“Now the wedding is over the marriage begins”. A priest at a wedding I attended once.
Such a powerful statement that struck a chord, so much attention gets poured into the coming together of two people (I refer to marriage here but I also include close, conscious committed relationships of all forms) that it’s understandable and common for many couples to fall foul of misconceptions and misunderstandings leading to heartache and loss down the line. To avoid this I wanted to bring to attention some of these issues I find myself working on in Couple Therapy:
- The wedding was fabulous so the marriage will be too
Nope. Weddings are invested in, full of celebration and all about new beginnings and family. Marriage is much more than that, intimacy, vulnerability, commitment, patience, trust and love. The sooner you can learn to accept inevitable difficulties and have fun together dealing with them, the longer lasting the marriage has potential to be.
2. Marriage isn’t work
Ideally, your work should be enjoyable enough to not feel like work either, but it probably does quite often. Hard work is gratifying and pays off. I always tell my clients, this is not a 50/50 game, it’s a 100/100 game. It won’t always feel equal or fair but if you both bring 100% the chances of success are high.
3. Marriage will bring us closer
Been together for ages? Maybe marriage will inject some oomph. No. Being able to be intimate, vulnerable and committed is what will make it work. Decide you are in and stay in.
4. Now you are married you are a “team”.
This rings the alarm bell of co-dependency. A slow (you don’t notice it happening) slide down into something that consumes you as an individual. Marriage doesn’t mean you lose your individuality, it means you learn interdependence.
5. Trust & security issues will vanish
Nothing will fix those, if you don’t have trust or don’t feel secure, don’t get married. If you do, you need to face the work needed to repair and establish trust and security, respectively.
6. You can change them
How they dress, how they spend their time, what they like…. big red flags, if you want them to change then why marry them as they are? The only change you can ever have control over, is yourself. The good news is, if you change yourself, you might end up getting what you want.
7. Your other half is responsible for how you feel
Sad, anxious, depressed? Share with your partner, take support but don’t see it as their role to mend you. Don’t get cross if they can’t read your mind and know exactly what you need. Only you know that and if you tell them, they will probably want to be there for you.
8. Kids will make your relationship better
Ho ho ho. Seriously, kids are wonderful but it’s not a walk in the park (even though you will do a lot of walking in parks). Kids will test your marriage to the limit, financially, emotionally, practically. You become parents to the kids, not to each other. Remembering the importance of taking care of your relationship and your intimacy/sex life is key.
9. You can carry on with your social life
It will change, it doesn’t have to disappear but it will change. Particularly after kids. Avoid resentment by talking about what you need and want, hearing what your partner needs and wants. Everyone should feel heard.
10. If it’s not going well it’s doomed to fail
If “not going well” is something you fear facing, it could lead to failure. If you can, accept times will be challenging periodically and be prepared to work on it. See what you have, not what you haven’t. Be prepared to stick it out (within in safe reasons) as the depth of marriage possible will take time.
Posted with love.
credit John Harrison MA,LLC