Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as you are both willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other. Unknown
Looking at books at Value Village on the weekend I saw a book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum. I didn’t buy it, but I’ve been thinking about what it says. My husband and I even had a conversation about it. We all know people who have left marriages we thought good enough to stay in and stayed in bad marriages we thought they should have left.
We need to do soul searching to know which kind of marriage we are in. The soul searching should have been done before the marriage, but often people do things trying to make a bad relationship better. They get married when they should break up, they have a child when they should break up, and they buy a house when they should break up. For whatever reason, they keep doing things to make it better, but if it was never good, it is not likely to ever get good.
This is a hard truth and we should look at hard truths during our lives. In Toastmaster’s we have something called “Moments of Truth.” In “Moments of Truth” we are to take a good look at our clubs and see what needs to be changed and improved. We need to do the same with our relationships.
In the book, the author talks about a man who is not happy, and when he sees his friend get a divorce he gets one too. He is still not happy; the girls he’d like to date aren’t interested in him. The visits with his kids he thought would be fun are boring, the kids miss their friends, their stuff, and constant fun isn’t as much fun as he thought and a lot more expensive. He realizes he made a big mistake, but it’s done.
A strong marriage requires two people who choose to love each other even on the days when they struggle to like each other. Unknown
Another woman was in a relationship where they were carefree and her partner starts a business and becomes a businesswoman with all that entails. The relationship isn’t good and hasn’t been good, but because the businesswoman makes a lot of money and the partner doesn’t, she stays. Until one day while helping a woman find a place to live she realizes she too could afford her own place with a little better job.
If we stay for the wrong reasons or leave for the wrong reasons we haven’t made things better. We need to be able to figure out when to hold on and when to fold. We need to do this in other areas of our life as well. Why are we so hesitant to take a good look at what we like about our lives, and what we don’t. As Dr. Phil says we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Even after taking a good hard look at our life we may not see how to change it. There are things we can do even if it is only an attitude adjustment.
I keep telling my friends that the men looking our way are in their seventies and eighties. A couple I know of just got divorced. She was fifty and he had to be at least seventy-five when they got married. I don’t know her; I liked him as a grandfatherly person in my kid’s lives. Husband material for a fifty-year-old, I don’t think so.
Ambivalence in life isn’t good. We can stay stuck forever if we aren’t courageous enough to make a decision. One of the questions the author asks is: In spite of your problems, do you and your partner have even one positively pleasurable activity or interest (besides children) that you currently share and look forward to sharing in the future, something you do together that you both like that gives both of you a feeling of closeness for awhile? Would you say that to you, your partner is basically nice, reasonably intelligent, not too neurotic, okay to look at, and most of the time smells alright?
In the book The New I Do Reshaping Marriage for Sceptics, Realists, and Rebels by Susan Pease Gadoua co-written with Vicki Larson the authors talk about other marriage models than the “Love” marriage. Starter marriage, companionship marriage, parenting marriage, living alone together, safety marriage, covenant marriage and open marriage. The author’s belief is that many people need to tailor their marriage to their own needs. If marriage is going to survive it needs to meet the two members’ needs, or at least most of those needs. What if one of the things we have to decide in our marriage is what our needs are? What if those needs change over time?
Marriage was at one time based on survival, procreation, property, and wealth. Now that we’ve made it all about “Love” we often find it can’t deliver as promised. Are we making the mistake of thinking marriage is only about love, and not realizing a good marriage is about so much more than just “Feeling in Love”. Dr. John Gottman talks about the Good Enough Marriage, this is what we should be after even though it wasn’t what most of us aspired to when we said: “I Do”. If after many, many years we have a “Good Enough” marriage we have achieved something worthwhile. A “Good Enough” marriage is not a bad marriage, if we have a “Good Enough” marriage, looking for a better partner is unlikely to get us what we might want a “Perfect Marriage” because they don’t exist.
Can we create a “Good Enough” marriage out of the one we have?
If you want to have a great marriage. You need to be humble enough to ask yourself, what changes do I need to make. Unknown
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