sacrament-of-marriage

 

I feel bad for marital communication, because it gets blamed for everything. For generations, in survey after survey, couples have rated marital communication as the number one problem in marriage. It’s not.

Marital communication is getting a bad rap. It’s like the kid who fights back on the playground. The playground supervisors hear a commotion and turn their heads just in time to see his retaliation. He didn’t create the problem; he was reacting to the problem. But he’s the one who gets caught, so he’s sent off to the principal’s office.

Or, in the case of marital communication, the therapist’s office.

I feel bad for marital communication, because everyone gangs up on him, when the truth is, on the playground of marriage, he’s just reacting to one of the other troublemakers who started the fight:  As a therapist, I can teach a couple how to communicate in an hour. It’s not complicated. But dealing with the troublemakers who started the fight? Well, that takes a lifetime.

1. We marry people because we like who they are. People change. Plan on it. Don’t marry someone because of who they are, or who you want them to become.Marry them because of who they are determined to become. And then spend a lifetime joining them in their becoming, as they join you in yours.

2. Marriage doesn’t take away our loneliness. To be alive is to be lonely. It’s the human condition. Marriage doesn’t change the human condition. It can’t make us completely unlonely. And when it doesn’t, we blame our partner for doing something wrong, or we go searching for companionship elsewhere. Marriage is intended to be a place where two humans share the experience of loneliness and, in the sharing, create moments in which the loneliness dissipates. For a little while.

3. Shame baggage. Yes, we all carry it it. We spend most of our adolescence and early adulthood trying to pretend our shame doesn’t exist so, when the person we love triggers it in us, we blame them for creating it. And then we demand they fix it. But the truth is, they didn’t create it and they can’t fix it. Sometimes the best marital therapy is individual therapy, in which we work to heal our own shame. So we can stop transferring it to the ones we love.

4. Life is messy and marriage is life. So marriage is messy, too. But when things stop working perfectly, we start blaming our partner for the snags. We add unnecessary mess to the already inescapable mess of life and love. We must stop pointing fingers and start intertwining them. And then we can we walk into, andthrough, the mess of life together. Blameless and shameless.

5. We care more about our children than about the one who helped us make them. Our kids should never be more important than our marriage, and they should never be less important. If they’re more important, the little rascals will sense it and use it and drive wedges. If they’re less important, they’ll act out until they are given priority. Family is about the constant, on-going work of finding the balance.

Read the rest of the article at the Huffington Post