For most of us, when we go into marriage, we don’t go in thinking about how it will end. But end it must, if it is to truly begin.
When couples take their vows during the marriage ceremony, it doesn’t matter whether they’re in a holy church, a sandy beach, a boat off the coast of Santorini, or a dark bar in Sydney (like me) — one thing remains the same for each of them — getting married is easy, staying married takes courage, honesty and commitment.
Doesn’t sound sexy and romantic does it?
The good times and the great feelings of married bliss are real. And don’t get me wrong, I love being married. But the chemically fueled feelings of romance, must grow into a deeper, more robust love, that includes putting your ego aside, if that love is to stand the test of time.
Every relationship will have it’s inevitable dark night of the soul, and its different for everyone. But that’s ok, don’t be afraid of it. It serves a purpose.
For a marriage to evolve, both people in it must first come face to face with each other, and face to face with themselves. And during that ‘face-off’, they must assess, evaluate, and make choices around what they want, and who they want to be, both for each other and for themselves.
Even if you have what you might call a ‘good’ marriage, there are still deeper aspects of that relationship that need to come to an end, or be ‘let go of’, if you want to experience a ‘great’ marriage.
So here’s the thing I want to say. I’m not talking about divorce, splitting up or giving up. The end I’m talking about is the end of your illusions, your fantasies, your expectations and assumptions, about what marriage is and isn’t.
If you try to build a marriage based on what you’ve heard, what you’ve been told, what you’ve come to believe about love and romance from someone else, movies, or romance novels, your chances of success will be fraught with a mindset that may not serve you or your relationship well in the end.
I like this quote from Ellen Boeder, wife of relationship coach Jayson Gaddis: “So often, love isn’t the issue. People often say they are looking for love, but what most of us are really looking for is a partner who will go the distance with us. We want to love and be loved in a way that deepens over time and enriches our lives”.
When asked about his marriage, actor Jeff Bridges said this: “My wife and I have been married for 37 years and we certainly had to come up against arguments. There is one particular argument that I call our “ancient war. If it could be summed up in one phrase, it would be: “You don’t get it. You don’t understand what it’s like to be me living with you.”
And so marriage gives us that opportunity — to truly seek to understand another human being, and to also be understood.
We can never fully know what it’s like for the other person. But we can seek to first understand, then be understood. This is where deep connection is forged, and where true, deep and lasting love between two humans can be experienced.
Marriage isn’t about the chase, the sex, the thrill, the rush of chemicals. It’s about loving another person in a way that brings healing, wholeness and life.
When was the last time you fought with your spouse? How much understanding did you bring to that situation – how much acceptance? It’s so easy to get lost and caught up with our own egos and our own sense of ‘entitlement’, that we forget who it is we are actually fighting with.
Marriage is a beautiful thing, because it gives two humans the opportunity to grow, and experience a depth of love that is a key to both our own personal healing, and to becoming the best versions of themselves they can be.
Not all marriages survive. There are certainly times when they run their course and we need to move on, as painful as that may be. But a good marriage takes time. It takes courage. It takes dedication. It takes patience. It takes kindness. It takes love.
Are you up for it?
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