I had a conversation with my husband a few nights ago about what it was that created ease in our relationship...
Many people say that marriage takes work. But is it hard work? Or something else?
If a marriage doesn't require 'work'...then what does it require? What is the difference between marriages that have ease and those that feel like hard work?
I wondered what word sums up what it is that marriage requires, for us to create the marriage we want?
What is it that prevents our marriages from ending in divorce?
Why do some people make it look easy and for others, it feels like a hard job?
In the past, I have bought into the reasoning that marriage is hard work and have realised that it wasn't really 'sold' to me as a child or young adult as being something that I wanted to do. The word 'work' felt heavy when talking about something as special and unique as I believed marriage should be.
Because of this, (and my fear of divorce) I did not have the desire to get married until much later in my life, when I met someone who made me realise that what I have believed marriage could be like, really did exist.
But I get it...I get why people say that marriage takes work.
In fact, I ask my clients to do 'the work' when they commit to a series of coaching sessions to improve their marriage or relationship.
Though I feel that that is different. By the point that couples come to see me their relationship has already become 'work'. Because it is hard, it is painful, it takes effort and lots of energy to cope with the day-to-day struggles between them and their partner.
What I admire about my clients though, is their resilience. It is their ability and determination, despite what they have been through, and how hurt they may feel, to commit to change. They tell me, I will do anything to make this better, and they mean it. And then 'the work' begins.
And it takes focus, and effort, clarity, and awareness.
The willingness to change the points of view, behaviours and actions that hurt their relationship without them realising it was happening.
The desire to truly look at themselves and ask, what can I do differently that will change this?
To me, that is the work.
But what about before couples get to the point where they need support in their relationship?
How can couples avoid the spiral that many experience? Is that 'work'?
Before we tied the knot, I told my husband that if we were to marry then our marriage must be an absolute priority. We must put our marriage at the forefront of our minds and protect it like it is the most precious part of our lives. I made a decision. That I would fiercely protect my marriage, that I would care for it and pay attention to it. If anything came close to affecting it negatively I would notice it and deal with it. We would talk about it often, checking in to see if everything was going well, that my husband was happy, that I was happy. And regular check-ins to see how we could make it even better.
I don't feel that that should be described as work.
What I did was set an intention. My intention was that my marriage would be a priority.
To do that I tended for it, paid attention to it, made time for it, and took pride in it. I was consistent in my actions and took responsibility for them. When things go wrong I ask what part I played rather than blame my husband. Thankfully he does the same. Because we talk about it, we talk about our relationship with the purpose of how we can improve it.
No one knows absolutely for sure whether they will be a divorce statistic or a couple who celebrated their 50th anniversary.
I know that I don't.
Marriage can't be taken for granted. It is easy to take it for granted.
It is there every day.
Until it isn't.
So, it is with the awareness that nothing is guaranteed that we can arm ourselves with knowledge, support, guidance, and tools that can help us to ensure that our relationship is the best it can be. It is more reason to honour yourself by doing all you can to protect and grow your relationship.
So we don't know.
But what we can do is take care of it.
Treat it like the precious part of our lives that it is.
Do that together.
If you both can tend and care for your marriage like you would a plant that you want to grow, or a child that you love, then you have the best chance of success.
If you are reading this and you are struggling in your relationship please know that it took me many years of heartache and studying myself and relationships. to get to the point where I knew how to make a relationship work for me. They don't teach this stuff in school. We find out and learn the hard way, most of us anyway.
But you can change this for yourself.
When you know better you do better.
Sometimes we just need someone to show us how.
If you are still together when reading this then there is still hope, still room to grow, and still, more to learn and understand.
I wish you well.
Please get in touch if you are interested in working with met to coach you with your relationship, I will be happy to hear from you.