Marriage takes time, patience and effort. Even the couples that look like they have the perfect marriage, struggle at times. When you enter into marriage, you need to be prepared to work at it. Here are some common mistakes and misconceptions that couples need to avoid in order to make their marriage last.
- Your partner is responsible for making you happy: A lot of people make the mistake of expecting their partner and marriage to make them happy. This can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. Each individual must be responsible for their own happiness. It’s important to maintain your own interests, your own friends and your own “life” so to speak. Otherwise you run the risk of losing yourself and who you are in your marriage. When you are happy in your own life, this is what you bring to the marriage table and it translates into a better relationship.
- My spouse should understand me: One of the most frequent things I hear in my office from a couple is “I’m not a mind reader.” Don’t assume that your partner knows what your needs are, knows how you are feeling and/or knows what your expectations are. Communication is key in any relationship. Men and women are different in how they express themselves and what’s important to them. Expecting your spouse to “understand” where you are coming from can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Instead, it can be worthwhile to say “I don’t really understand how my partner feels or why that’s important to them, but, I want to make them happy.” Focusing on making your partner happy, instead of understanding them can help alleviate the power struggle.
- They know I appreciate them: Never assume that your spouse knows that you appreciate them. Not feeling that simple sense of “thanks” can lead to resentment and anger. When we think of appreciation, it’s a common mistake to think that it’s mostly women that need to hear verbal praise and gratitude. Men also want to feel admired and recognized. Say it, don’t just think it. People need to hear positive feedback.
- Falling into a predictable routine: Falling into a routine can stagnate a marriage and a relationship. Maintaining date nights are so important. Do different things, explore interests together and take the time to just “be” together. It’s vital to attain balance in your own individual life as well as your marriage. Don’t take your marriage for granted.
- Kids come first: While kids are a priority, it is just as important to prioritize yourself and your spouse. Children tend to feel safe and secure when their parents are happy. Ignoring your needs and your partners’ needs for the sake of your children will eventually lead to frustration and bitterness- on the part of you and your spouse. It is not healthy to live just for your children. You will find yourself a more patient and understanding parent when your life revolves around more than just your children.
Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.