As children, we all grow up watching our parents interact with each other. We see so many couples, such as uncles and aunts, grandparents, siblings and close friends, who got married upon finding the right life partner after much thought and prayer. From each of these relationships and experiences we draw a lot of positive and negative inferences. With or without our knowledge, these leave an imprint in our mind about the kind of life partner we would need for a happy married life – the perfect match to suit our characteristics, temperament, personality type, likes and dislikes! When we do find that perfect match, there is an excitement about starting this new journey together. That happy ending to all romantic movies – holding hands, walking off into the sunset; a marriage made in heaven!
Changing your spouse by changing yourself
Many couples go into marriage thinking, “Okay, so my life partner is not so perfect after all. But I can always be a positive influence on him/her.” Many of us have a positive influence on our friends and on our colleagues or subordinates. However many get frustrated that the change we want to see in our spouses does not happen our way. We have a point “A” to point “B” in mind where we would like to move our spouses to. However, our persistence and drive will push our spouses to a place where neither the husband nor the wife wants to be.You cannot force a change on your spouse. But we can change ourselves – with only a tenth of the energy. When we take feedback, show positive change and make sacrifices, our spouses may also show signs of change. Of course, this is not a guarantee. Don’t force yourself to tolerate them but learn to love and accept them as they are.
Attend to the wounds
One of the biggest mistakes couples make is thinking that one of the best ways to keep the marriage going, even though there are issues, is to avoid confrontation. “My spouse is not perfect and I am not able to bring about much change but confrontations lead to a lot of trouble. Giving my spouse space for a few days will help the wounds heal.”
Keeping issues and emotions bottled up is never the solution. Only wounds that are treated will heal. If you let the wound be, it will fester and rot. Many times we would rather evade a problem or situation than face the monsters in our relationship and battle them. “Battle them” means “talk them out”. Yelling at each other will yield no results. It will only turn into a screaming contest and a spectacle for the neighbours and your children.
First and foremost, we should do away with all falsehood and speak truthfully to one another – wth love. If you cannot share your emotions and issues with your own spouse, who would you share them with? If your spouse has hurt you, make it known to them how he/she has hurt you. Open up and be truthful. Speaking truthfully, reason with one another, for you are now one, united in marriage.
Forgive each other
There is a saying that you should not let the sun go down on your anger. However most of us think, “Okay, we have spoken about it. We have reasoned, and understood each other. Now we need time to get over it. It certainly takes time to forgive and forget.”
Many of us treat a problem or issue in marriage as a severe migraine. We think a good night’s sleep will help. Wake up in the morning and the slate is wiped clean for a whole new day; everything is bright and joyful. Well, as we all know, a few hours of anger turn into days of bitterness and maybe even weeks of utter frustration.
Every couple faces these situations to varying degrees. Every couple has to make diligent efforts to deal with them. Park your pride and be kind to one another, and love and forgive one another. Don’t wait for the other to ask for forgiveness. Forgive your spouse, just as you would forgive yourself for any mistake you would make.
So, this is what a list of the don’ts looks like: Don’t have unreasonable expectations. Don’t force a change on your spouse. Don’t avoid discussing the issues. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
We all have a large list of expectations, which are rarely or never fully met. One cannot hold on to a set agenda and ask our spouse to agree to each and every aspect of it. Each issue should have some common ground that needs to be arrived at.
Love cannot be forced – neither is it a one-way street. Are you guilty of harbouring unresolved issues? Speak to your spouse now. This is not where you need to forever hold your peace. If you do , we assure you that it will eventually destroy your peace.
That mystical perfect marriage is a myth. Not a single marriage is perfect, but you certainly can work towards it.
Published in the February 2015 issue of the Forward Press magazine
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