In many ways, the path to a happy marriage is symbolized by the spiral and straight line of the unalome symbol for enlightenment. The spiral suggests struggle; the straight line, harmony.
Unlike movies where love conquers all, a real marriage takes some work. If Hollywood were to offer sequels to romantic comedies, telling the story of what happens to the lovebirds during the course of their married life, the storyline would veer in a completely different direction.
Here are 5 ways to enhance the experience of marriage:
1. Get a good night’s rest.
If you wake up tired and suffer from sleep deprivation, then it’s difficult to be patient and kind when the need arises. If your spouse also doesn’t get a good night’s rest, then it’s doubling all the things that can go wrong when it comes to everyday living, date nights and family time. Finding a better mattress to sleep on can make all the difference in the world and it may be time to be on the lookout for a mattress sale.
2. Practice humility.
If you’re particularly good at a few things, say, you have a knack for budgeting, punctuality, or staying organized, then you tend to assume that if these things are easy for you, they must be easy for everyone else. Unfortunately, human beings are complex and we differ on even simple skillsets. Your marriage will flourish if you take a kinder, gentler approach to your spouse’s shortcomings when it comes to life skills.
3. Ask for help.
We often assume that we have to do everything ourselves. Unfortunately, while we are often acutely aware of another person’s shortcomings, we appear blissfully unaware of our own shortsightedness. Sharing your ideas, asking for advice, and trying to figure things out together are often the best way to spark your a-ha moments.
4. Learn how to fight fair.
When your spouse appears less than loving, kind, considerate, or appreciative, it triggers off an alarm that things are perilously off course. You react with anger to a minor stimulus, which is then immediately reciprocated, and within seconds, an offhand comment or sign of disinterest results in an all-out war of words. You say cruel things, reopening past misgivings, and, generally speaking, behave like a lunatic, perhaps even go so far as to grab the car keys and drive around the city for hours until you finally limp back home, exhausted by your own frantic inner dialogue. If you and your significant other learn how to fight fair, small flames won’t become conflagrations.
5. Dispel your illusions.
We are all a little childish because the idea of love as the perfect solution to life’s woes has been drilled into us since childhood. So, somewhere in your subconscious mind is a perfectly organized catalog of every love song that ever touched your heart and every romantic movie scene that made your eyes mist up.
When you finally meet someone and fall hopelessly in love, your childish romantic expectations of how the other person should think and act to keep you safe and happy cause all sorts of conflicts. Besides the external conflicts, there are also internal conflicts. You feel lonely when you’re not alone, sad when your life isn’t half as bad as it used to be and confused over issues that, in the great scheme of things, aren’t worth a second thought.
Here’s the thing: your happiness isn’t anyone else’s responsibility. It’s your own. The most other people can do is to take wild guesses on what you like and don’t like and what to do or not do around you. If you’re unhappy about anything, you’re the only one who can fix the problem. If you can’t fix it directly, because it’s outside your sphere of influence, then you can fix it indirectly, by reframing it so that it doesn’t shatter you.
In summary, a marriage is a work of art. Happy marriages, like gorgeous paintings, are a result of creative thinking, spontaneous insights, and sheer effort. It takes a lot of skill to navigate our own world, let alone cope with trying to understand what makes someone else tick. However, the good news is that most everyday conflicts that arise in a marriage can be healed with a dash of love, a sprinkle of kindness, and a generous helping of effort to understand the other person.