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    Posted February 5, 2014 by
    New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Confessions from imperfect parents

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    Marriage is a Battlefield


    How many happy marriages do you know? Do you even know any at all? If you talk with any of these couples in length, you'll be stunned to find many similarities - both the good and the bad.  Their reason for success and failure are usually the same.


    Let's talk about the bad.


    Most marriages today have 2 working partners. Most are waiting for marriage until their 30's and waiting to have kids until their late 30's-early 40's. There's nothing wrong with being ambitious or financially responsible. But how much does putting your career FIRST impact your family? A lot. Sometimes, the simple truth is that we want to live beyond our means and that requires more hours in the office and more hours away from home.   Family needs to be a priority always.


    We all have expectations in marriage. The man usually wants a woman who is going to cook him meals like mom made. She's going to take care of him and fluff his pillows when he's got a cold like mom did. He's gonna want fun in the bedroom at his disposal. He always wants a cheerleader, an encourager, someone who will back him up no matter what decisions he makes, even when he fails. He wants to feel empowered, successful in taking care of his family, and free to make decisions himself without feeling "controlled" by his counterpart. He's ok with having a partner, he's never ok with a nagging boss. The woman wants a comforter, a listener. She wants him to remember important romantic dates that they share together, and his time. She doesn't want him out every night with the boys or every night at the computer desk playing video games. These actions tell her that those people and those games are more important than her.  After all, she didn't get married to be alone all the time and talk to the walls at night. She wants him to understand a set of house responsibilities that are shared - if both work days jobs - and she doesn't want to have to remind him to do it. She never wants to mow the lawn or shovel the snow. Ever. She never wants to have to stand up for herself alone against someone hurting her if he is there to be her defence. Both spouses want full trust and respect. At all times.


    Defense vs. offense


    When we say our vows we can have these unrealistic expectations that the person we love will never offend us. They will never be inconsiderate, forgetful, and you will  never become unconnected. You are determined to have a happy and successful marriage, you will not fail. Yet, somewhere along the line, the disconnect happens. It happens from offense. Here's the math equation: Spouse (who is supposed to love me) did: X which = it must mean: Y. Sometimes, a selfish lover or a depressed lover is nothing more than just that. Depression doesn't excuse their behaviors.   Hwoever, when we start to take offense by the behavior and take it only personally, instead of helping them like we vowed to do as their defense, and instead we nag them and we judge them  - eventually we disconnect. It's a devil of a strategy against the very health and future of marriage. It destroys marriages every day.


    A person can and cannot help themselves

    If the person they married to be their biggest life support isn't supporting them, temptation is sure to follow.  We decide what to do with that.  That temptation says "find someone who cares about you and treats you the way you deserve." The problem is that at one time, you believed your spouse was that person. If they possessed the power to convince you the first time, they possess the ability to find a way to do it again. Its true - you shouldn't be ignored and you do deserve better, but the trick is to find out how to get THIS person you are married to to be that for you. Sometimes, society tells us to give up too easily. Nonetheless, that spouse has to be willing to help themselves too. You cannot carry them.  There is a difference between supporting a spouse through hard times and unreasonable expectations. If they have an expectation that you do carry them, professional counseling is a must. Stop trying to fix it yourself and get help. After that, if the neglecting spouse understands they will lose you and they are intentionally communicating that they don't love you by their actions, go from there. But please just don't run so quickly. Offense will tell you to run, offense will tell you things that sometimes aren't even true. Sometimes, the neglecting spouse is dealing with depression, such as a man who's lost his job and feels out of place at home, and they need to see you aren't giving up on him when he is so close to giving up on himself.


    A mentally healthy person leads healthy relationships


    These people set up a standard in every relationship to show respect to others and demand it in return from everyone. They aren't looking for someone else to make them happy, they are already a complete person and unwilling to allow a negative person to control how they will positively see the world. This, at the starting point, helps avoid future disastrous relationships. If you are in a disastrous relationship, take notice and work on you. Don't work on them. Support them, have regular, open communication full of compromise that requires both of you (not just a list of what you want them to do), and use verbiage to show your desire to strengthen the marriage together as a whole, not just tare down the other person's faults. No one in a struggling marriage will feel empowered to change that way, especially not for you. The key is to get them to see that "how they do things = how they communicate their love for you. When you do this, it tells me you think this way about me"...And most of the time, that spouse has NO idea they are doing that to you. They were just too busy thinking of themselves. They may think they are showing you love adequate love by only paying the bills. They don't realize that you have a different "love language."


    Cross roads


    Decisions eventually must be made, that is true. Each person in the partnership of marriage must decide to work together and communicate together for the marriage to last. It takes both people supporting each other to work. Shutting the other person out to "show them a lesson" doesn't work. Ever. It speaks rejection to the other person and that only equals rejection in return. The only reason why people do that is to see if their spouse will even notice that they are avoiding them, to measure how much they care. This is the power of rejection again dictating irrational tactics to try and solve the problem. When it doesn't work out in your favor, the root of that rejection only grows deeper. Do you see how that works? This really is a battlefield. You need to take another look at what you are using to try and win this battle, it just might be hurting you.


    Eventually, if you give of yourself with the determination that you had at the starting line of your marriage, you'll find most of these issues can be resolved. The trick is to having realistic expectations and showing your spouse how committed you are to work through the challenges. If you give up on them, they see nothing of any value to fix themselves. Showing them love instead of judgement might just bring back the person you married. Not always, but often. Spend time on dates - weekly. Even if you are stuck at home with a movie and popcorn. Don't talk about the kids when you do spend that time together. You aren't just business partners in a household, you are best friends and need time to be just that. More often than not, couples forget how to be that. Whenever a spouse is retreating to the tv too often, etc, it's usually because they've forgotten how to go to you for that escape instead or are expecting a negative experience or a lecture if they do. They aren't running from you, their best friend and lover, they are avoiding the expectation of judgement and a lack of support. If a counselor asked of them, "how would you like to spend your free time/unwinding time with someone you find extremely attractive, funny, encouraging, romantic and a lot of fun to be with in any setting, even if you've just had a bad day at work?" They would say, "Sign me up!" That person can be you. Your spouse wants you to be that too. We both expect our spouse to be that person. When we fall short of being that person, we soon fall into a divide.




    These problems are typical. You are by far not alone. Your marriage can be fixed because these are fixable issues. The only requirement is: you both have to care enough to put the time in to fixing it. Commit to pray together, to date each other, to share positive time together. The challenge you are working through right now isn't just for the success of your marriage, but what you teach your children for when they get married one day. We need to teach them perseverance and that above anything you face together (and you will!), love conquers all.

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