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Worth The Effort
Part One was about knowing exactly what we want. When it comes to marriage, this can be a challenge. Many of us grew up in family systems that didn't provide a model of what makes a marriage work. With this in mind, Part Two contained a link to a book that I’ve found helpful.
Part Two also shared my experience that…
The best way to improve my relationship with others is to remove everything in myself that ever bothered me about others.
…and when I catch myself complaining about others
…it shows me where I have more work to do.
While there is luck involved in meeting a good partner, marriage is a skill. The skill of relationships.
Why get married in the first place?
It is difficult to see our true motivations.
All these desires can be met in different ways, outside of marriage.
I’ll tell you what changed my mind about marriage. I met a person who made me feel good being near them. That’s something you can’t subcontract.
A feeling of serenity from being near another person. Still have that feeling after 18 years of marriage.
So, the old adage… how do they make you feel?
There’s something there.
Many of the benefits of a successful marriage are hidden to the parties inside the marriage.
I’ve seen friends blow their relationships up for no gain. There was nowhere better to get to.
Our relationship to, and issues with, money can overlap into our relationships.
A form of wealth is the ability to NOT think about money.
Endless optimization makes EVERYONE miserable.
It is similar with an intimate relationship. There’s value is what we are not thinking about, not dealing with.
There are a ton of things, and a world of drama, that I never have to consider. This frees energy for moving my life forward.
My “marriage relationship” is both a valuable asset AND an important part of being able to create the rest of my life structure.
Good Enough Is Good Enough
When I was single, “don’t settle” and “never compromise” were memes. Are they still a thing?
If they are then you should narrow the list of the things you’re looking for.
I settle & compromise often. Why? I’d rather pay attention to things other than small conflicts.
Life is what we notice. Direct attention with intent.
There’s only a couple of things that make a difference in a marriage. Pay attention to those.
Learning how to positively focus our attention is a good habit.
We get more of what we notice.
What Makes A Difference
I’ll share my mental process for meeting my wife.
Makes me feel serene
In terms of having the skills to run a household. We had none, and I really mean it. We were completely clueless.
I believed, rightly, that we’d be able to figure it out together.
Get the big things right.
Kind => I will never knowingly hurt you.
Athletic => A shared, core value for daily living and how the kids will be raised.
Serenity => Extremely low neuroticism (in one of us, not me).
Consider: Is this the sort of person I’d like to serve? Building a family system requires effort over time.
As young adults, we both scored high on “getting stuff done” but it wasn’t in the context of our relationships. We took three years to figure out our marriage before we added the stress of kids.
Kind, athletic, serene => where I wanted to take my own life.
Our marriage can take us where we want to go. An intimate relationship takes all of us somewhere. Might as well head in a useful direction.
Do you know exactly where you want to go?
Choose the core traits of your partner wisely. They are going to have a big influence on the path the two of you follow.
Serve The Marriage
When the relationship consists, solely, of the two of you, you might think serving the marriage implies serving the other person.
“The Marriage” is a relationship over time. If you have kids then your legacy will endure beyond your lifetimes. We’re talking a very long time. My family influences reach back over 100 years.
The payoff comes after all the diapers, toddler meltdowns, financial setbacks, unexpected unemployments, family tragedies… you will have built a shared history, together.
The marriage will be you.
There is nowhere to get to. What I mean here is:
Problems are inevitable.
Problems can be solved, together.
We are all… passing time together.
Remember your vow => I will never knowingly hurt you.
As you move through time, keep in mind the spouse you want to have in your life. When you get a chance to support your partner becoming that person… take it.
When family life gets crazy, I have a habit of wishing away time. Monica reminds me,
Don’t be in a hurry to get old.
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