– When we first got married I believed that the guy I was marrying was so amazing, that he could do no wrong. Then as time went on I found that he is just impossible at times. How could I have been so blind? Sometimes I feel he even purposefully tries to annoy me. Is this really marriage?
Let go of what you think your marriage should be and embrace what it is. As long as you have married an imperfect human then that is marriage- imperfect. Yet there are some important keys that can change that “should have been marriage “ to a marriage of love and devotion.
I had a client who came to me with the following scenario. They wanted that perfect marriage. So they decided to try and find the problems. On a separate piece of paper for 3 days, they would write down all of their concerns or what they felt their partner needed to change to make their marriage better. After three days they shared their findings. The wife started with her very long list of things she felt he needed to change. She started I really don’t like it when you do this, or this, or this. She went on for all 6 pages. The husband became despondent and felt really hurt as she kept going on down her list. After she had finished she was feeling that maybe, finally, she was going to find some relief. She then turned to her husband and said ok now it’s your turn. He very calmly stated that he had tried and tried to find something about her that he want to change and he could not find a single thing. He then handed her the blank piece of paper. He again said that he loved everything about her. He even loved the frustrating times they had. At that moment she broke down in tears and gave him a hug. That was a life changing experience for them both.
That is the key to making your marriage perfect: A perfect place to learn, a perfect place to live and grow, and a perfect place to find that together you are good enough. The following are the gifts that you get from you imperfect marriage:
Many of us mistake love to be only a feeling, maybe even an overpowering feeling. Yet depending on our mood these feelings can go up and down. Feelings are transient so love needs to be more than just a feeling. According to social psychology, love is emotions, behaviors and cognitions all working together. This is where we need to understand that love really is a verb or that we need to do more than just feel. We need to work at it. Questions to ask your self:
What is it that makes my spouse feel loved?
Can I, and am I, willing to do that for him or her?
What can I do to bring more to the relationship?
- Empathy -It is easy to fall into a rut or trap and take each other for granted. Then because of human nature, we start to notice each other’s failings. The first step to increasing empathy is to focus on his or her strengths. Turn your focus from being turned into yourself and your needs to being more turned to him and his strengths and all the good he does. Notice what he is feeling. What is in his heart? That is not easily done especially if we are hurting ourselves. Yet that is a way to change your relationship for the better. When you notice what he or she is feeling, then that is a good time to tell him what you see. When you validate his feelings that makes him feel that he really is good enough and he is important enough to you that you are noticing.
- Connection –Recognize that even in the middle of a conflict both you and your spouse long to be seen, understood and of worth. Some key points to remember:
Respond sensitively to each other with no loud voices or blaming.
Be emotionally available. Do not let yourself get distracted when you need to be present with your partner. Make the relationship the most important. What is good for the relationship?
- Build trust.Start with doing what you’re promised to do or if that is not possible then talk it over. Remember neither of you can read minds. Speak your mind in a kind way.
- Find ways to renew the spark. Try something different together or go back to when you first meet and do what you did at the time you were totally in love.
Living with another human being is bound to bring some conflict. And the quickest way to feel stuck and not gaining peace is to avoid conflict. Yet the conflict needs to be handled in a peaceful manner.
An imperfect marriage can bring those amazing gifts of love, empathy, connection and peace. Remember we are imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, yet that doesn’t change the truth that we can have a great marriage.