For all the beauty marriage brings, it ushers in unique challenges. Learn how to deal better now.
Studies and research will tell you that couples most often fight about two topics in particular: Sex and money; different ideas of what’s too little, too much or how these issues affect the couple. While these are real struggles that jeopardize the health of a relationship, the gaps that lie between partner needs and how to bridge them still aren’t the real reason why marriage is so darn hard. The answer lies in the “shift.”
Most couples will tell you that when they got married nothing changed. And everything changed. All at once. Marriage isn’t magic. We mentally paint an idyllic picture of how the ceremony will wash away all of our troubles and that the bond of matrimony will bless our union with a lifetime of roses and rainbows. Sadly, it doesn’t. There is, of course, a renewed sense of joy, commitment and partnership; however, the problems you went in with are (most likely) the ones you’re coming out with. Same. Same. Nothing changed. So what does change? It all begins to unfold when you realize that once you said “I Do,” your relationship game just got “upped.”
When non-married couples disagree, society views it as reasonable, as they are just ‘learning’ each other. When non-married couples have separate hobbies, they are simply taking healthy alone time necessary to make their relationship work. When non-married couples spend time with their families without their significant other its okay, because their partner isn’t really ‘part of the family.’ How quickly these things change when we exchange vows. In an instant you’ve become “the couple that fights,” “the couple that has separate interests that might just lead to separate lives” and “the couple that has family issues.” For all of the many blessings that marriage brings, it necessitates the difficult choices every partner has to make in order to avoid becoming part of that clichéd statistic we’ve all heard. How do you defy the odds and not end up amongst the 50% who divorce?
Make the Mental Shift From ‘I to We’ - To keep your relationship strong, you as a couple have to view yourselves as the most important people in your world. It doesn’t mean that you are the only ones in existence, but it does mean that barring life hiccups, responsibilities and emergencies, you always have to think about what’s best for you two as a couple. This is no simple question, but it is the most important thing to ask when determining whether your marriage is going to sink or swim. It all sounds easy in theory, doesn’t it? Just “do what’s best” and you won’t be lead astray. It becomes more cloudy and complicated when it becomes apparent that in this “I to We” shift, a little part of each of you vanishes, for good.
The part of you that gets to do what you want, when you want, just for yourself, no matter what, becomes null and void. Every choice gets re-evaluated and re-processed through the filter of what’s ‘right’ for you BOTH. For instance, think about what you would decide to do in the following scenarios:
- You can’t afford to participate in your favorite hobby anymore because you have to save for a house.
- Your partner is close to their family and you hate their mother.
- He or she wants you to set boundaries at work that might get you fired from a job you love.
This is where the answers get tricky.
Smart couples make a choice to put their egos on the shelf and try to find an answer that works for both of them. Even savvier couples realize that it’s not about what they want individually, but instead, what’s best for them as a unit. They ask themselves what will better them, strengthen them and make them an unstoppable team. They let go of their desire to be “right” and choose to be “happy.” And it changes everything…for the better. Once you begin this process, the answers you come up with might surprise you. Perhaps you do need to keep up with your hobby because it’s your stress release. You two realize that it makes you a happier person, ultimately making you a better partner. Therefore, in the end, you as a couple decide to put the house buying plans on hold.
Take a moment to think about all of the couples you know that have divorced. Now think about whether or not they truly lived in the “We” or did they talk the talk but ultimately walk the “I” walk? Give yourself a little time to mourn the loss of your “I” and then get cracking on your “We.” Embracing and accepting this new paradigm will improve intimacy, communication and might just make marriage a little less darn hard!