Marriage has its ebbs and flows, just as the ocean does. It has its good times and its bad times. It is important to understand that marriage is not always the “happily ever after” affair that we wish it could be. Our marriage partner cannot read our minds. Our marriage partner cannot make us happy. Our marriage partner cannot be everything to us and for us. It takes a village to support a marriage.
We need to reach out to our friends and family when we are going through difficult times. Asking them to help us through the difficult times is something we don’t like to do – we want to keep our problems hidden from others – but many times, this is exactly the time we do need their help and support to get through the rough times. They can listen and comfort us and also give us a perspective from outside the relationship that can help bring things back into balance.
In 2005, I did a radio program on “Leading Lives of Quiet Desperation”. It is worth the 15 minutes to listen to it. Go to www.janradio.com and listen to the 6th audio program. It provides insights into the desperate lives both men and women lead when we look behind closed doors. No one’s life is perfect, although it may look perfect from the outside. Then we are surprised when the couple with the “perfect life” all of a sudden split up. What can be done to prevent this from happening?
During many of the wedding ceremonies I perform, I speak to the friends and family of the bride and groom to ask them to be there for the couple both during the good times and the bad times. They need support when things are not going well and friends to share things with when things are going well. It takes a village to support a marriage.
Here is an excerpt from a wedding ceremony I did yesterday:
“As family and friends, you form a community of support that surrounds the bride and groom – a Tribe, if you will. Each of you, by your presence here today, is being called upon to uphold them in loving each other. Encourage them when encouragement is needed. Promise to always stand beside them, never between them. Offer them your love and support, without your judgment. Promise to encourage them when encouragement is needed, and counsel them when they ask for advice. In these ways, you can honor this marriage into which they have come to be joined today.”
Every relationship has its ups and downs and it is important to know that we need to work through these times, because the good times will return if we are patient and we work at it. Many times, marriages are ended too easily when they can be saved with a little work and by being a grown-up.
What do I mean by being a grown-up? I mean that first of all, we take responsibility for our own actions. We acknowledge when we have made a mistake. Second, we take responsibility for our own happiness. No one else can do that for us. If our life is lacking something, we are responsible for figuring out what that is and then going after it. Our spouse might be able to help us to figure out what that is, but they cannot be the one to bring happiness. Third, we understand that things will not always be perfect. Fourth, it’s too easy to blame our spouse for our problems. Sometimes, a little time away from our spouse make us realize what we have. If that spouse is not there to blame, it helps us to realize that we have to get out of our slump ourselves. It helps us to appreciate all the things our spouse does bring to the relationship. Think about what things would really be like if your split up with your spouse – all the problems you would have to face alone, the broken family life, the financial difficulties, the loneliness, the additional problems that would arise with a split. It is definitely worth the effort to save the marriage.
Make sure to take time out to have romantic times with one another. This is especially important when we become parents. We may focus too much on the children and forget to go out on dates with one another and take vacations without the children. We need to be sure our own relationship is strong in order to be good parents for our children. This will also give the children a wonderful gift – some special time with their grandparents or friends of the family.
Build a tribe to support you and your family. Give your relationship a chance. Give it time to come around again. Plan some special events that you can look forward to together to help build that bridge again between the two of you. Change your job if you hate it. Take up a new hobby. Go dancing together. Build memories, take pictures, and reminisce about it throughout the years. Run off together and do something fun, whether it is taking a hike, going on a trip, exploring a new area of your city, redecorating a room in your house, reading poetry together, or listening and dancing to music in your living room. Get dressed up and meet for a fantasy “first date” with one another at a fancy bar or restaurant. Who knows? You might end up spending a night with each other at a hotel nearby and have breakfast in bed the next morning!
I wrote the following poem, Ebb and Flow of Marriage, and it was chosen as one of the readings for the wedding yesterday. See if it speaks to you.
We rejoice with you today in your deep love for one another.
We wish for that love to grow and deepen through the years.
Remember, though, a time will come when you feel your love is gone
And instead of being like magnets greatly attracted to each other,
It’s as though the polarity has all of a sudden changed
And you are being pushed apart and cannot stand to be together.
But know that this is part of the natural ebb and flow of love and relationships
And the polarity will reverse once again
And you’ll discover that your love and attraction for one another
Has not disappeared, but is back as strong as ever.
We will rejoice with you in your times of love
And support you in your times of tribulation.