When we get married something happens to us. We start thinking about what marriage means, how we should act and what should happen next. For some the transition is easy. For others is it a bumpy descent into “this is not what I expected-ville”. For those individuals, it becomes necessary to implement an activity I call “The Questions”. This activity will assist those who are embedded in their beliefs about what should be and are unable to accept what is.
Perception and expectations
Our expectations about marriage are specifically designed by our experiences, how we feel about those experiences and the beliefs we have concluded. These experiences can include family traditions, culture, religion and personal desires. Even two people who have similar backgrounds, cultures, religion and personal desires may still have different expectations. The reason for this is perception. The way we perceive a situation is more important than the situation itself.
Perception and expectations are two of the largest barriers in marriages. If we are unable to adjust our expectations without anger or alter our perception without resentment, it is unlikely that we will be able to do the compromises that a marriage requires. Being able to identify what is a “marital issue” versus what is a “me-issue” is imperative.
Questions to ask yourself
Try this the next time you find yourself upset about an issue in your marriage. Grab a piece of paper and write down the offending situation. Be sure to be clear and concise, not too many details, just what happened. Then ask yourself a few questions:
- What about this makes me angry?- This can help you pinpoint what part exactly upsets you and why.
- Is this based on Fact or feelings?- The “why” from the previous point
- Could I be misinterpreting the information?- Might someone else have a different interpretation of the situation?
- Could this be connected to something else that I am angry about?
- Could I be exaggerating or assuming?
By answering these questions, it allows you to not only pinpoint exactly what you are angry about, it also allows you the opportunity to tease out whether it is a “me-issue” based on feelings, assumptions, and exaggerations or a “marital issue” based on facts and tangible solutions.
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