- Posted December 13, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Confessions from imperfect parents
The perfect marriage conspiracy
It's not a bad thing to have these people in our lives. In the midst of having so many friends who's marriages fail - even after decades of being together, it can seem like marriage itself is on the brink of extinction and couples like my grandparents give hope to a weary world.
The problem happens when we allow ourselves to have a false impression of marriage. We all know the couple that looks happy - dare I say perfect - and then a couple years down the line, you get the news of their divorce. What happened? The short answer: lots and lots of stuff in the middle of beginning to ending.
Marriage is challenging. Marriage relies on commitment to get through hard times when everyone else says to just go get something new and fresh, to start over. Some marriages have more serious issues than others, and this is not in any way to discredit the severity of those issues, but usually, the solution is always the same.
If you believe you can't change, you won't change. If you believe your partner can't, and you tell them repeatedly you have no hope in them, they won't try. Even the most severe issues, usually have warning flags that happen before big events happen. What was done about the warning flags? If you ignore them, you are teaching your kids to do the same in their marriages and they will never learn to be successful either. The same is true on how to fight or resolve conflicts fare and respectfully.
We can't enter into the lifetime commitment of marriage with a "I'll try it out" mentality. We can't enter into it thinking how this person will make us complete. Before we ever walk down any isles, we need to be complete within ourselves. That other person will get distracted, hurt your feelings, let you down, and you need to know that. Surprise! They are human. So are we. We hope they will have understanding and communication with us before we go and start to consider our "other options", and we should respect them enough to do the same. If we are all focused on how that person is going to make us happy, then when they may stop for a period of time, we start looking elsewhere. This is the normal expectation of society. It's excusable to us now. It's the root of the problem.
How many times do you hear the wife say that she is fed up with her man because he never does x, y, z for her. She says she refuses to make him happy because he's not putting any effort into trying to make her happy. Then what do you hear when you talk with her man? The same thing. Imagine: If both people are focused on the other one's happiness ahead of their own, it will work itself out.
The first step is to admit marriage itself isn't easy and know that none are perfect. Those who have a stronger marriage than you have only learned to prioritize communication and determination and compromise. A selfish person can learn to give, a person who has trust issues can learn to trust, a couple with different life interests can be fascinated with each other instead of uninterested, but nothing happens when you lose faith. When you do that, you aren't just losing faith in your spouse, you are loosing faith in yourself.
Change can only happen if the marriage is a priority. Any influences that threaten it - divorced friends wanting you to join the single life with them, old flames you held on to as a back up, life commitments that take up all your time and attention - should be put out to the curb. If you don't do this, you can't say you truly tried to fight for your marriage. And likewise, you deserve for your spouse to be willing to do the same for you.
We can't so quickly run to the false thinking that if we encounter issues in our marriages, it's because we have a "bad marriage" or it was a "bad match." We say that perfect couple we know has found a good one cause we don't see their issues that go on behind closed doors. Maybe they have more self control then you to not let it out in public, but maybe they are just too embarrassed to be honest.
Self value and self respect are important. Respect for others is also important. How you view yourself will impact how you view others. Both parties in a marriage deserve respect, forgiveness and a whole person giving of themselves to the other. Otherwise, what you are giving out won't be complete and the relationship will lack and encounter problems as a result. Our partner can't be our savior and we can't be theirs.
In the context of self respect, always be safe. Always know your worth and fight for it. If you have truly fought for your marriage and your spouse refuses to do the same for you, this won't work. If your safety becomes a concern, that should always come first and never be compromised. This is especially true if you have children in the home that rely on you to keep them safe. But if your issues are of the general nature, they are of the fixable nature. Don't allow anything you see around you to tell you that your marriage can't be better just because you see so many failed ones or you see one you're convinced you can't live up to. It's a journey - and one you started down an isle that at one time you had faith in and I believe you can find that faith again.
"Refuse to change yourself, and you will never change the world" . "Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them." - Nelson Mandela