Marriage: It Boils Down to Two Choices
I have had three separate women in my life tell me over the past six months that their relationships with their husbands weren’t going well. This is not a shocking or surprising statement as the journey of marriage is a rocky ride filled with good and not so good patches.
What shocked me is that all of them used the exact phrase, “lot in life”.
None of these women know each other, yet they all used the exact same phrase. They explained that this was their “lot in life” and seemed resigned to living out their days with a spouse who was deeply flawed and making them anxious and miserable.
I feel very fortunate that I have both female and male friends who like to engage in very meaningful and intimate conversations about love and life. I listen especially closely to my male friends because they offer insights that help me navigate my own relationship with my husband.
But, this admission from my three friends frankly shocked me.
The way I see it, everything boils down to this:
1. You make your choices and live with them
2. You change your mind and make new choices
The choice to stay in a marriage or the choice to leave the relationship can be equally difficult. But the choice lies with you. As do the consequences of the choices you make. You have one life. Your choice.
Here is another fact: We Change
When people enter into a marriage or a long-term partnership, the vast majority do so because they genuinely love their partners and want to build a life with them and grow old alongside each other.
However, as we get older, we are hit with a barrage of things that change us: Children, the inability to have children, career growth, financial loss, business failure, redundancy, bereavement, ill health, wealth, even celebrity.
And any one of these experiences places an incredible strain on a relationship.
As couples navigate the oft-perilous journey of life together there will be events that bring them closer and events that push them apart.
But as a couple, you need to have open and honest communication with each other. If you bury your concerns and your desires, how on earth can your partner know what you are feeling, or how dissatisfied you are? You are not even giving him/her an opportunity to turn things around or give you what you need to be emotionally supported and happy. And by burying how you feel, the anxiety festers and grows. The stress wears you down and eventually you explode into irrationality.
Your life is there to be lived with purpose. You should feel happy and confident and motivated every day. Even on days when you feel like shit, or things don’t go your way, you know tomorrow is another day. Unless of course, you accept your lot in life. Then it is highly likely tomorrow will be much like today.
From what I can see from folks who have been married for 30,40, 50 years is that they have been able to carve out marriages where they have strong shared values, several shared interests, devotion for the family unit they have created (however that looks). They also have their own lives, their own friends and their own unique interests where they can express their identities and creativity. They enjoy being together and also thrive independently. And without doubt after that many decades together they have had many things good and terrible thrown at them. But they have made the choice to weather it together.
Jenna McCarthy’s very entertaining TED talk on marriage is a humorous slant on the many scientific studies into marriage. It’s good!
Never, never accept your lot in life, if that means it is filling you with anxiety and dread, limiting your potential or damaging your self-esteem.
A relationship is only good if you thrive together. If one or both of you feel you are stagnant, resentful and miserable, then you urgently need to talk about it or agree to seek a third party to help you work through the issues.
If you fear “rocking the boat” then your yacht will never sail into the sunset with the love of your life.
It all boils down to choices. Which ones will you make?
If you have relationship matters that you would like advice on, we have an in-house relationship counselor, Aunty Ask Me who will answer your anonymous questions each month. Send your question below. Put “Anonymous” is the name and email section.