40 Day Challenge, Day 23: Objectivity

Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Today’s theme is ‘Objectivity.’

Most of us bring a certain amount of “baggage” into marriage, and the older you are when you get married the larger the pile is likely to be. It’s important that each of us own our own “pile.” That means not making your spouse pay for someone else’s mistakes … and to recognize that there are some relationships (not all of them healthy ones) that are going to continue even after you are married.

Now, to be honest I went into marriage with certain ideas about what a good marriage looks like. It looked remarkably like my parent’s marriage, where Mom kept the perfect house and Dad walked in the door at 6:15 each day to have dinner with the family, and spent a good chunk of each weekend either working outside or down in his workshop, tinkering.

And in the early stages of our relationship, I took it upon myself to communicate these expectations with unequivocal clarity to my sweetheart . . . who seemed to agree with me. Of course, we didn’t have dinner together every night, even after we were engaged, because work was taking up so much of his time right then. And he spent an inordinate amounts of each weekend at work as well — never enough to miss seeing me altogether, but enough that I should have known what was ahead.

Before we married, I might have taken an objective look at this and realized that our ideas about work were very different. I would then have been free to marry him, or not, according to how important those ideals were to me. (The other day I came across this wonderful essay by a woman who handled this issue with far more grace than I did … Hope it helps!)

After we married, my options became much more limited. Basically, there were two:  accept that he was always going to be a workhorse, and find ways to keep myself busy until he came up for air. Or make us both unhappy by continuing to point out all the ways he was failing to meet my expectations regarding family life.

The man was pushing fifty, and had been a bachelor all his life. There was only so much he was going to change, even for me. So . . . I had to step back and take an objective look at all the reasons I was glad I’d married him, and what a happy marriage was going to look like for us. Not dinner together every night — but dinner together on weekends, and a nightly cup of tea. Not weekends in which we’d catch up on projects around the house, but weekends when he worked from home, one eye on the laptop, the other eye on his family.

Your situation is likely very different, the conflicts you’ve encountered again and again are likely about something else altogether. The question is: Have you taken time to stand back and see if (or how) you are contributing to the conflict, and if there is something you can do about it? Some of those long-cherished ideas about what constitutes a “happy marriage” may have to be set aside. What makes the two of YOU happy?

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