There are four things you'll have to embrace if you want to wake up every morning with a positive experience of marriage. Before I give them to you, I'll give a word of caution.
Positive ain't easy. Negative is. It's easy to see what's wrong with your marriage. It's easy to focus on the many ways your partner doesn't live up to your expectations. It's easy to rehearse their faults, or your children's faults, or even your financial shortcomings. You are surrounded with images that help you focus on 'what's wrong.' It's easy to live in the anxiety and worry that focusing on what's wrong and what's missing produces.
But you don't have to and, believe it or not, it's your choice. Here are four ideas that if practiced daily will change the way you look at, live in and experience your marriage.
- You cannot have an 'exit plan.' Jettison all ideas that sound even close to: 'maybe this isn't working;' 'maybe I made a mistake in marrying him/her;' 'maybe we just fell out of love;' 'if I were with ______, I'd be happier.' Exit plans are illusions that take you into fantasy. They are not helpful in problem solving and they do not take you where you need to go. Where you need to go is -
- "I am 100% responsible for the happiness in this relationship. I am 100% responsible for everything that is missing in this relationship. I am 100% responsible for creating the reality I live within." Caution: don't confuse this with living with abuse. Use your head. When I say 100% I mean that if I honestly and sincerely say that to myself there is a very big possibility that my partner will be safe enough to say the same to herself. If you say that,
- Then you must focus on living in the present. This means that what has happened has happened. What might happen might happen. The future and the past are useless relationally. The only sane thing I can do is live within what is happening now. Theories about my partner, diagnoses of my partner, analyses of my partner – all are useless. But,
- Letting go of my fear (that I'll be alone, that my partner doesn't love me, that relationships are only temporary, that ...) letting go of fear opens me to address what is happening now. So what is it that I need to change today, at this moment? Is it communication? OK, then I need to communicate with my partner wherever she is, now. Is it anxiety about money? OK, then I need to specify, right now, what I can do today about that (eg. I, this morning, canceled a cherished magazine subscription because it was the right thing to do. It will not substantially change our finances but in this moment I addressed financial anxiety). Whatever it is, begin it. Address it. Procrastination is not your friend.
- No exit plan, 100% responsibility, live in the present, and, address as well as you can any issue or challenge that is disturbing you – will get you started on a new path toward a positive marriage. Underneath all that, believe in your choice of each other. Believe in your own love.
With thanks to Dennis Merritt Jones, here's a quote from Tolle, (The Power of Now)
"A great deal of what people say, think, or do is actually motivated by fear, which of course is always linked with having your focus on the future and being out of touch with the Now. As there are no problems in the Now, there is no fear either."
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now