“Marriage requires work! No days off! Constant effort!”
It’s true, absolutely. But let’s reframe the conversation. If you want your love to grow, you have to nurture your relationship. But don’t think of the effort in terms of stamina or hard work, rather fight for your relationship, but not in the way you are probably currently doing it.
So often in life we are confronted by a challenge. We approach it analytically. We apply logic. We sit on the “couch” week after week. Quickly, our focus becomes entirely captivated by the problem at hand. It reminds me of a children’s song called “Going on a Bear Hunt” about hiking through the woods and encountering a river running through their trail. Each obstacle they encounter they assess:
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
We’re taught from a very young age that when a challenge arises, we must use our intellect and our ingenuity to get through it. Later, we learn about effective communication techniques and add the use of “I” statements (never ‘you’ statements) to our toolbox. We are problem solvers and tool makers and it’s a wonderful aspect of our humanity.
Yet, with all of our tools, why is it that couples have the same arguments over and over, for years? Each partner feels that they are right and the other wrong. So many couples have running arguments that never find resolution and in fact just get more and more weight added year after year, each confrontation more explosive than the last.
What if there existed one tool that could defuse nearly any stressful situation? The only thing that you need to do is change your consciousness. Decide that no matter how satisfying it would be, you are not going to say or even think:
“I told you so.”
“If you had done as I asked, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“You said you were taking care of that!”
Instead, you put their feelings ahead of your own, and you turn it around. This is where the friendship comes in. Friends set aside their desire to vent and instead defuse the situation, because they prioritize the relationship and their love (even though they may not be feeling loving in that moment) over a moment’s outburst (no matter how tempting they may find it at the time.) You find a way to make it funny. Usually there is an observation to be made or a reference to something else. You turn it around.
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” –Mark Twain
Reframe your thoughts. Instead of focusing on the challenges in your relationship, try practicing levity. The uncomfortable truth of the matter is that some couples will not ever resolve certain topics, but that doesn’t mean that their relationship doesn’t work or that they shouldn’t be together. It’s an issue that has the power to be divisive if they let it. There’s always a choice to instead have a good laugh and draw closer together.
There was a couple I met with where the wife had a real problem with her husband leaving a trail of scrubs from the door to the shower every time he arrived home from work. It really bothered her. One day, instead of getting angry, she stood at the top of the stairs and kicked his scrub pants down the stairs where they landed in front of him while he was watching television. She called down, “Just be glad you weren’t wearing them!” They both lost it, laughing hysterically.
Be likable, be a friend. Happy relationships rely far more on how much fun you have as a couple rather than successful conflict resolution.
My husband and I gave a lecture together as a couple a few weeks ago. At one point while Michael was discussing the importance of friendship and laughter he said, “Being up here with Monica just makes me happy.”
I think that’s the whole point.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Ask yourself, “How fun am I to be around?” If the answer is “not very” turn it around.
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