I read an interesting article a few weeks ago titled “Why Marriage is So D*** Hard.”
And although a lot of the information in the article was true… the foundational concepts there weren’t exactly correct.
Knowing what I now know about marriage, it just didn’t sit well with me.
The article was based entirely on the idea that we should choose to stay married… every. single. day.
But… that’s not really how this thing marriage works at all and this is why:
You made that choice to stay on the day you said, “I do.”
Remember “till death do us part?” Yeah, there’s a reason that’s in there.
You are VOWING (which I think we can all agree is stronger than “promising”) to stick it out, to figure out, and to make it work beautiful.
If you were to make a legally binding agreement to do some (purchasing your forever home, for example) you wouldn’t need to keep making a choice to do that each day.
Getting out of the agreement wouldn’t really be a option for you (unless there was something really major than happened of course.. and if then you’d probably try to salvage it.)
No, you would try to get out. In fact, you would likely take it upon yourself to improve on that investment.
You would decorate, do yard work, keep it clean, maintain it and fix all of the little things about it that you don’t like.
Without question (and barring extenuating circumstances), you would continue to make payments and nurture your investment, your forever home.
So why then, when it comes to marriage, do we tell ourselves that our only options are to stay or to leave? Why is leaving our go-to solution. In fact, why is leaving even an option?
I would suggest (once again, barring extenuating circumstances) that marriage is actually a bit more binding than that.
SO SHOULD YOU STAY IN AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE?
Should you stay in your marriage?
I believe the answer is yes, unless of course there is some sort of unhealthy abuse going on there, in which case those vows are already broken (not by you) and you should get out as fast as you can.
Should you stay in an unhappy marriage?
I believe the answer to that question is no.
Just like a home, we need to nurture this thing if we want to continue to love it for years to come. If we want it to truly be “forever.”
We need to spend time on it. We need to maintain it. We need to enjoy the life we are living with it.
Are there parts of it that make you turn up your nose a bit? Sure… but that’s all fixable (or forgettable, at a minimum).
Research tells us that marriage goes through stages, and although most psychologists can’t agree on exactly how many stages there are, they all agree on one thing.
Every marriage follows a pattern that leads through a state of misery before finally leading to the “happy ending” that we’ve all dreamt of.
The working theory is that “misery” is the stage in which we learn to grow as individuals and love each other unconditionally.
Does that mean you have to let go of things that annoy you and accept that it’s never going to change? Maybe. Perhaps that’s not as awful as you believe.
But more than letting go of the annoying things, pushing through the misery stage means learning to go back to the basics and just enjoy your spouse again.
KEEPING A MARRIAGE HAPPY IS AS SIMPLE AS 1,2,3.
When our marriages start going south, we tend to lean towards marriage counseling as our first plan of attack.
But the truth is that marriage counseling isn’t actually necessary for most couples.
Reviving a stale marriage is quite a bit simpler than that.
Research tells us that marriages that thrive usually boil down to three basic elements ( Which can usually be achieved with nothing more than a little bit of intentional effort.)
In fact, all three of these elements are things we learn to do as children, but sometimes forget about as adults.
Could having a good marriage really be as simple as learning to be child-like again?
Well, check out the three things that all successful couples know and decide for yourself.
#1 Successful couples all know how to enjoy time together
Enjoying time together means trying to remember how to have fun again.
Whether you’re running errands, washing dishes, or getting busy in the bedroom, remember to flirt, smile, laugh, and play together every single day.
This doesn’t have to be hard. I can be as simple as having a pillow fight before bed or smacking your hubby’s behind when he walks by.
But if you’re looking for something more elaborate, you can also make weekly date nights a priority in your routine.
I would venture to say that this is the most important element of a successful marriage and it’s also the one that’s most often ignored.
With each passing year, we’ve become more and more focused on this concept of “having it all together,” and “adulting.”
We put such a premium on these concepts that we’ve forgotten how important fun can be.
People who “have it all together” are rarely happy. They just know how to make other people think that they are.
Being happy and enjoying life might mean letting the dishes go tonight so that you can play a video game with your spouse. (And guess what? That’s not only okay… you could argue that it’s actually good. )
#2 Successful couples all know how to be kind to each other
Offering basic human kindness mean remembering to be nice, forgive freely, and ask for forgiveness when necessary.
If this sounds pretty similar to something your learned in kindergarten… that’s because it is.
Somehow, we grew up and forgot how to use our manners.
Pleases, Thank-yous, I’m-sorry’s, and I-forgive-you’s can go a long way in making your marriage better.
Ask yourself this question:
What if you just let go….let go of all those annoying little things that get on your nerves, let go of the things you wish your spouse would do that they don’t.
What if you didn’t make them see your side of the story?
What if you didn’t remind them constantly of all the ways they are failing you?
What if you just moved on, let it go, and accepted that your spouse is flawed just like you?
Would things in your marriage get better or worse?
#3 Successful couples all know how to communicate.
We all know this one right? “Communication is key.” And although this statement is true, sometimes we (especially women) have a tendency to OVER communicate.
We communicate our marriages to death. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an important skill to have, it just means that we should understand it’s only one important skill out of 3.
So what does good communication really look like then? Again, it’s pretty simple.
A good communicator knows how to ask for what they need. Sometimes in a relationship like marriage, we can lose ourselves in the other person. But it’s important to remember that we all have needs.
Being able to recognize when something is a need instead of a want and communicating it to your spouse will ultimately lead to a better relationship.
A good communicator also knows that listening doesn’t always mean agreeing and that sometimes our spouse just needs a friend to vent to.
So next time your spouse if frustrated and saying something that hurts your feelings ask yourself if he/she really means what they are saying? If you feel pretty certain that they are just frustrated, then try to let it go.
Later, if it’s really bothering you, you can ask them if that’s really what they think of you (but wait until the rage has passed, no one’s at their best when they are angry.
If all else fails, you may need to seek counseling for help on this one. Because communication can be tricky and really requires both parties to work together.
Marriage isn’t complex at all.
It’s so simple a child could do it.
Just take things a little less seriously, let go of things that don’t matter, love without condition, and be your spouse’s best friend.
Everything else will take care of itself.