Here’s some funny piece of marriage advice for you in a reader’s digest form – try NOT to live happily ever after! Now to elaborate, although times are changing, and people are less and less traditional when it comes to their ideas of what marriage is supposed to be like, let’s face it – we all still get married secretly believing in a fairytale. We all surreptitiously expect that we will be the ones who will live in an everlasting love and passion to the ends of our lives. And you might as well do. But first, you must try not to. Here’s why.
Best intentions and why they don’t work
People get into the holy matrimony filled with hope and optimism. Most of the time. Even when they are getting married out of very rocky relationships, the moment they get themselves in front of the altar and say their I dos, they seem to get a partial amnesia. One that usually gets resolved only in a psychotherapists’ office years later, when they are both entirely worn out.
What destroys people in the marriage are usually their best intentions. Because you see, they have their dark side. Any sort of an intention does. It shapes the way we expect the world to be. And it deprives us of the capability to notice how beautiful things may be when they are not like what we wanted them to be.
That isn’t to say that endless fighting is beautiful, not at all. Or the affairs, or the resentment. But, it is possible that none of those things would have happened if we entered the marriage with an open mind and without any high expectations. In other words, if we weren’t expecting wonders to happen, they just as well might have.
If we need to be even clearer – when we have high expectations, they’re not just high expectations, they are also very specific high expectations. We know exactly how things are supposed to look like. And if they don’t, we’re miserable; while sometimes, we wouldn’t be, only if we weren’t expecting anything specific.
Let’s say a wife starts to resent her husband for not earning (contributing to the family budget, to be less blunt) as much as she would like him to. But, this is only because she was set on the idea that a man ought to earn more than a woman. Yet, if she were to forget this and just observe her life as is, she would be very happy with the fact that her husband spends so much time with her and their children, that he is well-rested and not stressed and nervous, that he’s happy with his life balance.
Paradoxical intervention and why it works
See the trick? We’re expecting so much of others that we often miss 90% of who they indeed are. We miss our lives as they are as well because we’re so set on comparing whatever’s happening to what we believe should be happening. And all that time, life goes by unnoticed. And the biggest expectation of all in marriage is that it will not fail.
Yes, you might say, is this so bad? Of course, it isn’t! But we’re on the same page here. It’s just the matter of how we approach it. So, the content of the expectation is great. The expectation itself that’s what’s wrong. When we are focused on such expectations, we start to fear the loss of our marriage. We obsess over the symptoms of this imagined failure. We search for them everywhere. We become stressed, frustrated, anxious.
In psychotherapy, there is something called a paradoxical intervention. It’s a somewhat dicey technique that requires the client to do (or try to do) the very thing that is their symptom or a problem. If they’re afraid of failure, they are instructed to fail. If they tend to put off things, they are told to set aside one hour each day when they will procrastinate.
So, if you’re afraid of your marriage failing, this is what you need to do – try to fail it. Only imagining it is enough. But try to do the things you believe will cause your marriage to fail. Are we insane, you might ask? No, here’s how it will work – the moment you, for example, start to nag your husband for being such a slack, you will realize that YOU are the one doing it. That is, it’s not a thing that has its own power over you. YOU choose to be a nag. And you can also choose not to.
If that isn’t anything for you we hear you
It’s a funny intervention, and it’s never supposed to be used if there’s a risk of hurting yourself or others. And you might if you don’t stop and see the light at the first uttered word or deed. In that case, trying your hardest to live happily ever after often also works out.