I tend to hate lists that substitute as articles. Buzzfeed may be fun eye-candy, but bullet points can never go particularly deep, you know?
But because this is a dating/relationship blog and because I vow to only give you the most thought-provoking and useful content from around the internet, I was struck by this short piece on Relevant Magazine (which is doing much better now that it’s rebranded from Obsolete Magazine).
It’s called “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married” and, like most lists, it packs a good punch for its length.
1. Marriage Is Not About Living Happily Ever After
“Although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage has a far more significant purpose in sight. It is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire and help us grow.
Any dating advice that talks about how to do well with the opposite sex by being difficult, aloof, unpredictable, or intentionally challenging misses the mark. Give and ye shall receive.
When we’re willing to see it this way, then the points of friction in our marriages quickly become gifts that consistently invite us into a more whole and fulfilling experience of life.”
I do like to emphasize the happiness part of marriage, because that’s what gets you into it – the promise of being with someone who gets you, accepts you, and loves you despite your flaws. But what this author is saying is that you can never entirely escape yourself – and your flaws are never more exposed than they are in marriage. If you want to be a good partner, you have to own your flaws and work on being the best partner you can be, instead of pointing fingers about how your partner is always “wrong”.
This is why it’s SO important to choose a good, self-aware, communicative partner BEFORE you get married, instead of marrying out of love and HOPING you chose wisely.
2. The More You Give to Marriage, The More It Gives Back.
“For 31 days, I intentionally put my wife first over everything else, and then I tracked how it worked…Notably, on the days my wife genuinely felt valued, I observed her advocating for me to invest deeply in to my work. She no longer saw our relationship and my career pursuits as competitors for my attention, and as she partnered with me in my career, I have experienced the benefits of having the closest person in my life champion me.”
The more you give to ANYTHING, the more it gives back. Put 50 hours a week into your work, and you’ll likely be very successful at work. But while we have the best intentions, we’re not always consistent with our time allocation. People with meaningful careers spend far more time at work than with their partners. People with kids spend far more time on their kids than together as a couple. To be successful at any endeavor in life, you have to prioritize it and give it some well-deserved time and attention. Which is why any dating advice that talks about how to do well with the opposite sex by being difficult, aloof, unpredictable, or intentionally challenging misses the mark. Give and ye shall receive.
3. Marriage Can Change the World
“Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, the authors of Babywise, say it this way: “A healthy marriage creates an infused stability within the family and a haven of security for a child in their development process.” They go on to sum up their years of research by saying, “In the end, great marriages produce great parents.”
I’ve read Babywise and I read the John Medina book quoted in the article as well. And I’ve seen it play out in real life as well. When kids see their parents love each other, go out socially, show affection, quickly resolve conflict, and create an environment of stability, they internalize it as normal. When kids see parents yell, slam doors, call names, give the silent treatment, and break up, they internalize it as normal. Healthy relationships produce healthy children. Healthy children are more equipped for healthy relationships of their own when they’re adults.
While this list is far from comprehensive, I thought it was a thoughtful microcosm of what marriage is really about, instead of the dream of having sex and playing house that so many people seem to think it is.
Your comment below, as always, are appreciated.