Marriage isn’t what you think it is. Although many counselors treat marriage as though it is an entity in its own right, it is actually a simple byproduct of the way you treat or mistreat one another. Therefore, you cannot work on it directly.
No one can. It just happens. Not magically, of course. You and your mate automatically co-create your marriage by your everyday thoughts and actions toward one another. A cumulative process has brought you to where you are to date. You are both responsible for what you have co-created, whether good or bad.
So what’s wrong with working on your marriage?
Making your marriage your top priority, especially when it’s broken, leaves your mate feeling unloved and used. Some people just want to be married. Or at least not divorced. They are afraid of being alone. So they focus on what’s wrong – with the other person, of course.
If you are intent on repairing your mate’s broken parts, you are sending the wrong message … and making a bigger mess. The message you are sending is:
“There is something fundamentally wrong with you, and I cannot love you until you change to fit my idea of who you should be.”
Trying to fix, manage, and/or control your mate never works. Not ever. Never.
Here are a few more messages you send when you make marriage – not your mate – your top priority:
- Love is work. I don’t want to think my mate has to “work” at loving me. Am I really that unlovable?
- Fight for your marriage! Often feels like you’re fighting one another, which you are. Attack, blame, criticism, and destruction.
- I need you. Because you are my spouse, you exist to meet my needs. I’m not okay until you make me okay. Nothing else matters. And if you are having your own struggles, fix them now. For me, not because I care about you.
Getting your priorities straight
Here’s the short list, in priority order …
- Knowing your personal value. Accepting your own vulnerabilities. Growing up. Growing more confident and strong.
- Listening to learn. Learning to love. Being available and responsive to one another’s needs. Allowing your mate to be in his process, too.
- Creating an atmosphere filled with honesty and affirmation. Believing in one another’s ability to take care of personal business.
- Setting appropriate limits when destructive behaviors are part of everyday life.
- Love, respect, understanding, grace. Because we’re all broken and in need of healing.
Why make (a) your own growth and (b) loving your mate your top priorities?
Because it’s the only approach that will empower you both to co-create your own beautiful byproduct of marriage.
If you could use some extra help, let me know. That’s why I’m still here.