I started this article by considering a question sent to me by a client, and echoed by many others, who wanted to know what was reasonable to expect from a partner in marriage. As I was scouring other emails to see what related questions there were on this topic I came upon this pearl I just had to use it as it summed up so beautifully exactly my thoughts on the topic of expectations.
The email started with the line that is the title of this week’s article and then went on to say: “Worry less and be happy. Because the happier you are with yourself and your life, the more attractive you are to your partner. .. Start today to work on being the kind of person you would want to know, date, and marry. If you’re not that kind of person, how can you expect your spouse to stay attracted or stay passionate?” I absolutely agree with these sentiments.
What can I expect from marriage?
The way to live this is simple: remember when you first met and what it was that attracted you to your partner in the first place. It might have been their smile, their easy laugh, their care and consideration of you or their willingness to listen to you ad nauseam.
Now contemplate how you responded to that.
Your response would naturally have been happiness, in being paid so much consideration, and joy at being the centre of someone else’s attention pulling you even closer to each other.
While we all start our relationships this way the sad thing is that somewhere along the way we returned to our selfish habits and forgot what it was we did at the beginning that endeared us so compellingly to the other.
So the way back to that special place is, as my client suggested, by being the best and the happiest you can be and behave in the way that you did when you first met every day of your life. In addition expect no less than that from your partner.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
A famous Couples Counsellor by the name of John Gottman speaks of four distinct ways of interacting that doom your marriage to failure. These are the absolute contradiction of how you should relate to your partner and expect your partner to relate to you.
- The First Horseman – Criticism – this involves attacking with blame someone’s personality or character, rather than a specific behaviour. If there is something you don’t like about what your partner is doing let them know what that is and what you would rather they do instead.
- The Second Horseman – Contempt – this has a conscious or subconscious intent of insulting or belittling your partner with words or actions. Just remember your partner has all the faults and failings of all human beings, yourself included, and deserves to be treated with the respect that everyone deserves.
- The Third Horseman – Defensiveness – This has to do with denying responsibility or making excuses or whinging and whining when things don’t go your way. Stand up and be willing to accept your part in any misunderstanding that comes up between you and do what you need to do to repair the damage done.
- The Fourth Horseman – Stonewalling – This happens when you refuse to respond to your partner or even to get into a conversation to find a resolution to an issue. Of course there are going to be times when it’s not good for you to respond because of high emotions. If this happens simply let your partner know that now is not a good time to have this conversation with a promise to return and/or even a time to make that happen.
So be yourself the person you would want to marry each and every day. There really is no greater joy as, in being that, so can your partner be.
So until next time – Relate with Love