A hand to help you up the mountain

Too many people think that the idea of marriage is to affirm that you have found a ‘soulmate,’ someone who ‘completes’ you. It’s unfortunate that this is the expectation that so many people have when entering marriage because it immediately sets the marriage up for failure. Inevitably, the person who is seeking completeness through their marriage will expect their partner to somehow empower them to do all the things they consider necessary to become a whole person and when that partner fails to live up to these impossible expectations the marriage will go bad. True self-awareness and a sense of wholeness can only come from within. Other people can help you in your search: teachers, spiritual leaders, your spouse, but only you have the ability to change who you are in order to make yourself whole. A marriage to someone you love can certainly help you achieve a greater level of wholeness but only because your love for your spouse drives you to better yourself, not because the other person brings your missing parts to the table. Anyone who believes that a marriage will compensate for shortcomings in their lives needs to reevaluate exactly what they feel their marriage is supposed to solve. Unfortunately, most people have a very difficult time achieving the level of introspection required to sift through the years of psychological garbage they have created to get to the real issues underlying their sense of incompleteness. It is this failing that accounts for the problems people have with their marriages and it’s a shame that people blame the idea of marriage, rather than themselves, for their lack of wholeness.

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Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Someone to keep you warm

There are some nights where no number of blankets can ward off the cold. There are some nights where no pajamas are heavy enough to temper the chill. There are some nights where only the warming presence of a loved one can possibly banish the darkness. Marriage was created for these nights.

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Because your life isn’t over

I think one of the reasons so many people fear marriage is because for them the term is synonymous with the idea that they are no longer able to live their lives.  It seems that many people consider marriage to be what you do after you’ve “sowed your wild oats.”  Terms such as “settle down” conjure to mind an image of a quiet life devoid of any excitement, the sort of life one would live after they’ve already accomplished all they wanted in the world.  Unfortunately, if this was the case no one would get married, for in truth no one ever accomplishes all they want.  There is always something left to be experienced.  The beauty of marriage is that you can share these experiences with someone who (in theory) shares your affinity for whatever it is you want to get out of life.  Marriage is not an end to your life (nor is it a beginning, as some would claim), it is merely a continuation of the life you have established for yourself to this point.  If you have decided that your life should be one of adventure and travel, your marriage can be an extension of that.  If you prefer a life spent reading and watching movies, your marriage can be an extension of that too.  Provided you pick the right person you will find that marriage enhances your life, rather than limits it.  Bachelorhood may provide you the freedom to do whatever you want, but marriage provides you a person with whom you can share that same freedom and together you can both experience all that you want out of life.

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 3:29 am  Comments (3)  
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Expect fairness

Marriage is about compromise. It’s about sharing. It’s about giving up what you want to please your spouse. Most importantly, it’s about fairness. Any relationship where one person routinely gives up everything for the other or expects the other to do all the work is doomed to fail. Only by balancing the load amongst both partners can a marriage last. This applies to every aspect of a marriage. Whether it’s household chores, managing money, picking what movie to go see, everything needs to be fair and balance out. I’m not saying you need to keep a tally and keep track of every time one person gets to do what they want at the expense of the other person, but the goal should be to achieve roughly equal equanimity in the relationship. Few things will sour a relationship more than saying, “Why should I do the dishes when I did them last night?” A good marriage is where one person goes out of their way to do more than is expected of them, not because they want to tip the scales in their favor but because they want to make life easier for the other person. A great marriage is where one person goes out of their way to do more than is expected of them and the other person responds in kind at a later date without any prompting! The trick to expecting fairness is, ironically enough, to not expect it. If your spouse thinks you are doing something because you are counting on the action being repaid, then they’ll lose any motivation to respond in kind. If your spouse thinks you are doing something simply out of the goodness of your heart and a desire to make their life easier, then they will want to respond with a similar gesture some point in the future. Marriage is about expecting fairness without demanding it. By doing good things simply for the sake of doing them you will find that fairness naturally flows forth.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Be proud of your marriage

I work with a lot of single guys and it never ceases to amaze me how often I have to listen to snide remarks about the ‘old ball and chain.’  Marriage can be a great thing.  I am a far better person married than I ever was single!  I enjoyed my single life, but the level of happiness I share with my spouse is far greater than anything I could ever have if I was single.  That’s why I always make it a point to refute ‘ball and chain’ comments by informing people that I enjoy being married and am a better person because my spouse is in my life.  Marriage too often gets a bad rap due to the imagined actions of a stereotypical ‘nagging wife’ and it’s important that you counter those accusations.  If you don’t, you may start believing what people are saying.  People are susceptible to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies, which in this case means someone tells you that marriage is a bad thing, which causes you to think about it, which causes you to pay undue attention to the bad things, which in turn makes your marriage bad.  Often when people say disparaging things about their marriage it’s because it’s what they believe is expected of them.  Don’t let yourself fall victim to this perceived expectation.  Be proud of your marriage and don’t be ashamed to stand up and say it!

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Find the Right Woman

This part may seem obvious, but it is the keystone that makes a marriage work and as such deserves to be addressed.  It’s been my experience that people often get married for the wrong reasons, or to be more charitable, they get married for reasons that seemed right at the time.  Before you seriously consider proposing to your girlfriend, ask yourself exactly why you are getting married.  Is it because your passion for her is so strong that you simply couldn’t live without her?  Is it because when you’re with her you are the happiest person in the world?  Is it because when you’re away from her you feel utterly alone?  If the answer to any of these questions was ‘yes,’ you’re not being honest with yourself.  Go back and ask yourself why you feel that way about her.  Being in love is a really terrible reason to get married for the simple reason that love by itself is an emotional state, one that like all emotional states will change over time.  No one is ever happy all the time just as they are never sad all the time.  I guarantee that whatever feelings of love you have towards your potential spouse will change over time.  The question is, ‘how will they change?’  Will you grow closer to your spouse as time goes on or will you grow further apart?  Only you can answer these questions, but here are some useful questions you can use in helping to determine whether or not your love will wax or wane:

–         Aside from your mutual physical attraction to each other, what else do you have in common and are these commonalities enough to keep you interested in her the rest of your life?

–         Can you live with her faults?  No matter what you may think, your potential future wife is not perfect, and any quirks you may have written off in the interest of sex will only become more apparent as time goes on.

–         Can you live without her?  If not, then you should not get married!  If the thought of living without her makes you utterly depressed then you are probably not in a mature enough state to get married.  There’s a difference between mature love and immature love.  Learn to recognize them both. 

–         Can you picture your life together after the wedding?  The most telling moment of my marriage, the one that truly told me I had made the right decision, was the morning after we got back from our honeymoon and we both went back to work.  Life does not stop because you got married and if you can’t see beyond the wedding then you run the risk of being disappointed once the reality of post-wedding life sets in.  It’s easy to be in love when everyone in the world is focused on you and your spouse, it’s much harder when no one cares.

 In the end there is no sure fire way to tell if you’ve picked the right girl.  Try and be as objective as you can in your assessment of your potential future together.  Doing so may save both you and your potential spouse a great deal of time, heartache and money.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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