Hi, ladies, if you're reading this, then you probably know that marriage is far from that fantasy you had as a little girl, of being swept away by your perfect Prince Charming who would carry you off to your perfect new home for a perfect life together.
What's funny about all the fairy tales and Disney movies is that the curtain comes down just after the happy couple rides off into the sunset together. Well, of course that's where it ends… at "the happy ending."
If the movie kept on going, you'd probably see Cinderella a year or two from now, covered in spitup, can't seem to drop the baby weight, exhausted from lack of sleep and silently fuming at hubby who is hiding in the garage drinking beer and surfing porn!
Marriage is also not the ultimate soul mate who, as a teenager or young adult, you were convinced you'd find and marry. You know, the guy who would hang onto your every word with rapt attention, always look and smell amazing, drive you just crazy enough to be wildly irresistible sexually, and finish your sentences for you.
As it turns out, the romance part of marriage slowly dies out once the honeymoon phase is over. As soon as kids enter the picture, you are looking at a rather unglamorous picture of coupled life.
But what we tend to forget about marriage is that it's not unlike the diamond he placed on her finger so long ago. Like that diamond, decades of trying to survive life with a second ego to contend with, will toughen you on the outside. But the funny thing about it all is that as resentment builds, ironically so does resilience.
Marriages survive, and can even transcend despite decades of struggle and strife. Love lives on beneath it all. Love, patiently waiting for your partner to chisel away the crusty exterior to expose the fragile beauty of two faithful hearts… and the preciousness of a commitment that stood the test of time and emerged all the stronger for it.
So that said, how do you make the most of married life? How to make your marriage lasts "forever" more like nirvana and less like a prison sentence - which it at times can be either, both, and most often something in between the two extremes.
We already know what we want. Truth is, your picture of a perfect partnership may look nothing like someone else's, and the picture may change over time as your needs and priorities change, and as you grow and learn.
So the first thing we can do in thinking of our wants and needs in a partnership, is recognize that there is a human being on the other side. We take turns, giving some, taking some, then switching roles.
So if we want to ensure that we're getting what WE want, we would do well to consider what it is that THEY want. And furthermore; we should just WANT to give because it feels good.
In some ways, men and women can be very different, and in other ways, they can be the same. So let's start exploring how to be better at marriage by looking for needs and wishes that husbands and wives have in common.
My Partner, My Friend
In marriage, husbands and wives ultimately both want a friend. People always say, "A husband or wife should be your best friend," and although you may start off this way while still dating, circumstances and habits can rob us of this closeness which is really what we long for.
Of course, in some relationships things are more complicated. It's possible there's this deep-down feeling that you never were friends in the first place, and that it's all a sham, but you don't know how to break through in order to engage authentically.
If your husband once felt like a friend but doesn't anymore… you might ask yourself why, and how you may have contributed to the situation without even realizing it.
Perhaps the two of you have fallen into repetitive conversational patterns and predictable scripts - things that husbands or wives think they should say because maybe they're modeling their marriage after their own parents, or the people in their social circle… or maybe someone watched one too many episodes of Dr. Phil.
So if you're serious about working toward a marriage that brings reward and not resentment, then ask yourself this simple question: am I treating my partner as a friend?
One good way to determine this is to pay closer attention to how you go about initiating situations and responding to things your partner says and does. If you often feel like you're up against a wall when dealing with your husband over the simplest of matters, it can help to stop and assess your own attitude and behavior.
Do you pay attention to him when he's telling you about his day or do you brush him aside because you were too busy with your own work? Do you both spend time doing things together?
It may be the simplest things like cooking a meal together or watching the TV drama together after dinner and discussing about the show's events. The main idea is that both of you are talking to each other. It's important to remember to communicate with each other no matter how long you've been married.
If both of you are able to communicate like you would with your good friends, you will find that you'll have more patience with your partner and you'll be less likely to lash out at him quickly instead of trying to put your point across to him calmly.
If you have trouble doing this, try this exercise. Rehash the scene in question in your own mind. But instead of visualizing your hubby, imagine that it's happening with a good friend of yours, or someone you have especially loving feelings and boatloads of patience for, like one of your children.
How might you have approached this if it were your son or daughter or best gal pal? Would you have been more patient? Would you have assumed the best of intentions? Would you have offered the person benefit of the doubt?
So the next time you feel yourself spiraling into an argument with your husband, stop and try to imagine the same scene playing out with you and that good friend of yours. How will your approach and reactions change?
When we truly feel that our husband is a friend and not an adversary, we become more open minded, more patient, more tolerant and more forgiving.
Try out the above exercise and remember to come back and leave your comment below on your experience! I'm sure it will help others who are in the same boat as you.