We Should Stop Blaming Marriage for Our Problems

who we blame for our problems

(Image/Carl Richards – New York Times)

“I’m never getting married! Everybody who does just ends up miserable!”

Sometimes you’ll hear people call marriage a contrived social or religious construct that goes against our human “instincts” to pursue hedonism and carnal depravity.

“Monogamy is unnatural!”

You’ve heard it all before, too. The cynicism from jaded people in unhappy marriages. From those on the other side of divorce. From children of divorced parents. From those experiencing the fallout of a failed relationship within their family or social circle.

The numbers are the numbers. Divorce happens often, and even when it doesn’t, many couples are extremely unhappy.

According to Ty Tashiro, who wrote The Science of Happily Ever After, 70 percent of marriages end in divorce, or feature two people who resent the hell out of one another.

I’m calling that a 7-out-of-10, or 70% failure rate.

And while some of these people may represent the lowest common denominator of human intelligence and behavior, millions of that 70% represent the very best of us.

Good people. Kind people. Successful people. Smart people.

People who generously start up non-profits to feed the hungry, or brilliantly invent something that changes the way society functions, or just that incredibly nice and funny person you know from work or church or the neighborhood.

And when the rest of us watch these people get married, have children, and appear from the outside looking in to “have it all,” only for us to discover later that he drinks himself into stupors just to cope at home, or that she’s banging Jim in Corporate Accounting. And when we realize the Perfect Marriage we see is a façade—a David Blaine illusion—we feel the sting that comes when Life makes another surprise-withdraw from our Hope bank accounts.

You feel a little bit like an asshole when you first realize you were naïve enough to believe the Tooth Fairy flew into your bedroom in the middle of the night, took your nasty unbrushed lost tooth, and in exchange, left you some arbitrary amount of money.

And maybe we feel that same sense of loss and self-doubt creep in each time Life lands another Adulthood sucker punch, helping us realize things weren’t what they had seemed.

Bill Cosby. Jared Fogle. Tiger Woods. Corrupt and morally bankrupt politicians and religious leaders. Repeated examples from people we know personally.

And in each generation, everyone collectively thinks the world’s going to hell as they age. “Things ain’t like they used to be!”

Or. Just maybe. Things have always been this way, and it takes the hard-earned experience and wisdom of adulthood to understand that most everyone is wearing some kind of mask most of the time.

It’s too uncomfortable imagining everyone seeing the Real Us. So we hide things. A little. Or a lot.

Just maybe, things aren’t getting worse. Just maybe, people have ALWAYS been this way and now, because of the internet, 24/7 cable news and a HD camera lens on more than a billion mobile phones, we all see and hear about it constantly.

Maybe You Don’t Know What Marriage Is

I’m not trying to insult anyone. Most of us can offer a simple definition for, or explanation of, marriage that passes the sniff test.

That’s not what I mean.

You know how when you were a kid, you wanted to be a rock star, or act in movies, or play professional sports, or be a NASA astronaut, or perform at Carnegie Hall, write the Great American Novel, become President, or start your own Fortune 500 company?

Maybe you wanted to be a doctor, or lawyer, or supermodel, or architect, or police detective, or fashion designer, or ninja, or Navy SEAL, or axe-wielding firefighting hero.

But then, while 1% of people competently chased and achieved their dream, the rest of us abandoned those ideas somewhere along the way to pursue other things, or actually tried for a minute only to realize the huge effort required to succeed, and THEN we quit.

Wait. You mean to be a star actor, I need to wait tables and live with seven other people in a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles or New York, and THEN wait for someone to give me a chance? To be a doctor, I need to go to school for 10 years and take on the national debt of a small country? To be a Navy SEAL, I have to put my body through THAT, and then stare death in the face on every mission?

Maybe I’ll choose something else.

And that’s FINE. You’re not wrong or bad. You’re a person, and the only thing you can do is make choices that make sense to you in the moments you’re in. No judgment. I choose the easy way several times per day. The only difference is, now I recognize how my life occasionally suffers because of it.

But that’s not the point either.

The point is, a million people THINK they want to be musicians or lawyers or politicians or authors or badass first responders when all they know is the idea of what that profession would look like in their heads. But once they actually experience the real-life version of the journey there, they’re all like: “Wanna just get a 12-pack and play video games instead?”

It’s Because You Didn’t Know

It’s not your fault. Your heart and mind were in the right place. You can’t possibly know what you don’t know. Most of us spend our entire childhoods in the education system and none of us are ready for the real-world applications of those lessons. That’s with AN ENTIRE INFRASTRUCTURE in place to teach us shit. What is it that you ever learn about marriage?

You see people happy to get married and live Happily Ever After on TV.

You attend weddings where everyone seems to be having a great time.

But you almost NEVER see MARRIAGE. Not even at home. Your parents didn’t give you the whole truth. Mom didn’t tell you how lonely she felt because Dad worked 50-hour-weeks, fell asleep in the living-room chair most nights, and hardly ever showed sexual interest in her. Dad didn’t tell you about sexually relieving himself with Playboy magazines, or how it was easier to relax watching baseball at the local pub with the guys than being home, or how the financial pressures of having a family made him feel like he traded in all his dreams to work the rest of his life to pay for other people’s things only to likely die 10 years sooner than his statistical life expectancy.

Everybody wears the masks. They do it to protect us. To “save” children from the challenges of Real Life, only to accidentally fail to prepare us for those very challenges.

They don’t deserve blame either.

Because they grew up the same way.

And so did our grandparents.

Ancestral sheltering. Performed with the best of intentions. But ultimately contributing to us understanding marriage about as well as we did the realities of being promoted to police detective, or the highly advanced mathematics required to launch space rockets.

“Hey, Matt! Are you EVER going to make a point?”

Yes.

Marriage Doesn’t Suck. We Suck.

Like being accepted to the NASA astronaut program, or becoming a gold-medal Olympian, or passing the bar exam, most of us don’t have ANY idea what marriage requires of us in order to be successful.

Marriage is hard.

Marriage requires intense vigilance mentally and emotionally. We need to be ON, mentally. Even when we’re tired and “don’t feel like it.” And we need to be ON, emotionally. The personal discipline required to be mindful of another person’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in order to contribute positively to it and not ruin their lives (and often our own in the process) is intense.

People get married and see what it’s REALLY like, and decide maybe they’d rather get a 12-pack and play more video games.

People are unwilling to give what’s needed to succeed in marriage, just like they’re unwilling to train every day for the Olympics, or practice playing an instrument enough to master it.

We love the idea of marriage. We see everyone around us getting married. It’s hard to believe anything other than: Getting married is what comes next after getting a job!

But then the divorced people tell you how horrible it is.

Cynical people tell you how frequently it fails.

Hedonists tell you how limiting it can be.

“Don’t do it!” we hear.

“Marriage is dumb. I’m not doing it!” we say.

As if staying forever-single somehow brings a magical sense of fulfillment and contentment in life.

As if having children as single parents is somehow the universally preferred and most-effective way of raising them.

As if hard things which people work tirelessly to achieve should magically become easy things. So C+ math students can design space shuttle flight plans, and people who don’t work out can be paid millions to play sports, and people can be given medical licenses after a couple semesters of community college.

We choose the easy way. We choose comfort over discomfort. We do it ALL THE TIME.

And it’s okay.

But for the same reasons you don’t REALLY want to put in the work required to open your own European pastry shop, or get elected to Congress, or lose 40 pounds, maybe you don’t REALLY want to put in the work a marriage requires.

You’ll receive no judgment or shaming from me.

But I’ll really appreciate it if you’ll kindly stop blaming marriage for sucking as if it’s the institution’s fault you or your friends aren’t any good at it.

Our marriages don’t fail because marriage is inherently flawed. Our marriages fail because WE are inherently flawed.

And being inherently flawed is precisely why most of us need a hand to hold during Life’s hairiest, shit-hitting-fan moments.

The rewards of career success on our respective journeys are great.

The rewards of relationship success are equally so.

But with marriage, most of us begin our mountain climbs not knowing how high we’re going, and lack the proper equipment to get there.

It seems silly to blame the mountain when we fall.

Marriage is rewarding and beautiful when we make it so.

It’s something else when we don’t.

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61 thoughts on “We Should Stop Blaming Marriage for Our Problems

  1. Funny, I had a tangentially similar conversation with my therapist just this morning about how popular culture espouses the idea of falling in love with that one person who will make you complete — your other half — and then doesn’t tell you how and how much work it is to keep the relationship intact. Now, there’s a story I would read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How much work? YES!

      Marriage takes a ton of work when there aren’t major problems, but when there are… (and, unfortunately, much of the time the latter is true.)

      But problems or not, most people aren’t prepared. It should be a required course throughout High School–like PhysEd for relational intelligence.

      My husband and I work with couples recovering from betrayals, and the #1 thing they wish they’d have known before they started healing is, “We wish we would have known how much work it was going to take.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. shannon says:

    Good blog, Matt. I have said this before, but I often think being married successfully would benefit from using the same frame as being employed successfully. Be on time, call when you can’t be but make it seldom, do what you said you would do with a good attitude, be a team player, do your share plus more , because there will be times when somebody else has to pick up your slack, and figure out options when projects don’t go as planned.

    What wives complain about boils down to this; the husband thinks chores are optional and unnecessary, so when he picks up his he thinks he is doing the wife a favor; the husband doesn’t pay attention to how much his wife works, emotionally, mentally or physically, to keep the household together, he just bitches that she “nags”; the framework of the household is mostly her responsibility to organize and delegate, so her mental time is much more pronounced, setting up the perfect scenario for her to “tell” him what to do so he can resent her, not realizing he has been taking the easy, uninvolved way out; he takes his time getting anything done, while she is always on a time clock that goes like this “if I can just get all this done I will have a moment to myself”. It could work the other way around, of course, but it tends to be a role. Whoever is the responsible one always is hindered by having a “baby”, something that corners her, or him. The person who is much less responsible in home life would not, usually, considered a co-worker who acted the same as a good person, but excuses him (or her) self in home life. Most of the problems, like the glass in the sink, are little problems. The little problems become a huge mountain of tons of little problems, with one saying how dumb to sweat the small stuff, and the other putting time and energy into picking up all the small pieces. The frustration that it could be so easily solved then exacerbates the anger that it is not solved. And the irresponsible one really did not intend for things to be this way. Again, think job. The person who is always late or doesn’t do the part of the project didn’t intend to drop the ball, either, in his/her mind, but still, eventually, gets fired.

    A friend just got divorced after 20 years together, then 4 years of marriage. They are still friends and still love each other. He is lonely and depressed. She is relieved and serene.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Just me says:

      Boy does this ring true for me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      “The person who is much less responsible in home life would not, usually, considered a co-worker who acted the same as a good person, but excuses him (or her) self in home life”

      Yeah, I just can’t fully agree with the good person framing that Matt and others often use. I don’t mean that a person somehow has lost their fundamental human worth, that they’re evil worthless scum or anything like that. We all have our selfish parts and failings, if I were to be judged by my worst times and qualities, I’d be in trouble.

      But if you, because of laziness, inability to believe your spouse has a point, wilfull blindness or whatever else, leave the person you’re supposed to love exhausted and overburdened because you don’t do your fair share, so they have to do their fair share (which, remember, was too much for you in and of itself) *and* whatever you didn’t do? But you’re perfectly able to do your fair share at your job and would find it disrespectful and selfish if someone behaved like you do at home at work? Are you really being a good person?

      I’ve used this example before. If you have two kids, and they’re both supposed to do the same chores? Do you think you’re being a good person if one of your children didn’t do their fair share and you left it to your other child to do both their own part and the part your first child didn’t do?

      (Granted, people have legitimate differences for how organized and neat they wish their home lives to be)

      Liked by 1 person

    • julie1776 says:

      Shannon, I think what you wrote nailed it. If each partner made the same quantity, the same quality and same consistency into their marriage that he/she would if working his/her dream job for great money & perqs, far fewer marriages would end in divorce.

      Let’s say you wanted to be a nurse, and you landed a job at a facility with a great reputation. for the wages and benefits you hoped for, in the specialty you REALLY hoped for. Answer the following questions:
      1) How often are you late for work?
      2) How often you you call out (assuming there’s no real family or other urgent issue)?
      3) How do you appear for work (hair, make-up, etc.)?
      4) How do you dress for work? (If you buy your own scrubs, are they always neat and clean and pressed, no stains or holes?) Is your foot wear attractive and appropriate?
      5) How do you perform your job? Do you put in 150% or do the absolute minimum? Do you offer to help co-workers or chill in the break room while they struggle?
      6) Do you try to get out the door as soon as legally permissible or make sure the nurse coming on-shift knows all you can tell her and you made sure that she had adequate supplies for a patient’s needs?

      Now ask yourself: do I make this same effort for my marriage? Am I a “minimalist” at home because I’m not paid? Do I (usually) try to look as good for my mate as I do for my job? Do I make sure my mate isn’t struggling with his/her load while I’m taking it easy? And all the rest.

      We all know spouses who feel they should be able to “let down their hair” at home. Well sure – but not every minute that you’re not at work. Maybe you don’t put on the same amount of make-up or wear a shirt & tie every hour that you’re home. But is it your FEELING that you’re ENTITLED NOT to make the same effort? After almost 36 years of marriage, my husband sometimes asks why I’m putting on all my make-up etc. And I tell him that it’s because I think he deserves it, and because I feel better about myself if I look better. Some days he asks if I mind that he not shave for a day because of a rash. He doesn’t need my permission; he knows I don’t mind. It’s a courtesy to make a formal statement that how he looks for me is as important as anywhere else.

      We need to make it clear to our mates that the way we look, work (around the house) and share tasks is the norm, and taking a break to kick it for the day in shorts and flip-flops is the exception. Otherwise, we made the statement that our jobs are INFINITELY more important than our mates.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. WiserNow says:

    And the ones who are really good at it (marriage, sports, football, music, etc) make it look easy and we believe that it should be easy for us. They may have put in the 10,000 hours plus that we did not. What makes us think we should be good at marriage? Especially if your parents did not have a good marriage and that’s where you learned 90% plus of what you know – emotionally anyway. We can all talk a good game about what makes a good marriage but few of us walk the walk.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great read, being married is hard and does take constant vigilance, I can attest to that. Mine went south, but hopefully I saved it before it hit the bottom. I took things for granted and went into that coast mode. I have really enjoyed reading your take on all this and it has helped me make sure I watch myself and hopefully I can say in the end I made it all the way through. Thanks again for putting yourself out there for all of us.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Matt says:

      I really appreciate you taking the time to write this note. Thank you.

      It’s validation for the time investment, and the only thing that matters. That somewhere out there, people care enough to use it in some small way to serve their relationships/families/etc.

      I think the reality is pretty straightforward.

      1. Pretty much all of us will pair up somewhere along the way. It’s just what humans do.

      2. When our relationships are healthy and stable, we feel happy and have great life satisfaction, instead of stressing out and hating it because nothing but poor health affects us as profoundly as the quality of our relationships do.

      3. Relationships are NEVER healthy and stable without effort. It’s the lack of awareness of what’s actually required, combined with avoidance of the “work” involved that ultimately causes all the relationship problems and breakage.

      4. Thus, we should figure out all of the little things needed to make them healthy and successful, and then commit to doing those things the same as we would saving for retirement, or working out, or learning a new subject or skill.

      The alternative is to bounce in and out of unhealthy relationships for the rest of our lives until we’re too old, jaded and unhealthy to get it right.

      I really think it’s that simple. If someone is truly happier single, more power to them. But I think most people who say that aren’t telling the whole truth, or are just scared to fail again.

      For the vast majority who are already in, or open to, or actively pursuing relationships, it would seem coming to terms with this is an important step in the process.

      Most people build wealth slowly. Most people achieve great health through disciplined lifestyle and diet choices. Most people find success at work or in hobbies by putting in the 10,000 or whatever hours to be awesome at it.

      It’s funny then, that everyone thinks marriage is supposed to provide us effort-free rewards.

      But that’s what we all seem to think when we’re young.

      It’s such a painful thing to be wrong about, it seems worthwhile to have the conversation with as many people as possible.

      So, again. Thank you.

      Your note and efforts matter a great deal.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Louis says:

    Matt
    I posted this in the comments section of Shitty Husband #9 …it seems better left here
    I have been married to the love of my life for 33 years …have we had any Missouri boat rides? Yes..have we ever been near or at the divorce crossroads?yes!…it almost happened 25 years ago for a variety of reasons but thankfully we were able to settle the issues and make nice nice….do those issues resurface? Yes!…but we remember where we were 25 years ago and retreat to what we found was the most important thing about us that kept us together and applied same….what I would like to offer is a simple story that came to me as a revaluation when we separated 25 years ago and was sleeping in my car not wanting to run home to mommy…. in my neighborhood growing up in the 60s and 70s there was an older gentleman that had a beautiful tutone 1958 Cadillac…..every morning at precisely 8am he would come out of his house behind my childhood home,dressed impeccably , get in his Cadillac drive around the corner to the neighborhood mom and pop store drive back park bring his newspaper in the house come back out dressed in overalls then proceed to wash and wax his Cadillac….he did this everyday that I can recall…….he passed away in 1977 the year I graduated from high school……I just saw the Cadillac a week ago or so it was still immaculate…his care for that Cadillac made it endure its luster for 58 years and I’m sure will last longer……..that story occurred to me while I slept in the ” Hotel Pontiac” that the key to keeping anything worthwhile to you is deserving of your daily care….marriage is no different .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Doing my best 🙏 says:

    Wow. Just wow. You could be my new best friend. Nailed it with this one !!
    I am focussing on doing the work instead of resenting my partner. Some days it is really hard and I suck at it too. Those are the days it’s easier to be compassionate to him. Because he and I struggle to have these conversations because of his shame stuff (and I avoid to avoid hurting him – my misguided compassion stuff) we just continue up and down and confuse our kids. This one I think I can finally share with him – it IS hard and there are days when we both suck at it but we have to CHOOSE to want to get better at it EVERY DAY.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Matt says:

      Nobody WANTS to work hard. In every given moment, choosing hard work seems less appealing than an easy or pleasurable activity.

      Which is why saving money to build wealth, diet & exercise, mastering a professional skill, etc. are such good analogies to me.

      ALL of those things suck in the moment.

      Spending money feels better in a pleasure-way than saving. Sleeping in often feels better than getting out of bed to work out. Brownies and ice cream taste better than raw vegetables. And playing is more fun than studying or practicing work skills.

      HOWEVER. In almost every case, when a human being commits to these things, their quality of life and general level of contentment/happiness increases across the board. Why?

      Financial peace, great health and physical condition, and being intelligent and/or really good at something makes us happy.

      We don’t lose sleep. We look and feel good. We succeed in our daily pursuits.

      So.

      By choosing hard things, Life becomes awesome. Life feels good. Better. EASIER.

      Because we choose the hard paths and are conditioned for obstacles, life opportunity opens up for us.

      The trickle-down effects of those things should be obvious to anyone in relationships.

      One might say the kind of people who succeed at those hard things almost can’t help but succeed in relationships.

      But more to the point, EVERYWHERE we look, Life teaches us that the path to sustainable good things is the long, difficult, high-effort way.

      It should surprise no one when choosing the easy way all the time catches up and causes us misery.

      The chickens, as they say, always come home to roost.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Absolutely love this! We didn’t know what being married entailed 21 years ago.

    All we knew was what we came from…his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic who beat up on his mom when he was drunk (quite frequently) and gambled away their money trying to get rich quick. He pretty much thought & still thinks to this day that he is entitled to living “the good life”…he just doesn’t want to work for anything.

    My family was not much better. Arguments escalated into literal knockdown drag outs with black eyes & broken noses, shattered glass & broken furniture. When I was old enough, I used to “play referee”. I’d sit for hours at a time listening to their arguments thinking that when the fights started, I could intervene & stop them. I’m pretty sure that there were at least 5 divorces filed during their 26 year marriage which didn’t end until I was grown & married myself.

    When my husband & I decided to get married, we discussed our backgrounds & the things we witnessed growing up. We talked about our future children & how we wanted them to have the stability we never had. We didn’t want them going to bed hungry because dad spent all of our money on booze & gambling. We didn’t want them seeing battered faces because we couldn’t control our tempers & started swinging fists. And while the word “divorce” isn’t probably a word that you & your future spouse want to talk about when you’re planning on getting married, we both agreed that we wouldn’t throw that word out there just because we were pissed off. Even 21 years after-the-fact, I remember my exact words “Please, do not ever threaten me with divorce unless you intend to follow through with it.”

    Our divorce will be final sometime next month. No, our children never went to bed hungry because we failed to provide for them. No, not once did we ever strike one another in the heat of an argument. But, not once, not twice, but three times during our marriage, he’s told me he wants a divorce. Each time there was another woman involved (well, twice with the same woman) and each time the crack in the foundation of our marriage got bigger & bigger.

    I know where I failed & I claim it. It’s been spoken of all throughout this blog. I’m sure all of my asking & pleading for help turned into nagging & bitching. I needed him to listen to me, to help me with the babies or to help me with a thing or two around the house while I tended to the babies, I needed help with managing schedules & bills & all of those little things that chipped away from my time & left me exhausted at the end of the day after working a full time job. I needed to feel like I was a priority in his life. He was content with going to work & then hanging out, drinking beer with his buddies, coming home to a hot meal, taking a shower, getting laid & then going to bed all to start it over again the next day. At first, I was too tired for sex. Then I became resentful of being taken for granted & just didn’t want to anymore, but would because I was afraid of him getting it elsewhere. Then he’d become involved with someone else anyways & want a divorce. Twice we got past that, but then I really didn’t want to be intimate with him anymore because I didn’t trust him. This last time, I’m giving him the divorce because I cannot do this anymore.

    I am not claiming perfection, but I believe wholeheartedly that I put more work & effort into our marriage than he did. He chose other people & other things over his family because they didn’t expect anything out of him. No work required.

    According to social media, he’s “blissfully happy” and is enjoying life. He brags about how his children mean the world to him & they are his biggest accomplishments. Little does he know, his “precious baby girl” as he calls her (she’s 15) doesn’t want to spend time with him anymore. When they’re together, according to her, conversations are awkward if anything at all. They turn on the tv & he’s either on the phone or falls asleep. He’s not putting any work into their relationship either. She says she tries to talk to him, but he gets angry & tells her that the divorce is between me & him & it’s none of her business. She’s old enough & wants answers from him & he’s not giving them. It’s hard holding her while she sobs at night knowing there’s nothing I can do. But he is oblivious to all of it because his time & effort is being invested in the things that are making him “blissfully happy”.

    Sorry to vent. My point is that if he had invested more work into his family than what he did, things could’ve been different for us & our children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Magpie says:

      My ex and I had also come from difficult childhoods and discussed how it shaped us. The positive and the negative and what we’d never do to each other and to our children. We had four years prior to marriage where we discussed and planned how we would avoid the pitfalls of our parents. I thought we had enough in common to succeed. We were married four before separating and almost another year for the divorce to be final. Turns out we didn’t share as much as I’d thought and I’d been lied to about his goals, dreams and his understanding of the hard work that was required to be a partner, adult, parent and home owner. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Magpie says:

    This-> “Marriage requires intense vigilance mentally and emotionally. We need to be ON, mentally. Even when we’re tired and “don’t feel like it.” And we need to be ON, emotionally. The personal discipline required to be mindful of another person’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in order to contribute positively to it and not ruin their lives (and often our own in the process) is intense.” This is where the rubber meets the road, the do or die. This. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Kristina says:

    You never run out of words Matt. I really, really, REALLY adore you’re ability to take a point and explain it multiple different ways, for many different audiences, all in one post. I think I was literally shaking my head and saying “yes! Exactly!” Every sentence I read. Couldn’t agree more. Reposting 💚
    ~Kristina (formerly Ideaphilosopher)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. LittleBoPeep12 says:

    I have written elsewhere about human nature and not wanting to do the hard work required to BE married, not just BE IN a marriage. This is brilliant, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. linds01 says:

    Matt said, and Magpie agreed “Marriage requires intense vigilance mentally and emotionally. We need to be ON, mentally. Even when we’re tired and “don’t feel like it.” And we need to be ON, emotionally. The personal discipline required to be mindful of another person’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in order to contribute positively to it and not ruin their lives (and often our own in the process) is intense”

    I have no idea what it is really like to be in a marriage, so this may mean absolutely nothing , but reading the above quote sounds exhausting! It sounds like a soldier in the foxhole in a war. ..
    Would I be reading “and we need to be ON, mentally…and ON emotionally” correctly if I said “we need to be on …all the time?”

    Either way, I don’t think anyone can be expected to be required to be on their “a” game all the time. That just isn’t human. And, I don’t think it would be a healthy way to live.

    I don’t disagree that a lot of work and effort need to go into the relationship. But, I wonder if when and where we put the effort isn’t just as important as how much effort one puts in.

    I read this in an article recently by Heather Gray (If that is her real name…? :) …

    “Successful couples value and work for a loving, respectful, and intimate relationship climate . They work to take care of one another’s needs, to be respectful of their feelings, and all of the things that we’re told repeatedly go into building healthy relationships. This is the climate they seek and work for in their relationship.Yet, being in it for the long haul, successful couples know that at any point in time, one or both of them, is bound to lose their shit. If they’re going to stay together, one or both is going to be called upon to forgive something that no one else would. Things are going to be said and done completely inappropriately, from a place of emotion, skewed perspective, irrationality, and drama.
    Successful and lasting couples take these events in stride, though, because that isn’t the climate of their relationship, just a storm that’s passing through.”

    Does “creating the climate” of good relationship – being aware of and caring for one another’s needs, respecting feelings, ect.- Is that the sort of work and effort that comes to mind?

    My opinion is that is what it SHOULD be…sort of like an ounce of prevention…
    I know this has been said before, but I think one of the main things that derails us is in our inability to know how to have relationships.

    It has alot to do with the fact that we fall in love with all the ooey gooey feelings.

    The relationship is still really all about us, even if we are so adoring of this other person.
    What everyone falls for is the emotion the other person sparks in you. (Which isn’t wrong at all!!…it’s just that THAT isn’t where it ends, or what will make the relationship last, even after the ooey gooey feelings.)

    We don’t know how to exercise care for one another on a daily basis- just as a way to treat one another.
    That is just not something our society does very well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • linds01 says:

      Sorry if that sounded insensitive at all. I just hate to always hear about how hard it is, and how it’s such a drudgery.

      I know it can be crappy at times.
      Life is crappy at times- and like it’s been pointed out, the marriage relationship, family- that stuff is supposed to be there as a canopy and shelter.

      It’s where people grow, and learn about the world. It’s (supposed) to be the place you are known and (mostly) understood, and “loved anyway”.

      While the marriage relationship certainly needs time and attention and intentional effort, (absolutely!)

      I hate to think of people getting in the mindset that it needs to be teeth gritting, white knuckling sort of effort and work.

      Sometimes work can be enjoyable, right? And, certainly its always easier if you start at the outset with knowing how to love, which is not often the case.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Still trying hard says:

        I think what happens is when we neglect “shovelling the coal” for too long or at the really necessary times it does become a white knuckle effortful venture. There’s room to pull back and be focussed on self when your partner has faith that it’s intermittent and you’ll be right back – when they really need you and even when they don’t.
        Being able to hear that your partner is lonely and afraid should be okay – as long as you can see that it’s about them and not make it about you and just connect and let them know you’re there for them.
        Being humoured sucks.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wifey says:

      linds, connected couples in healthy relationships do not need to be “on” ALL the time. There can be lapses and because they are connected, it’s not a huge deal and they can repair what happened later. The problem arises when couples are NOT connected and generally getting their needs met. It’s not about always avoiding conflict by being “on your game” all the time. It’s more important how couples repair from conflict. But when people are in distress and damage is done over time by one or both people neglecting the needs of the other (however unintentional it might be), then you get a nasty situation where lapses become a HUGE deal.

      Liked by 2 people

      • linds01 says:

        Wifey, thank you for your response.
        What you wrote here is what I would generally believe to be true.
        The being intentional about the connection is where the work needs to go. – I mean- that sort of IS the relationships, in a lot of ways.
        When that is strong everything is better.

        Like

    • OKRickety says:

      “I have no idea what it is really like to be in a marriage, so this may mean absolutely nothing , but reading the above quote sounds exhausting! It sounds like a soldier in the foxhole in a war. ..
      […]
      Either way, I don’t think anyone can be expected to be required to be on their “a” game all the time. That just isn’t human. And, I don’t think it would be a healthy way to live.

      I don’t disagree that a lot of work and effort need to go into the relationship. But, I wonder if when and where we put the effort isn’t just as important as how much effort one puts in.”

      Matt writes in line with what I consider to be typical of the expectations for marriage today. The bar is so high that it may be impossible. Author Terry Real certainly agrees that women’s expectations for marriage have increased significantly over the last 50 years or so. I have often said that the expectations of Christian women for marriage today are so great that I have my doubts that Jesus Himself would be able to meet them.

      Even if it is possible for men to change to meet the expectations of women for marriage, it is likely that it will take time for men to learn to do this. In real life, the behavioral change of men will take longer than it has taken for women’s expectations to make the quantum leap to their current state. It would seem likely that both marriage as an institution and individual marriages will suffer or die as long as the gap between women’s expectations and men’s behaviors remains large.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marilyn sims says:

        “The bar is so high that it may be impossible. Author Terry Real certainly agrees that women’s expectations for marriage have increased significantly over the last 50 years or so.”

        I would agree 100% that women’s new expectations are entirely unrealistic for the majority of men. Yet I cannot absolve men of the responsibility for at least trying to understand what women are asking and not dismissing their legitimate concerns as meaningless complaint.

        Liked by 1 person

        • OKRickety says:

          It is reasonable to expect men to work toward meeting the “legitimate concerns” of their wives. And the converse is also true.

          If Terry Real is correct, then I am especially uneasy that women’s increased expectations may be unreasonable. Who decides if the expectations are “legitimate concerns”? In other words, are these reasonable expectations? Both sexes commonly discount the perspective of the other.

          Liked by 1 person

          • marilyn sims says:

            You said, “Who decides if the expectations are ‘legitimate concerns?’ In other words, are these reasonable expectations. Both sexes commonly discount the perspective of the other.”

            Yes, unfortunately, the discounting and dismissal does go both ways.Terry Real describes what is an all too often dialogue between couples — the wife says, “no matter what I say, he won’t listen.”; the husband replies, “no matter what I do, she won’t be satisfied.”

            According to Real, this is a battle that neither side can win without therapeutic intervention.

            ” Women need help establishing a space in which their truth is voiced openly and not met with reprisals. And men need help holding fast, without recourse to the age-old responses of discounting, retaliating or running away.”

            I realize that this scenario does not answer the question of who gets to decide — the problem goes much deeper and is not subject to easy answers. I think the title of Terry Real’s book offers insight, “How Can I get Through To You?”(Reconnecting Men and Women)

            Liked by 1 person

            • OKRickety says:

              I failed to follow the practice I advise, and lost the comment I had written in response. :(

              I have that book and reread it quite recently. It seems to me that it would be possible to look at marriage problems today and say “The problem is that women’s expectations are unrealistic” rather than “The problem is that men are not meeting women’s expectations”. Who gets to make the decision that these expectations are reasonable or not? It seems that the decision has already been made and women’s expectations are considered to be reasonable.

              In light of the current perspective on marriage, I perceive marriage to almost certainly be ill-advised for all men, and only slightly better odds for women, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

              Liked by 1 person

              • marilyn sims says:

                “In light of the current perspective on marriage, I perceive marriage to almost
                certainly to be ill-advised for all men, and only slightly better odds for women, albeit for different reasons.” You say that this is your conclusion after reading the book.

                Not surprisingly I have a different perspective on what Terry Real says is the major problem that prevents men and women from forming long lasting and happy marriages and what he believes to be the solution. It is not solely the unrealistic expectations of women, nor the failure of men to live up to them that causes widespread marital discord.

                He, without hesitation or qualification blames the FRAMEWORK, i.e. PATRIARCHY
                for the acrimony that plagues the modern day marriage. Remember, he does not fault either gender for shortcomings or disabilities when it comes to marriage failure. Chapter 4, titled “Psychological Patriarchy: The Dance of Contempt” clearly
                outlines the three concentric rings surrounding us as individuals that prevents us from becoming psychologically whole human beings. That along with his assertion that “patriarchy’s idealized model of love is impossibly flawed” leaves no doubt that we are destined to face insurmountable odds unless we choose a completely different context in which to practice the principles love.

                Liked by 1 person

                • OKRickety says:

                  I’m not certain if Terry Real ever lays out an alternative framework to psychological patriarchy. If he does, he never names it.

                  Perhaps this is semantics (although it reminds me of our previous discussion of responsibility, fault, and blame), but I think Terry Real does fault the sexes but does not blame them. Quite specifically, he postulates that women’s expectations for marriage have increased greatly in the last 50 years, and men have not made the changes needed to meet those expectations. I don’t think psychological patriarchy has changed in that time. If it hasn’t, then it is the behavior of the sexes that has changed.

                  The problem is that the psychological patriarchy makes it very difficult for marriages to respond healthily to these recent changes/”not changes” by the sexes. I don’t expect the psychological patriarchy will ever go away. If true, then the options are for women to lower their expectations or for men to achieve those expectations. I think the former is much easier to achieve. You may think that the following is unfair, but I am going to take Terry Real’s approach to the question of “Who is right?” which he replaces with “What does it matter?”. He says that more than who’s right, what matters is that your partner is uncomfortable and wants your help. You have the right to deny the request and deal with the consequences, or honor the request. In other words, is marriage more important than men meeting women’s increased expectations? It’s worth keeping in mind that unreasonable expectations are premeditated resentments.

                  Perhaps that is unfair, but the current situation is not working well. If the increased expectations are deemed to be essential by women, then many marriages will fail. And, since men are not completely stupid, they may recognize the situation and decide that they don’t wish to get married because they consider it to be a risky situation. If that happens, then it will be detrimental to society. More importantly to the sexes, there will be fewer marriages. I think this will be disappointing to far more women than men.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • marilyn sims says:

                    Admittedly Real does not “name’ the alternative to psychological patriarchy, he does, however, use a significant part of the his book, beginning with Chapter 9, “A New Model of Love” and ending with Chapter 17, “What It Takes To Love” to describe the path and processes needed to recover from its effects.

                    Beginning with the 5 Core Self Skills moving through to 5 Relational Skills, Real emphasizes over and over that these are the antidote – the process of recovery- from the toxic effects of psychological patriarchy. He describes how to move from a paradigm wherein each partner seeks control of the marriage to one in which personal responsibility, maturity and growth guide the decision-making and behavior of each partner. I would say his approach is not directly confrontational, yet more effective in facilitating REPAIR of broken relationships and helping struggling partners identify behaviors that sabotage their attempts to love well. In fact he calls the process RELATIONAL RECOVERY and does not underestimate the difficulties therein nor provide a template couples can use to evaluate their progress.

                    Again, I realize that this offering does not directly address the issue of women’s expectations, nor does it address the unfairness inherent in expecting men to live up to them. I do think Real’s method provides a type of” end-run” around both issues which (to me) is effective, empathetic and successful in the long run.

                    Real has a more recent book about marriage in the 21st century which I think gives more practical advice (I cannot remember the title) to couples seeking help.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • OKRickety says:

                      Perhaps Real’s methods are effective. Unfortunately, I think most couples will never find or be able to afford this type of help. Considering the thought that his approach is “relational recovery”, not how to avoid these problems in the first place, I continue to believe that it would be better to never marry and absolutely avoid these problems, than to marry and then, for the majority, have to try to work through the problems. I think this is especially true for men, and it may well also be true for most women (remember, most men are not unhappy with their marriage, but many wives certainly are unhappy). This may well be taking the easy way out, but perhaps it is the wisest decision.

                      Liked by 1 person

      • linds01 says:

        Rickety,
        I kind of agree with where Marilyn was going with her comment.
        The expectations have changed because the roles have changed. Women are no longer just working in the home is one big difference. We need men to step up and help out in domestic areas because we work, too and it isn’t right to have one person carry 3/4ths of the burden.
        I’m not exactly sure what other expectations there are.
        I do see that as women who work full time, frequently care for the house and are the default person to care for the children may begin to question why they are married, especially when the man isn’t attentive to the relationship.
        The husband becomes just another mouth to feed.
        I think this has tons to do with women asserting themselves more in the public arena as opposed to only the domestic one.
        And I don’t like what it has done to families and men, either.
        But, I don’t think the answer is for women to return to a subordinate position.
        I believe women have asserted themselves and developed new skills. The next step to regain equilibrium is for men to learn new skills as well.
        I cant speak for all women, and it may be that there are a lot of unrealistic expectations. I think there are many expectations set in regards to what love, marriage and family is supposed to look like or feel like and people can become very demanding of their partner when it doesn’t look or feel that way. I blame this a tiny bit on affluence. Many people are so used to just getting what they want in a material sense, they don’t know how to deal with emotional disappointment that really is nobodies fault…I think it’s a lack of maturity.
        I also know some women AND men who are very image driven, so the expectation to be perfect, excel at everything and look great doing it is a super high pressure they put on themselves and on their spouse, too.
        There are all sorts of those things, but I dont think that is anything new.
        Expectations for a man to both be strong and sensitive?
        I know what I really want is just someone to be themselves.
        I want them to feel emotion, so we can share that part of life together .
        I do think it will take time for men to step up. And it really and truly isn’t a gender issue. It’s not that I want men to fit a certain role- I want men to be fully themselves. Part of the male role up until about 40 or 50 years ago was being the provider and protector. That meant cutting off emotions a lot of the time. Mens role models did not cry.
        They were reserved and cool, they couldn’t show fear. This may have seemed necessary at one point in time, but that sort of shutting off of emotions caused a lot more damage to individuals and generations after them than what facing that emotion, and sharing it with those who were around him would have cost.
        A lot of the current problems in marriage are related to men retreating from their wives and families when they have shame or are dealing with a problem they think they have to deal with on their own. They do this , I believe, because they think they have to be strong and protect, ect. And sometimes its about being afraid of losing respect.
        There shouldn’t just be one guard posted to protect the family. That should be a job shared by the spouses, and they cant do that effectively unless they are truly together – unless they know what their partner is struggling with, unless they know the other has their back. And you cant be together , you cant know how to help or what hurts unless there is real communication.
        Men could receive a heck of a lot more support from their families if they opened up and shared with them.

        What other sort of increased expectations do you see women having for men?

        Liked by 1 person

        • OKRickety says:

          “Women are no longer just working in the home is one big difference. We need men to step up and help out in domestic areas because we work, too and it isn’t right to have one person carry 3/4ths of the burden.”

          While it is true that many wives work full-time outside the home, I wonder how necessary that is, and what would result if this were not the case. I realize this is not going to happen, but would women need to work if we were satisfied with less? Do we need bigger houses, expensive vacations, etc. to be happy, or can we be content with less?

          “I believe women have asserted themselves and developed new skills. The next step to regain equilibrium is for men to learn new skills as well.”

          That’s one way to look at the situation. On the other hand, are these new skills really important to the life of the individual, their marriage, and society?

          “I think it’s a lack of maturity.”

          I absolutely agree. I think the biggest problem in marriage today is the lack of commitment, likely resulting from selfishness, that is, the desire for individual happiness.

          “I want them to feel emotion, so we can share that part of life together .”
          […]
          “Men could receive a heck of a lot more support from their families if they opened up and shared with them.”

          I’m quite certain that all men feel emotion, but they may not share it. I have found that expressing my emotion was often not received well, and certainly not shared. That quickly dampens most men’s willingness to share their emotions.

          Like

          • linds01 says:

            Rickety, you asked: “While it is true that many wives work full-time outside the home, I wonder how necessary that is, and what would result if this were not the case. I realize this is not going to happen, but would women need to work if we were satisfied with less? Do we need bigger houses, expensive vacations, etc. to be happy, or can we be content with less?” As well as
            “That’s one way to look at the situation. On the other hand, are these new skills really important to the life of the individual, their marriage, and society?”
            My answer to these two are really one in the same, let me see if I can answer it in the 10 minutes I have :)…
            Work is more essential than just money. Ideally we would all be employed in the things that exercised our natural gifts and abilities.
            Women stretched themselves and found channels to express who they always were- some of this was through work. They expressed parts of themselves they were formally not allowed to express. That doesn’t mean those parts of themselves didn’t exist. THOSE are the skills that I’m talking about. Does society need, or will society benefit from men learning new skills- YES! Our brains Nd our bodies where built to grow when we are met with resistance and change. I would go so far as to say that it is God’s desire that we learn and grow and become- both individually and as a society.
            That is my abbreviated answer.
            What you said about the reception when you shared your emotions- I am sorry that happened. That may even be the norm, but I am hoping we come closer to a society that doesn’t gender stereotype the human condition. We have to start there.

            Liked by 1 person

            • OKRickety says:

              “Work is more essential than just money. Ideally we would all be employed in the things that exercised our natural gifts and abilities.”

              Unfortunately, I don’t think many people are fortunate enough to be doing what they would be best at doing. I suspect the world would be a far better place if people had this opportunity.

              “I would go so far as to say that it is God’s desire that we learn and grow and become- both individually and as a society.”

              Perhaps you could expand on this belief sometime. I think it is best if we do learn and grow, but I’m not so certain how this is God’s desire.

              Like

              • linds01 says:

                Rickety,
                If you believe in a God, and that he had something to do with the design of ourselves and our world, the fact that is how we are made is an indication that is part of our purpose, and function…so, it is something that he would desire us to do.

                I am still waiting to hear about what expectations you feel women have.

                Rickety- in your statement to Marilyn you said ” It seems to me that it would be possible to look at marriage problems today and say “The problem is that women’s expectations are unrealistic” rather than “The problem is that men are not meeting women’s expectations”. Who gets to make the decision that these expectations are reasonable or not? It seems that the decision has already been made and women’s expectations are considered to be reasonable.

                In light of the current perspective on marriage, I perceive marriage to almost certainly be ill-advised for all men, and only slightly better odds for women, albeit for somewhat different reasons.”

                I have to say this sounds very depressing.

                It is really easy to look at the current issues around men and women and try to figure out who is to blame. (A really great definition for blame is the dischariging of discomfort and pain).
                We don’t like how things are so we want to blame- is it the guys fault or is it the girls fault?

                I don’t think there is one gender to blame, nor is it one genders responsibility to change, neither is there one solution to “fix” it..

                The best thing we can do is is love those closest to us the best we can by doing the best things we can do for them that is within our power to do.

                Sometimes that means stretching ourselves to meet someone elses needs.

                And everyone is different on how much and what kind of stretching they are willing to do.

                For both genders.

                Liked by 1 person

                • OKRickety says:

                  “If you believe in a God, and that he had something to do with the design of ourselves and our world, the fact that is how we are made is an indication that is part of our purpose, and function…so, it is something that he would desire us to do.”

                  Since God made us with a carnal nature, the desires of the flesh are very often in direct opposition to what God desires us to do. If God wants us to become better people, then we have to choose to fight against our natural, selfish desires. That is how God made us. Isn’t it possible that what we think is an improvement is actually negative?

                  “I have to say this sounds very depressing.”

                  Indeed it is. Presuming women’s expectations have taken a quantum leap, and men are only making minimal progress to meeting those expectations, then I see no reason to expect significant improvement in the next decade, maybe even the next century.

                  “It is really easy to look at the current issues around men and women and try to figure out who is to blame.”

                  I don’t think I am placing blame, but looking at fault. As I just commented to Marilyn Sims, is marriage more important than men meeting women’s expectations for marriage? And I said it’s worth keeping in mind that unreasonable expectations are premeditated resentments.

                  “And everyone is different on how much and what kind of stretching they are willing to do.”

                  Apparently, there’s not a lot of willingness by many. Certainly not enough to work to make a marriage continue rather than taking the easy way out with divorce.

                  “I am still waiting to hear about what expectations you feel women have.”

                  Examples:
                  1. My husband needs to work hard to provide for me and our family, but I don’t want him gone often or long, he needs to work reasonable hours, and he cannot be a workaholic.
                  2. My husband needs to be at all of the kids’ activities, stay home with them when needed, and spend quality, quantity time with them.
                  3. My husband should desire me sexually, but he should understand that I may be too tired or just not interested in sex on any given night.
                  4. My husband needs to share emotionally with me, but it has to be when I am ready, not when I’m “busy” doing something I want to do.
                  5. My husband should bring me flowers just because.
                  6. My husband should sweep me off my feet with a date every week, and he needs to arrange everything including the babysitting.

                  An example I found: “I want him to want to make me a better person.
                  I don’t want someone who is going to accept me for my flaws. I want someone who will acknowledge my flaws and help me fix them, but, on the other side, he needs to be sweet for when I mess up.”

                  My personal extreme favorite set of expectations: “12. He must be willing to go to Texas all of the time.
                  Texas is where my heart is. If you want my heart, you gotta like Texas.
                  13. Probably be willing to move to Texas
                  I can’t leave my home state. I may try, but I will never succeed.
                  14. Love Texas”

                  For an example of “I’m not sure Jesus would meet her expectations”, see My list of wants for a husband. She claimed in 2012 that her husband (they married in 2010) met 90% of her list from 2006. I wonder if she still thinks he does after 4 more years of marriage. :D

                  Like

                  • linds01 says:

                    Hey Rickety,

                    The first most over-arching thing I feel like I need to say is: with all dues respect, love and kindness I don’t feel like I need to convince you to agree with me.

                    I am going to leave it up to you to judge whether making efforts to change is the old man or the new man.

                    I will say the reason it is a no-brainer for me is because of my own relationship with God and who he has shown himself to be, to me. Some of that is extra-biblical, but some things that make me agree that my own experience and understanding are from God is because of the frequent themes of renewal, being made new, re-building Jerusalem, rebuilding the Temple.. verses like “I am making all things new” and “See- I am doing a new thing!” come to mind.
                    For me the particulars of what he was talking about in those instances matter less than the idea that this- recreating, renewal (growth and change) are very much a part of Gods character.

                    You did list some expectations that sound very much like they are competing expectations in a person.
                    I don’t really have an answer for that.
                    People are people- I personally don’t know a lot of women who expect the ends of two extremes. Rather, they want a balance. I think most people want balance.

                    The only answer I could really give would be – it doesn’t matter what 1 million and 1 other women say they want- the question should be what is it Your closest relationships need? and are you really listening or are you in defense mode?
                    If they want “too much” – is that a good reason for you to do nothing at all?

                    Is there fear that you cant change? Or pain that you are not enough? Is there complacency that you don’t want to change? And with the complacency a level of not really caring?

                    No judgment with any of the above- none of it may be the case. I just think it is important to understand what our own motivations are before we can even begin to find fault in another person or people group. (Male or female.)

                    I hope you are doing well, Sir!
                    Have a great day!

                    Like

                    • OKRickety says:

                      “… I don’t feel like I need to convince you to agree with me.”

                      You don’t. I don’t think I agree with your thoughts on personal growth, but, supposing that it could be true, I wondered why you believe it. I think God wants the best for us, but I think the best is often contrary to the desires of our human nature.

                      I think most men fear that their efforts would be insufficient to satisfy the woman’s expectations. Consequently, there is lack of motivation to attempt to do so. Of course, that could be selfishness or laziness. On the other hand, if it is an accurate assessment, then it might be a wise choice that leads to the best outcome for all concerned.

                      For me, I am much more likely to find a unicorn than to have the relationship I desire. I have accepted this and am reasonably content. It is painful but not depressing. I have no motivation to change in this regard. Nor to search for a unicorn. :)

                      Like

                    • linds01 says:

                      Rickety, so I’m thinking that maybe the laziness and selfishness is linked to much more than men’s view of women. I read this morning about how native English speakers are the worst at communicating to international audiences, even when the audience (or group) is speaking English. The reason being is found in this quote ““The native English speaker… is the only one who might not feel the need to accommodate or adapt to the others,”
                      The U.S. and Britain are world leaders- we are dominate power groups, and as such we think the rest of the world will just bend to us. That is the same issue we have in regards to race. White people have no clue what the reality is for many black people in America, but we assume we are living in the same world so we turn around and judge them because they don’t live/act/think like we do. We believe that because we are the dominate power group we are “right” and they should bend to us. I can’t help but think some of this same sort of reasoning and understanding is occurring in this conversation about men and women. It seems as though you, from a position of what has been the traditionally dominate power group (white male) are blaming the less DPG (females-
                      Of all races) why they are no longer bending to your reality. But, even more than that you don’t consider that you have any need to do any bending towards accommodating them.
                      That is a personal choice of course, but in both the personal and more global arenas that does not foster communication, or unity- and will likely ensure little progress towards a solution that benefits everyone.
                      We may lag behind individually but I believe in wider arenas it is agreed that workable solutions are more important than establishing and maintaining dominance.
                      Ie- we will have to face our rudeness and be more aware and more careful when we are speaking English to non- native speakers. It’s not a moral right or wrong, it’s a practical- if we want this to work, we have to learn how to communicate.

                      Like

                    • linds01 says:

                      I do also want to note that I realize that your answer answer is To fore-go the hope of a mutually beneficial relationship. I do have to say I can’t see that as a practical or long term solution. (This is where I apply universality to the question)… Would no relationship work on a global level? No. We would have a bunch of isolated and starving countries- including the U.S. Giving up and “turning this car around!” won’t really benefit anyone, though it would seem/feel easier in the short term.

                      Like

                    • linds01 says:

                      Ack! I’m sorry! I cant help it, I saw this, this morning also. Tell me what you think about it.
                      http://www.goalcast.com/2016/10/28/rabbi-twerski-times-stress-signals-growth/

                      Like

                    • linds01 says:

                      The two points I would like to make about the video is that the lobster is not making a conscious decision to grow or not grow. He just does it, because that is what happens in nature. The Rabbi agree with this; he seems to assume that growth is a function of creation-period. NOT growing (Especially with a conscious decision to not grow, as humans have) would sort of be thumbing ones nose at nature of creation (And the creator).
                      You can also call personal growth sanctification, if you will.
                      Ultimately, really, we all , are always in a state of becoming. We humans, however, have this thing called consciousness and choice that allows us to direct which way we become. “Personal growth” CAN be all about me, but that isnt what I mean by that.
                      I mean personal growth towards ideas that are obvious in the Bible- things like unity, loving others, being one body.
                      The eye cant say to the foot- I dont need you, ect. (Paraphrasing here).
                      If there ever was effort and intention that is Godly, good and biblical it is towards the unity of one another.
                      This does not mean that one has to give up their self in order to be unified. It takes both an eye and a foot to be a complete body.
                      Which brings us back to boundaries.
                      I’m thinking over Thanksgiving I will have time to respond back to that topic further.

                      Like

                    • OKRickety says:

                      For those who care, this comment thread is continued here.

                      Like

  12. Jeff Strand says:

    For some reason, the article and some of the comments made me think of this:

    Doctor of the Church St. John Chrysostom, in writing on fidelity in marriage said that young husbands should tell their wives, “I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.… I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”

    That goes back about 1600 years.

    Like

  13. marilyn sims says:

    Hi Matt, Donkey, Linds01 and Wifey,

    I’ve had a really difficult time trying to respond here and I finally realized the problem was that there is a difference between marriage as an INSTITUTION and marriage as a JOURNEY and that difference is crucial to understanding why we sometimes have such difficulty in describing what it is we are experiencing to others. In the following paragraphs, I am describing the INSTITUTION and what I see as its historical transgressions and I am BLAMING IT FOR SOME OF OUR PROBLEMS. So I am starting with a definition of INSTITUTION — “A custom, practice, or law that is widely accepted as a mechanism of social order which governs the behavior of a set of individuals within a given community.”

    Marriage as a secular institution is a communal agreement outlining the rules of engagement between men and women when coming together to share resources and raise children. As a religious institution it raises the dimensions of a marital commitment to love to the level of a sacred promise.

    Marriage, as a secular institution, has not specifically supported or encouraged the principles of equality, freedom or justice for its adherents. It has been used as a tool by the financial elite to accumulate and manage wealth.

    “Thackery mocked the way that the Victorian upper classes bought and sold each other’s daughters as if they were cattle at an auction.” Jane Austen wrote about its “impolitic cruelty” It has been used to maintain racial barriers and enforce class/caste distinctions. As a religious institution, it has often fallen prey to the negative dispositions of the secular institution.

    Marriage, as an institution, can be BLAMED for manipulating the character of its adherents through laws like COUVERTURE and the MARITAL RAPE EXCLUSION. Although these laws are no longer in effect, I often wonder whether they still affect us on a subconscious level. They reinforced the MASTER/SERVANT scenario of most marriages in past centuries. I need/want your honest feedback as to whether you think we are still feeling and reacting to that past Thanks!!

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      Hey Marilyn! :)

      “Although these laws are no longer in effect, I often wonder whether they still affect us on a subconscious level. They reinforced the MASTER/SERVANT scenario of most marriages in past centuries.”

      Yes, I do believetheyt still affects ut subconsciously to various degrees. How much of that is the specific laws you talk about and how much is just the general culture climite, i can’t say. But ultimately, they kind of are the same, in my mind. Laws like that wouldn’t be formed had the culture been partnership oriented.

      Like

  14. marilyn sims says:

    Donkey,

    “Laws like that wouldn’t be formed had the culture been partnership oriented.”

    When Terry Real discusses the distress of men and women in traditional marriages he says, in part, that “socialization (PATRIARCHY) teaches women to smooth over, manage and minimize….and it teaches men that they are entitled to run, wall off, deny.. and both wind up feeling hopelessly overwhelmed by the other.” The woman complains “No matter what I say, he won’t listen.” “No matter what I do, she won’t be satisfied” says the man.

    “BY AND LARGE THESE ARE NOT HORRIBLE PEOPLE, BUT GOOD PEOPLE TRYING TO PRESERVE LOVE WITHIN A BAD FRAMEWORK. THE TERMS MUST CHANGE.”

    Like

  15. marilyn sims says:

    Hey Linds,

    I’m commenting on your post of Oct. 30th. “While the marriage relationship certainly needs time and attention and intentional effort (absolutely!)

    I hate to think of people getting in the mindset that it needs to be a teeth gritting, white knuckling sort of effort and work. Sometimes work and be enjoyable, right? And certainly its always easier if you start at the outset with KNOWING HOW TO LOVE, WHICH IS NOT OFTEN THE CASE.(caps mine).

    Until a few years ago, I felt disillusioned, discouraged, angry and sad because I could not relate to how people were defining love. Most of what I was hearing came via the mass media or in the self-help books I was reading. I knew/felt I was somehow lacking the capacity to love. (Also my dysfunctional family –alcoholism and co-dependence– was no help.)

    Luckily, I found David Richo’s book, “How to be An Adult in Relationships”. It saved my sanity.and healed some broken places in my heart. Richo says, “Most people think of love as a feeling, but love is not so much a feeling as (it is) A WAY OF BEING PRESENT.”

    “In this book, he offers a fresh perspective on love and relationships — one that focuses NOT on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and REALISTIC person……Adult love is based on a mutual dedication to granting ATTENTION ACCEPTANCE, APPRECIATION, AFFECTION AND “ALLOWING”. He also discusses, maintaining healthy boundaries as we become increasingly intimate and understanding the major phases of relationships.

    I realize that this definition may not appeal to others, yet, it works amazingly well for me. It takes love out of the realm of absolute MYSTERY into the realm of the amazing EVERYDAY. I feel as though I CAN DO THESE THINGS IF I CHOOSE!!! I can learn and do what love requires. I can build a healthy relationship IF I CHOOSE TO AND IF I AM WILLING TO PUT FORTH THE EFFORT. I also must choose well, that means finding a partner who shares my enthusiasm and dedication to these principles For me, it will take discipline,courage and faith that the universe responds to such efforts. I don’t feel as though white knuckles and gritted teeth are necessary.

    Also, this relates to your observation that men need to learn NEW SKILLS that will enable them to become better partners in marriage — especially since women’s expectations have changed so drastically.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s not entirely unlike weight loss.

    Weight loss isn’t about dieting any more than weddings are about marriage. The wedding is the diet…the maintenance is the marriage. If you stop watching what you eat, the weight comes back on. Period. If you stop feeding your marriage, it dies.

    The only way to keep weight off is to monitor pretty much every day what you’re putting into your mouth – and the only way to keep a healthy marriage is to watch what comes OUT of your mouth every day. (And your actions and stuff.)

    And when we see a thin person, we usually assume that they’re naturally lean, don’t we? We don’t often WANT to believe that that body truly isn’t the result of genes, but more from hours at the gym and a really clean, minimalist approach to food. And we all look from the outside in at how “easy” marriage looks with no idea how much work has to happen to keep it running smoothly.

    So, with my food issues and all…am I willing to work as hard at my marriage as I am at my physique?

    I’m not sure.

    But if I don’t put in the time, I can’t expect to be able to button my skinny jeans.

    Like

  17. OKRickety says:

    this is continuing this thread

    linds01,

    It is common to presume that others have the same knowledge and understanding that we have. I have been in IT most of my life and it is easy to drop into the jargon we know and be completely misunderstood by others. I don’t see this as being the result of being a dominate power group. I think it is simply being unaware that we have specialized knowledge. For example, have you seen this statement? “There are only 10 kinds of people in the world – those who understand binary notation and those who don’t.” I think that’s funny, but it won’t be for those who don’t have that knowledge.

    I myself try to be aware of my audience and tailor my communication accordingly, but I think I am unusual in that regard (both in the IT arena, and the world generally). I certainly do not blame my audience for their ignorance of IT.

    While I agree that men may be refusing to change to meet the expectations of women today because they want to remain in power, I think it is reasonably quite possible that men may actually be unable to change to meet all of the expectations of women today, even when they strongly desire to do so. This would be true if the expectations are unrealistic.

    I understand that you think I am blaming women for their high expectations. Actually, I think I am considering women to be at fault for their high expectations. If anything, I think that women today are blaming men for not meeting the women’s expectations. Would it be best for relationships if men were to try to meet the expectations that are achievable? Yes, of course. Will they try? I think it depends on how the issue is approached. If men are treated poorly when they fail to reach 100% success in 100% of the expectations, then they are unlikely to continue to try. When it happens to one, others will likely notice and they will make their own decisions on their behavior accordingly.

    I could be wrong, but it’s my perception that women generally are dissatisfied when men meet less than 100% of their expectations. The practical result is that relationships, especially marriage, are going to suffer.

    I agree that the world will change greatly if marriage and pseudo-marriage relationships cease to exist or greatly diminish. Will it benefit anyone? Yes, it will. A great many of those who have suffered the pain of divorce would tell you that it would have been better if the marriage had never happened. Will it benefit the world? I wonder. If marriage was approached as it should be, then I think the world would be far better off. If there was a lack of marriage for a decade or two, perhaps the subsequent marriages would be far better.

    Like

  18. linds01 says:

    Hey Rickety,
    The point I was making with native speakers of English and non-native speakers of English (And the context it was written in) does have everything to do with being in a dominate power group, and cant be directly compared to speaking IT. IT is very specific and you are NOT the dominate power group in that context (or the group with the most populous if that sounds better) so you HAVE to be more aware of what people are taking away from what you are saying. In this example native English speakers were more difficult to understand by non-native English speakers, than two non-native speakers of different origins were to each other. That is because the two non-native speakers were very careful with making sure the other person understood the message. They also don’t use a lot of our slang…But, native English speakers hardly ever checked if the person understood their meaning, nor would they slow down their speech or consider that their slang translated a different way . They were just careless, and that is because they can be. They are usually surrounded with other native speakers, and usually have their needs catered to.

    You keep saying that women’s expectations are too high. Anecdotally I know of one person (my cousins Ex) who everyone thought was “crazy” … she would go so far as to remove the white watermelon seeds from the watermelon for her children, all the while complaining about it. Texas, and the south in general, is pretty big on watermelon in the summer. The hard, dark seeds are a pain in the ass. The white seeds are usually ignored. And it is almost criminal to remove even the dark seeds for children ..it leaves them with little ammo for seed spitting contests. People in the south do weird things…*shrugs*
    I will give it to you, that I believe her expectations were too high. But, they were not limited to expectations of her husband- they were high all around.

    I can also agree that there may be some disappointed expectations for women about love, because the idea is so romanticized- and what happens when its not so all consuming anymore.

    You gave these examples:( And while I feel like this can just be an argument that goes on forever because what is too much or too high are qualifiers that are different for every person, I will address these individually)

    1. My husband needs to work hard to provide for me and our family, but I don’t want him gone often or long, he needs to work reasonable hours, and he cannot be a workaholic.

    I think this may be an over simplification of a very dynamic issue. And it paints the picture of women as unreasonable. We are not stupid- we realize that some jobs require long hours. However, if he responds passive aggressively because say “it would be very nice for you to be here for x event” and he intentionally stays longer or schedules himself straight through the time she requested, yeah- she will likely complain.
    And, yeah workaholics are typically hiding from something. Perhaps its not for her that she complains he is a workaholic.
    Maybe she is complaining about his work, because he uses it as an excuse to not engage with her.

    You have to ask what the real issue is here. She wants him at home. She wants his attention. She may not be verbalizing it that way, but she is saying she needs more engagement. Is that because she gets very little even when he is at home? Could there be more authentic engagement, or is he hiding? the real reason for her complaint?
    And… if she really is that lonely/bored perhaps she needs to work : ) …

    2. My husband needs to be at all of the kids’ activities, stay home with them when needed, and spend quality, quantity time with them.
    The use of “ALL” is the only thing that makes this statement unreasonable.
    Ewww… yuck!!who wants to spend quality time with their kids??
    (*Sarcasm)

    3. My husband should desire me sexually, but he should understand that I may be too tired or just not interested in sex on any given night.
    Yeah, I agree. …How is this unreasonable?

    4. My husband needs to share emotionally with me, but it has to be when I am ready, not when I’m “busy” doing something I want to do.
    Again, I think this is an oversimplification.
    You are painting a very 2 dimensional picture of people.
    Is there a better time to share important stuff?- yes, sometimes- most of the time.
    Would you like it if she called you at the office, crying?
    That doesn’t mean she nor he needs to be cold about it- a simple “Hon, I am sorry your hurting so bad right now. I cant talk, but I love you and we can talk tonight.” Would work.

    5. My husband should bring me flowers just because.
    Shoulds are toxic. But being nice to your spouse is not.

    6. My husband should sweep me off my feet with a date every week, and he needs to arrange everything including the babysitting.
    Umm, yeah- these words do not come out of women’s mouths. I sense some exaggeration here…just a wee bit…
    Date nights are prescribed by professionals. I don’t think any woman married more than two years has any delusion of being swept off her feet. She already knows you.
    The point of date nights are not so one partner gets romanced, its so they can both connect. But if one partner is avoiding connection (see #1) then it can feel like a huge burden.
    My BFF’s hubs regularly schedules the babysitter (sometimes , its me :) …

    An example I found: “I want him to want to make me a better person.
    I don’t want someone who is going to accept me for my flaws. I want someone who will acknowledge my flaws and help me fix them, but, on the other side, he needs to be sweet for when I mess up.”
    If I were to stereotype and generalize I would say this was written by a fairly young Christian female. The part that is missing is that she would also do that for him. While I don’t think anyone can fix anyone else, I do acknowledge that the marriage partnership has the potential to be a relationship in which some of our deep seeded flaws are exposed, accepted and to some degree healed.

    My personal extreme favorite set of expectations: “12. He must be willing to go to Texas all of the time.
    Texas is where my heart is. If you want my heart, you gotta like Texas.
    13. Probably be willing to move to Texas
    I can’t leave my home state. I may try, but I will never succeed.
    14. Love Texas”

    Well, Texas IS pretty awesome…:)

    Beyond that- you will have to explain to me the difference between finding fault and blaming. That seems like semantics.

    And as far as no marriages for a decade or two, I dont think that is even reasonable to discuss because that will never happen. Want to know why? hormones!

    Like

    • OKRickety says:

      linds01,

      “You keep saying that women’s expectations are too high.”

      And your overall response to my list is that they are perfectly reasonable. This demonstrates the divide between the sexes. My primary point is that these expectations may not be reasonable. If so, then how will relationships succeed?

      I think, but have no certainty, that most men believe it is impossible to completely meet all of women’s expectations and that women are dissatisfied by this. As long as both sexes maintain their positions, there will be few instances of successful relationships.

      It just struck me that, in my opinion, your response to my list of women’s expectations exemplifies how women generally respond to men. Generally, you discount my statements as being “oversimplification”, “very 2-dimensional”, and “exaggeration”. Of course they are. I was only trying to communicate the concepts, not cover all the possible nuances involved. That type of response does not encourage men to keep trying to communicate.

      “Shoulds are toxic.”

      Is there a difference between a “should” and an expectation? It is more important to know if the expectation is reasonable or not. Unreasonable expectations are toxic. I think that is the crux of this discussion on women’s expectations of men in their relationships.

      “But if one partner is avoiding connection (see #1) then it can feel like a huge burden.”

      Another important way to connect is sex (see #3). If the unwillingness occurs regularly, then there is a significant problem.

      “While I don’t think anyone can fix anyone else, I do acknowledge that the marriage partnership has the potential to be a relationship in which some of our deep seeded flaws are exposed, accepted and to some degree healed.”

      I want to find the quotation of how he expresses it, but I think Terry Real refers to marriage as a crucible where healing can occur.

      “Well, Texas IS pretty awesome…:)”

      As a long-time resident of its northern neighbor, Oklahoma, I don’t think Texas is as awesome as its residents think. :)

      “And as far as no marriages for a decade or two, I don’t think that is even reasonable to discuss because that will never happen. Want to know why? hormones!”

      Well, cohabitation has replaced marriage to a greater degree than many realize, and I think it will become even more prevalent. I think this is quite significant when discussing marriage. And, even if they didn’t cohabit, hormones will result in sex and procreation of the species.

      “Beyond that- you will have to explain to me the difference between finding fault and blaming. That seems like semantics.”

      I still struggle with the idea, but I will try to show that there is a significant difference. The other concept involved is responsibility. And, yes, it is semantics.

      My first introduction to this was being told that no one can make you angry. No matter how grievous their behavior to you, you do not have to become angry. Jesus did not get angry when He was crucified. Our natural response to hurt is anger, but it is not a required response. We are responsible for our own responses, our own actions.

      When someone hurts you, they are at fault. Here’s where it gets complicated: They are to blame for the hurt, but it would be wrong to blame them for your anger. For example, suppose Joe hits Bob and knocks out a tooth, and Bob gets mad and hits Joe and splits his cheek. Joe is at fault for the tooth and is to blame for it. However Joe is not to blame for Bob getting mad or Bob hitting Joe. Bob is to blame for his anger and the cut cheek. If I have this correct (and I may not), Joe is not to blame for all of the fight, because Bob is to blame for his action. This is contrary to what most people would say, that “the fight was Joe’s fault”. They incorrectly blame Joe for Bob’s action but they use the word fault.

      The important concept for this discussion is that we do not act maturely when we incorrectly blame another for our own responses and behaviors. We can choose to act differently in the future.

      Growth of this nature is possible but will not be easy. We have the free will to choose to grow, but it is not a requirement of design. Contrast that with the lobster. The lobster’s growth is not by choice, but a requirement of God’s design. God designed us to be capable of growth, but He does not require that we do so.

      Like

  19. linds01 says:

    I will give you that there may be a lot of expectations, even more than a few generations ago, on our marriage/life partners. But I don’t believe that the expectations are all one sided.

    I feel a tremendous burden to be thin and “beautiful”.. and.. poised and.. womanly but not too needy, fun but not too independent, to provide for myself, but to let men be men….ect. .
    Why? Because that is an expectation that men/society have of women.

    So, it goes both ways

    “My primary point is that these expectations may not be reasonable. If so, then how will relationships succeed?”

    “Reasonable” means with reason. There are very few things in peoples behaviors that are without reason. With the exception of psychosis, everyone has a reason for their behavior (that includes expectations).

    Just because you don’t understand the reason doesn’t mean it isn’t reasonable.

    The marriage can “Succeed” in many ways, depending on your meaning of it, as well.
    Two people can live mostly isolated but side by side to each other. This would not be fun for me, personally.
    Two people stay married, but the union itself is highly marred and scarred.

    …If you want a good marriage (And not just one that is a resigned to the fact) then both partners need to figure out the reasons for each others behavior.

    When you understand the why and you hopefully have some compassion left for your partner, then a few things can happen.

    1.) You can give empathy. “So, youre really nervous and anxious about the dinner presentation, and you really need me to be there, so you can find me in the audience and see an encouraging face.”

    Empathy does a lot of things, one thing it does is it expresses acceptance. So, he or she would be more willing to 2.) make a “confiding statement” the next time they have a real emotional need.

    So, say for example you get home from work and your wife just glares at you and either silence or an argument ensues. But, she never tells you what she is really feeling or thinking because she doesn’t believe it is valid- because either you or someone else has rejected what are real needs, or society has said “women don’t ____”

    A confiding statement would be something like “I am really having a hard time asking you for a hug, and I really need a hug.”

    That allows for the REAL needs to be met, and the partner feels safe and cared for and is “filled up” to function better and to give back to the relationship.

    Its a cycle.

    “I think, but have no certainty, that most men believe it is impossible to completely meet all of women’s expectations and that women are dissatisfied by this. As long as both sexes maintain their positions, there will be few instances of successful relationships.”

    I don’t claim to anything about most men or what they believe. But, I can tell you that what you perceive of women is a little off, and maybe a little off putting.

    Here’s the thing that I am coming to, in my well earned wisdom and understanding as a woman.

    I have suffered from low self esteem for most of my life. I really didn’t believe I was worth much, and that (and this is the important part- I’m not trying to yell, but want to emphasis what I’m saying..) WHATEVER I WANTED TO DO WAS DEPENDENT ON SOMEBODY ELSE.
    Including (And especially) on someone else’s approval.

    Low self esteem is so very common in women because they lack real say over their lives.

    I used to date men that didn’t really interest me, but they seemed interested in me and I thought I should because “maybe this will be my last chance!”

    None of those really worked out. And I am glad- oh, so glad! Because I have grown in my self esteem- in my awareness of who I am, and what I am able and capable of and have the power to do, and the things I really enjoy about life, and the things that really do interest me.

    I would never, could never give that up for the sake of a man who, forgive me for saying it, is “dead weight”. For us to be a servant to someone who doesn’t even try to care about us, or listen to us? For someone who cant engage or help out and all they want to do is watch TV? While I suffer, alone? And because I love my (make believe) children I work until I am exhausted and it is just expected that I do it single handedly?

    I don’t think what women are asking for are impossible expectations. And I am glad they are raising them, because that means they finally know their own worth.

    It isn’t against men to want to be better and have a better life.

    Zombiedrew had this meme on his last post “Selfishness is not living how you want to live it is asking others to live as you want to live.”

    Can you see how asking women to stay small and not grow, is anything but loving or caring?

    And, once somebody grows, they cant go back into the old shell. But they would really like for a new shell to grow with them…

    “It just struck me that, in my opinion, your response to my list of women’s expectations exemplifies how women generally respond to men. Generally, you discount my statements as being “oversimplification”, “very 2-dimensional”, and “exaggeration”. Of course they are. I was only trying to communicate the concepts, not cover all the possible nuances involved. That type of response does not encourage men to keep trying to communicate. ”

    I don’t agree with this assessment.
    You made some statements, I countered them.
    You didn’t like my answers, therefore it is women’s responsibility that men don’t want to communicate?

    I’m not trying to be personally attacking but your overall assertion that “Women have too many expectations…and that is the reason for poor relationships” shows a gross amount of not taking responsibility.

    Would it be different if it was stated “Women have high expectations for their life”? Because I think that is what it is, and I think that is the way it should be.

    “Shoulds are toxic.”

    “Is there a difference between a “should” and an expectation? It is more important to know if the expectation is reasonable or not. Unreasonable expectations are toxic. I think that is the crux of this discussion on women’s expectations of men in their relationships.”

    Please refer to my first response. –
    I don’t remember if I also noted that the measure of reasonableness is entirely subjective to each party.
    Some women may have high expectations. Others may not.
    They may be unreasonable to you.

    That is when you go find something that is reasonable.

    “Another important way to connect is sex (see #3). If the unwillingness occurs regularly, then there is a significant problem.”

    Yes, I agree. Matt and others have talked often about why that unwillingness may exist.

    “I want to find the quotation of how he expresses it, but I think Terry Real refers to marriage as a crucible where healing can occur.”

    AMEN! :)

    “As a long-time resident of its northern neighbor, Oklahoma, I don’t think Texas is as awesome as its residents think. :)”

    You’re probably right!

    “Well, cohabitation has replaced marriage to a greater degree than many realize, and I think it will become even more prevalent. I think this is quite significant when discussing marriage. And, even if they didn’t cohabit, hormones will result in sex and procreation of the species.”

    Ok, hormones was a lame answer. Co-habitation is still long term coupling.

    I just read some statistics that we are actually the highest they have been in 40 years for marriages and a the lowest for divorce in the same period.

    “I still struggle with the idea, but I will try to show that there is a significant difference. The other concept involved is responsibility. And, yes, it is semantics.

    My first introduction to this was being told that no one can make you angry. No matter how grievous their behavior to you, you do not have to become angry. Jesus did not get angry when He was crucified. Our natural response to hurt is anger, but it is not a required response. We are responsible for our own responses, our own actions.

    When someone hurts you, they are at fault. Here’s where it gets complicated: They are to blame for the hurt, but it would be wrong to blame them for your anger. For example, suppose Joe hits Bob and knocks out a tooth, and Bob gets mad and hits Joe and splits his cheek. Joe is at fault for the tooth and is to blame for it. However Joe is not to blame for Bob getting mad or Bob hitting Joe. Bob is to blame for his anger and the cut cheek. If I have this correct (and I may not), Joe is not to blame for all of the fight, because Bob is to blame for his action. This is contrary to what most people would say, that “the fight was Joe’s fault”. They incorrectly blame Joe for Bob’s action but they use the word fault.

    The important concept for this discussion is that we do not act maturely when we incorrectly blame another for our own responses and behaviors. We can choose to act differently in the future.”

    Thanks for explaining. That makes sense. But, It sits wrong with me to say someone is at fault for wanting better in their life.
    That again, sounds like it isn’t taking responsibility.

    “Growth of this nature is possible but will not be easy. We have the free will to choose to grow, but it is not a requirement of design. Contrast that with the lobster. The lobster’s growth is not by choice, but a requirement of God’s design. God designed us to be capable of growth, but He does not require that we do so.”

    You’re right growth is not a requirement, but typically it is a function of living and life, and without it , it usually means you’re dead.

    Like

  20. Laura says:

    Extremely well put (and well thought out!). So many of us go into this with no idea what a real marriage is and the work it requires…

    Like

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