“Marriage is our last best chance to grow up.” ~John Barth
I was talking to an old friend the other day. He reached out to get my advice about whether he should get married again. He knows what I do for a living and wanted an “expert” opinion.
This would be marriage #3 for him. He would be all into the woman he married when they were dating. After they married, not so much.
So my answer to him about whether the third time would be the charm was, “only if you’ve learned that marriage behavior is more important than courting behavior.”
Like way too many people, a lot of effort is put into winning a partner without much energy going into keeping them.
And marriage cannot be done on the cheap if it’s going to last.
Part of the problem is that there is a lot of misunderstanding what marriage is. Yes, it’s about love. But only to a point. And it isn’t about personal happiness. Your happiness is a by-product of a good marriage, not its purpose.
Marriage won’t work if you don’t understand that you need to keep your focus on it. This is because it’s designed to test you.
If you aren’t willing to continue to learn both about yourself and your spouse, you will struggle more than you need to.
While you are trying to build a life together, there will be disagreements. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t meant to be together or that your marriage is failing. It is just the natural process of figuring out how to live together.
What you and your partner may see as “irreconcilable” is usually just one or both of you resisting making room for the other. But that is the job of marriage. To make each of you grow as individuals and as a couple.
The more either of you fight this process, the more “work” your marriage will be.
A more helpful approach is to reframe these differences as opportunities to learn and grow. About yourself. About your spouse. About your marriage.
And, if you’re not willing to do that. Don’t get married. Because, more than likely, it won’t end well.
Marriage is designed to test you. The quicker you embrace that, the easier things become.
Your reactions to everything that happens between the two of you is part of that process. You each have the right to ask the other to make adjustments. The more often you can say “yes”, the more wins your marriage racks up.
Courting is a short span of time when weighed against how long your marriage can last. Putting the same level of focus over the years as you did at the beginning is the way to make it something special.
Previously Published on The Hero Husband Project and is republished on Medium.
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