We have often heard the question asked, “so what is being married like?” or “how is marriage treating you?”. Depending on who you speak with, you hear varied replies in varied tones.
Marriage, like love, a curious “thingy”, or rather, curious ties/relationship.
There is one reply that catches my attention, “better together”.
Marriage is sometimes perceived as a destination. However, it is more like the start of a different part of a journey with the other person. It is both a statement of “we have decided and arrived at this next part of our journey together” and a statement that “we are doing this next part together”. Some couples stop working together on their relationship after marriage.
Marriage as “better together” does not just happen. I know this seems evident. However, if we were to take a closer look at how we are approaching our marriages at times, some of us do hold the expectation that we will experience “better together” simply because “we are married” and not realise that this “better together” reality requires the efforts of both parties towards the marital relationship to make it come true. And yes, working at the marriage consistently and as best as we can.
There are 3 basic principles that I find helpful and practical towards cherishing and growing the marital relationship (marriage):
- Seek to listen to know and understand the situation and your spouse first
Some of us can perhaps attest to experiences like this experience of, “wow, I didn’t know this about you!” and learn new things about ourselves and our spouses, even after years of marriage. I think that is also what makes marriage an ongoing adventure and a journey for two. It is easy to think we already know or jump to conclusions about the situation or our spouse, especially if we have already spent years together. Hold our horses.
Listen to know and understand first, not about getting our points across or to get ourselves ready for our turn and rebuttals. Because we are not really listening when we are busy preparing for our turn.
This helps to save many misunderstandings and correct misconceptions.
2. Adopt the “we-us” position and mindset and speak the language
To experience the reality of “better together”, first practice the reality of “together”. That we and our spouse are a team, one. So when we think, discuss, evaluate and make decisions, we are considering “us”. It is not “I” versus “You”, or vying to see who wins ultimately. Because in a marriage, when one loses, the other loses too. It is always joint. You are in this together. So, consider “We”.
3. Choose love as often as you can
We always get to choose our responses and attitude though we do not have ultimate or final control over situations and people. Choose the loving way to respond as often as you can towards your spouse. Yes, even when he or she is at fault. Choosing the loving way does not mean we are condoning the wrongs. It simply means we are choosing to respond in a loving way. To build us and the marriage up.
Guess when do we need love the most? It is often when we are at the lowest, darkest, ugliest or loneliest.
And, you know what, love always wins. At least at the end of the day, we can be glad that we have chosen the way of love, though it is not necessarily easier nor “fair”.
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Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.