Monday, March 19, 2012

Let's Talk (Part 1 of 3)

Pillar number two: Mental.

This is also a fairly obvious one to me, mental/spiritual connection. You need to be able to talk to your other half. I don’t think that every married couple should be super intelligent and have intellectual debates in their spare time. It just means that you can easily carry out many, many conversations with that person on a daily basis and not get bored. It is simply communication (more on that later).

A friend of mine once explained it to me like this: if you are living with this person, seeing them every day, you work for 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours, that’s 8 hours left over in the company of your partner. I ask you, would it be healthy to never have any kind of conversation in those 8 hours?

You don’t have to have the same interests. People tend to look for common interests in a potential partner when it rarely has any bearing on compatibility (at least that’s how I see it). It’s less about the what and more about the how. The beauty of marriage is you learn of such things from each other. I do think, however. it is important to have somewhat similar mental capacities. Fear not, just because one is incapable of holding an intelligent conversation, does not mean you are doomed. It just means you are likely to have better luck with someone who is similarly incapable in that department. You can talk about celebrity hairstyles instead or gossip about the latest events and vacation spots to both your hearts’ content. There is someone for everyone in that respect. For every Barbie (or Fulla), there is a Ken (is there a male Fulla?).

Talking to one another has to be easy and effortless. You must feel comfortable to say what you want and actually enjoy the conversations you have, whatever the topic may be. There is also comfort in the silence when in each other’s company, you don’t have to talk all the time. Not everyone likes to spend their evenings talking; not much of a talker, more the silent type. As long as both of you are happy doing so, neither one is feeling deprived of anything and you are comfortable with how it is. But when one person likes to sit and ponder on life’s wonders (or even worse, talk about ‘feelings’), and the other likes to just watch the news and randomly comment to a one-person audience, there could be a problem. If one person wants to be challenged mentally while the other is mentally challenged, there could be a problem. How can a marriage last under such circumstances? Day in and day out, such a simple thing could become a burden or just downright annoying, and it could ultimately put a huge strain on the relationship. It is important that whatever level you are at mentally, your other half is hovering nearby.

Also, it’s not just what you talk about, it’s how you talk. Some couples prefer to keep things simple and are quite laidback, while others demand an air of respect when spoken to by their partners. Bottom line, whatever floats your boat, as long as both of you are in it. It should all come easily, shouldn’t feel forced.

Another concern is not just to feel comfortable, but to feel safe too, as  Mark Grungor (of ‘Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage’) explains in the following video: 

I found that some people, particularly those with older siblings, have grown up hiding what they think for fear of being ridiculed. Perhaps some people grew up in an environment where they felt they were never heard, or whenever they did speak, they would immediately get shut down. I find this more common with men than women (women rarely have trouble talking, they never need more than a nudge). For this reason, sometimes you need to make the extra effort to cut back on the ridicule and teasing to allow your other half to feel safe when talking to you. Try not to be condescending or insulting either. They wouldn’t feel the need to hold back on anything. No matter how fun and light-hearted your relationship may seem, know that there are boundaries. Sometimes all you are required to do is listen, you don't always have to nag your way in. Let them know the door is open and they will come to you when they are good and ready. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Love and Marriage (Part 3 of 3)

Be wary of love that sweeps you off your feet. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t take my word for it if you disagree, I’ll just wait in the sidelines when you crash and burn to tell you I told you so.  A little harsh, I know. But I mean well. I’ll be waiting to help you back up eventually (after ‘I told you so’). Honestly though, if things start to seem too perfect, look again. And again. Go splash your face with cold water and look again. There must be something you are missing. If there’s still nothing, start pushing buttons, try to get some sort of reaction. If things are still peachy, run for the hills. That kind of perfection is the stuff of psychopaths and horror films. Part of being in love is having ‘lovers’ quarrels’. It’s in the name, it’s gotta happen! This image of the ideal that has been painted in our minds is precisely that; an image, a still shot of what love could be (and an exaggerated one at that). It does not adequately represent the reality of the situation. People have this induced expectation of what love is from so many different sources. All of which may or may not be true at all, regardless, it does not necessarily hold true to you. Each and every person views life differently, and with that love is perceived differently as well. Even the value of love differs from person to person. Even the types of love vary (e.g. you don't love your family as you would your friends). We hear so much about this concept of 'love' as if it's some sort of hot commodity and people are desperate to experience it, only to realize it's not at all what they expected. Live your life, in time you will come to realize what it is you define as 'love' and you'll be that much closer to finding it. 

I wanted to side-track a bit and briefly touch on two matters which were somewhat presented in the previous 2 posts.

La familia! Parents can get a wee-bit pushy. Parents, I know you’d rather see them married and miserable than not married at all, but don’t do this to your kids. Forcing your children to marry – or for those who deny they force their kids, let’s say ‘insisting’ your children marry – cannot guarantee their happiness. You can’t know what will happen to them further down the line. I’m sure as parents you’d like to believe you know what’s best for them, but when it comes to a life THEY will be leading, a marriage that will no longer involve you once they are husband and wife, I beseech you practice some restraint, have some prudence and listen to your children. Let them know it’s ok to say no for their own reasons, don’t make them feel pressured to marry simply to please you. Because when things go wrong, I assure you they WILL blame you. Marriage is not the be-all and end-all of life, don’t make your kids feel it is either. Yes, it is important, but in due time and with the right person.

"If it is right, it happens - The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away"

Another side note, also concerning parents (sort of). So you’re married, you live together as husband and wife, and you have a bit of a squabble (i.e. ‘lovers’ quarrel’). Actually, you have a lot of squabbles (you’re married, it is expected and completely normal). So you resolve these squabbles, or not, it is up to the two of you to deal with such matters. Only the two of you. The worst thing you can do in a marriage is involve your parents (or anyone else for that matter) in your…squabbles. Unless the two of you fail to reach an understanding and both agree to involving a third party, do not run to someone else to fix your problems, especially when your partner is unaware you are doing so. There is no bigger betrayal of trust than this. You took an issue that was between the two of you and ran off to someone else to step in and fight your battles for you. Your other half who was unaware of your sly tactic is suddenly bombarded by someone other than you about what may or may not be a personal matter, regardless it was something that is to be kept between the two of you. With that you could so easily lose their trust in such a way that could be impossible to get back. The damages of doing such a thing could be irreparable. Trust is so closely tied to love, lose it and the love is destined for destruction. It is ludicrous to expect a marriage to survive once the trust is gone. How can you share a bed with someone you don’t trust? Might as well be sleeping with a stranger. 

On the other hand however, if the marriage is a destructive or God forbid an abusive one, then make haste and run to someone who can get you out! Yes, maintaining that trust between husband and wife is important but somehow that idea has been twisted. Those with abusive partners feel too scared to betray that trust, and nothing in a mutual relationship such as this should be done out of fear. What I'm saying here is that as important as it is to keep certain marital issues private between the two of you, it ain't that important!

In the end, I have come to the conclusion that an emotional connection is vital for any marriage (an apparent one I know, but I found it’s not always the case). If you love the person you are with, if you are open and honest, playing the other half will come easily to you and won’t feel like a chore. If you find that common ground where you are emotionally linked, find that level of comfort which suits you both, you are more likely to connect on other levels too. It would make marriage more effortless; you’re no longer making sacrifices, going out of your way to please the other simply for the sake of the marriage, it would be out of love and therefore you would be happy to do it.

After all, 'love lifts as up where we belong!' (so much for realistic expectations).