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A Stunning Marriage Secret

June 20, 2012

I was astonished when I came across the simplicity and power of the article Secret of a Good Marriage written by Gerti Schoen, MA, LP mostly because I hadn’t really thought about the implications of this common belief about married couples.

Here’s the secret: “The most pervasive issue when couples don’t get along is chronically looking at the other person as a separate entity. When two people don’t see themselves as part of a unit… that’s when trouble is ahead.”

How often have you heard phrases like two peas in a pod, joined at the hip, or united forever to describe happily married couples? I’ve heard them a lot but never really stopped to think about the underlying thought pattern that this language is promoting. If marriage has united us, then I should not look at my wife simply as a separate person but rather as an extension of myself, as a part of the unit that is us. When I do this, her needs become my needs, her pain becomes my pain, her joy becomes my joy. If I don’t know why she is in pain, I desire to find out so that our pain can be eased.

With this mindset I am also able to recognize that sometimes one part of me will grow tired and need a break; likewise, my wife may get tired or stressed and need some alone time. Healthy boundaries are still needed and must be respected by both individuals so as to benefit the couple. My hands are part of my body, and hurting one hand is bad for the other because they’re both part of me, nevertheless, they both remain individual hands. At times the left hand may have to put a bandage on the right hand, other times the right hand may have to pluck a thorn from the left hand. No matter how much one needs the other; they both remain individual parts of the same unit and mutually benefit from anything that is good for the body.

Schoen warns that if we don’t view the relationship in terms of us rather than you and I, then, “‘You do…’ and ‘you don’t…’ becomes the most used introduction to any conversation – or argument. We are constantly evaluating the other as to what’s right and what’s wrong with them, and it slowly but surely destroys the foundation of the partnership.” We need to remember that “The hallmark characteristic of being human is that we are not perfect.” And that, “‘Embracing our humanity usually means coming to terms with our shortcomings – and those of the other.” When we view our relationships as a unit, we can accept other’s faults as our own and thus are enabled to be like two peas in a pod.

Certainly, changing one’s mindset to regard the needs of someone else as equal to our own is not an easy task, but I agree with Schoen that, “If you embrace your partner as a part of yourself, rather than a separate entity outside of you, all arguments will end – peacefully.” And that is one secret worth pursuing!

~Curt

Do you have this mindset regarding your relationship? What secrets do you use to have a good marriage?

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