A Happy Marriage
Is Within Your Reach In These Three Steps
Authored by William G. DeFoore, Ph.D.
The important thing here is that you believe that you can have a happy marriage. You will find the tools and guidelines here to help you do just that.
Everybody who gets married wants a happy marriage. Otherwise, why get married? Nobody gets married with a plan to fight, feel rejected and get divorced.
Most marriages start out happy, then things start to change...this is pretty much inevitable. You had certain expectations when you got married, and sooner or later, your spouse most likely fell short of how you wanted them to be.
And, of course, it might be you that's falling short of expectations. Either way, there is an inevitable change process in every marriage, and how you handle that change can make all the difference.
So in every marriage, at some point, you start trying to fix things...
This probably looks familiar to you. Here's another way to look at how all this happens:
- When you get married and open your heart to someone, you're making yourself very vulnerable, so naturally you will want to protect yourself.
- One way to protect yourself is by hoping your spouse turns out to be the wonderful partner you were looking for.
- Because of this, you will subconsciously watch for ways they don't measure up to your image of the ideal partner.
- You will then directly and indirectly react to these "shortcomings," interrupting the loving connection and leading to the problems described in the diagram above.
- Your spouse, like you, has past unresolved issues and wants to be loved and accepted as s/he is. As both partners strive to get the other to change and to be accepted as they are, the power struggle begins.
Before we get to the solutions...
How do you get from here to a happy marriage...that's the real question. For greater clarity, please be aware of these important considerations:
- Neither of you planned for all of this to happen. It was a subconscious process that occurred in both of you, so it's not really anybody's fault.
- Both of you have responsibility for what has happened, although neither of you is responsible for the actions of the other.
- With that responsibility comes the freedom to change. If you don't take responsibility, you can't change.
As I'm sure you've seen in your own
life, many couples get caught up in the "blame game." This is where the
focus is on the other person, with thoughts like, "If they would
just change, everything would be fine."
When you're thinking thoughts
like this (and we all do), you're not taking responsibility, and so
you're not free to initiate change. Learn more about solving marital problems.
Steps To A Happy Marriage
Here is an overview of the steps you need to take as a couple to be happy in your marriage:
Now let's go further into each of these steps...
Commitment is key
This one is your individual task alone. You do this because of the good, high integrity person you are, and it does not depend on how happy or unhappy you may be in your marriage.
- Commit to accept responsibility for your own thoughts, actions and emotions. If you don't do this, then you'll end up blaming your spouse...and that is a prescription for problems.
- Commit to looking "under the hood" of your own expectations and patterns of communicating. There is a story behind every action you take and reaction you have in your marriage, and if you don't work on your story (your past), it will work on you.
- Commit to your own ongoing personal development. If you're not moving forward, you will move backward. There is no standing still in this world where the only constant is change.
- Commit to become the best person and spouse you can possibly be. This is your choice and responsibility, and does not depend on your spouse or how you feel about them.
Agreement is essential
This one is on both of you. While it may not be easy to come to these agreements, just making the effort will help your marriage tremendously.
- Agree to withhold criticism. While this may sound extreme, you probably already know what criticism does to a marriage. It will slowly eat away at the love until it seems to be gone entirely.
- Agree to meet each others' needs. Spend some time finding out
what your unmet childhood needs were, then make a list of your current
needs in your marriage. Swap lists and commit to do your best in meeting
your partner's needs.
- Agree to focus on each others' positive aspects. This is love. Focusing on what's wrong with your spouse is not love. It's as simple as that. Do this all day every day.
- Agree to protect the relationship
from anger, sarcasm, infidelity, addiction and neglect. Your marriage
relationship is sacred, and your agreement here is to be a vigilant
protector of this sacred space.
- Agree to provide joy, love and integrity for your marriage. This is what creates the fertile ground in which a lasting love can blossom and grow.
Mastery is magical
You are capable of mastery. You may not ordinarily think of yourself that way, but now is a good time to start. A happy marriage requires a certain level of mastery, and this is what truly brings the magic into your relationship.
Mastery comes with practice, and throughout this web site you will find tools and exercises you can use in designing your own personal plan for practicing into mastery.
- The art of appreciation
will help you access and connect with who you truly are. Make up your
mind to become an appreciator, of yourself, your spouse and the world
around you. This will raise the value of your marriage and your entire life.
- The art of having fun
raises your energy level, improves your health, and makes you a
contributor to the light and laughter in this beautiful and sometimes
beleaguered world. And, having fun with your spouse will do wonders for your marriage.
- The art of creating interest is
simply a matter of using your mind to stay abreast of the fascinating
and constantly developing realm of creativity and innovation in this
world. This will help you create good conversation with your spouse, an essential ingredient to a happy marriage.
- The art of making love
is an ongoing process of bringing ever more comfort, affection and intimacy to your marriage partner. Making love is much more than the sexual act. This approach to lovemaking may not be natural
for many of us, but the skills can be learned. The rewards, of course, are huge.
- The art of enjoying life and love
is really just a matter of constantly becoming a better Goodfinder in
your inner and outer worlds. And you must be already on that journey,
or you wouldn't be reading this.
You can have a happy marriage. Follow the guidance on this page and throughout our positive, encouraging content, and never, ever give up on what you want.