I was listening to a presentation by Liza Shaw, a Marriage and Family Therapist, given on TEDxHickory. From her practice, she discovers that a marriage relationship typically lasts 10-30 years and then breaks down. In order to help marriages thrive and last longer, marriage needs an upgrade. In this presentation she deconstructs old ideas of marriage and suggests new ones as replacements for the old.
The following is a combination of her comments and mine.
The first is “People who love each other shouldn’t hurt each other”. No one wants to be hurt especially by people they love the most. If we operate on the assumption that hurt is bad in a marriage, then we would only last as long as we can endure the pain. It is like saying “Don’t drive on ice. Ice is bad”. But driving on ice is as inevitable as getting hurt in a relationship. Accept the fact that you will get hurt and you might as well get prepared for it.
The other is “Happy people always compromise”. How many times have we been told this? But, how many of us feel great when we walk away from a compromise? Hardly anyone. I say, “Don’t compromise”. Compromise leads to “turn-taking”. Today, I compromised; tomorrow will be my turn. But what if your turn does not come? You will be resentful, and resentment is not a gift for your spouse. Instead of compromise, seek a solution that both will agree on.
“My partner and I will fulfil all of each other’s needs and make each other happy.” Why would I put the power for my fulfilment outside of myself. This notion is quite insane, really since each of us are responsible for our own fulfilment. It is common to hear couples complain, saying, “I’ve been giving, and giving. When will it be my turn to receive?” Who are you concerned about when you have such thoughts? You. Being self-centred feels awful but being selfless is rewarding and empowering. “Happiness is a byproduct of True Contribution”.
“Never go to bed angry.” You might have believed it and have given this advise to others yourself. But consider this: “Just go to bed.” There is a part of our brain called the amygdala that controls our flight or fight response. Some are more inclined to “fight” while others are inclined to withdraw. The advise to “go to bed” is not telling you to ignore the problem or sweep it under the carpet. But it is the way to calm down till you and your spouse are able to resolve it amicably.
“It takes 2 to make a marriage work.”Many couples enter into marriage believing that their spouse will change over time or that one partner would be able to change the other. This has led to disappointment and resentment. If only they had understood that “It takes one to change – YOU.” You are the only one that you are in control of. If there is one person you are able to effect change in, it is you.