3 Mistakes in Marriages
Happy marriages are hard-work-in-progress relationships, but too often people see the lack of conflict, or the lack of friction, as a sign of happy marriages. Nothing could be further than the truth.
Perhaps some marriages are genuinely unworkable, but often there are mistakes that we make which can cause our marriage to seem unbearable and falsely compel us to choose breaking up.
Even if we do not take that drastic step, we end up remaining married but not having the marriage work for us.
Finding fault is very different from fault-finding, and successful couples need to master this difference.
Fault-finding is the insecure response of an egotistical person who wants to establish who is superior. It produces unhealthy friction where the accused struggles to retain their identity and image. Fault-finding focuses on an individual’s shortcomings in a manner that generally benefits only the accuser and does little for the accused.
Fault-finding is natural to us. It is therefore the characteristic of an under-developed person. As we grow however, the lack of positive results, and the unhealthy friction fault-finding produces causes most people to prefer the no friction route. They simply start swallowing, ignoring, or pretending.
They stop fault-finding, which is good, but rarely start identifying fault and learning to provide healthy feedback, the lack of which can paralyse and sometimes even end marriages.
Healthy feedback, through identifying faults is necessary for growth and development of both the individual and the relationship. Such identification of faults focuses on an individual’s strengths, and challenges ideas meaningfully to produce focus, greater strength and direction towards a purpose that benefits the individual and the marriage.
It is incorrect to try and be sweet and nice at the cost of being true to oneself, and genuine to the other.
Deferring, or swallowing stuff hoping that the problem will go away is pretending to be sweet and nice in a manner that is not sustainable. This causes us to adjust, compromise and lower our expectations. We actually begin to expect less from (a) ourselves (b) our spouse and (c) our marriage.
Trying to be sweet and nice, the three mistakes we make in marriages are:
1. Unarticulated expectations
Not openly and clearly stating their expectations. Both assume stuff about the other in a manner which consistently disappoints them. They assume a lifestyle, a growth plan, a common purpose and goal when all the while they were at cross purposes.
2. Reducing the size of problem
The second mistake is to reduce the size of the problem in our minds. While trying to be ‘nice’ you don’t make a big noise about anything. You reduce the importance of a problem and make it lesser than it is. You rationalize a problem and swallow disappointments to make it manageable. The problem however only increases in size and its weight begins to cause unbearable stress on individuals.
3. Carrying the burden
The third mistake is in trying to carry the minimised “small” problems rather than deal with them effectively. Unarticulated, unresolved problems start off small but become a big, heavy burden in us over time.
Then, everything suddenly explodes and destroys the marriage with accusations being hurled retrospectively. That sweet, nice person suddenly becomes a selfish, unreasonable person
Think of it: love makes you stronger, not weaker. If you have tired and weakened over the years, it must only mean that you never learned to love in the first place. It’s as idiotic as working out in a gym and discovering you have lesser strength than when you began!
The reality is that if you want to make something of your own life you can. You need to trust in no one else but yourself. Each of us has all the capabilities and resources for doing as we want. The easiest thing to believe is that your spouse is interfering with your potential to be and do. The toughest thing to believe is that you have the love and power to be impactful meaningfully in your spouse's life.
The sad truth is that we can get what we want, without ever becoming who we needed to be. The sadder truth is that we are not giving up on someone else as much as we are giving up on ourselves.
Marriage forms us like no other relationship because it enables two people to let go of their previous selves, and together become a third new self.
Love yourself enough to let go, grow, and evolve. It is never too late to start.
Love your marriage. Stop fault-finding no doubt, but start identifying fault. It is perhaps the most loving thing we can do.
Love is willing the good of another and none of us can be our best without healthy edits, critical feedback, and resetting of direction and purpose.
(1) Don’t accuse
(2) Be clear on what becomes better and why (not who is proved superior)
(3) Be sure about how this feedback makes your spouse a better person.
(4) Be clear on what will fail for your spouse, if they don’t change (not what will fail for you)
(5) Be transparent about what you are depending upon from your spouse.
Divorce, breaking up, or distancing ourselves is never about the truth of the other person; it is never about their failings, faults and weaknesses. It is always the truth of the strength of love we ourselves have, and our confidence in the impactfulness of this love on another.
Don’t give up. Find help and gain strength but don’t give up. No individual is ever a lost cause. We lose our willingness to love and work. We falsely imagine that love emanates from us. We falsely believe that love has limits.
Enable love to form you. Be your genuine self today.
Speak your mind. Articulate and clarify your expectations. Come to agreements. Be willing to carry the weight of your spouse’s failure to uphold these agreements. Be the rock that he or she can stand on.
The work of marriage is to make us as loving as love itself is. Love has no limits. Love depends entirely on what you choose.
Love your spouse, but love your marriage more.