Consciously Married

Posted by on Jul 20, 2016 in This was on my mind, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Marriage has been around for thousands of years. It has bent and shook and shifted to meet the necessities of place and time. The problem is the world has changed so rapidly of late that marriage hasn’t had time to catch up. Our society no longer changes in the slow, plodding manner of the past. We now engage in the universal exchange of information and ideas at lightning speed. Legal, social and moral absolutes have shifted, been lifted and some have simply disappeared. Women, legally liberated and economically able, have choices they never had before. There are now have an endless array of options.

Compared to the way we used to work and live just a hundred years ago, we have copious amounts of free time and unparalleled access to things that give us immediate gratification. We now have the time and social permission to ponder what we want, ruminate on how we feel and ask ourselves, “Am I happy?”

Despite these sweeping changes, we haven’t rethought marriage in any significant way. Once an institution of obligation, it is now one of choice. No longer arraigned, mandated or simply the only game in town, today marriage is something we do simply because we have fallen in love. Formerly a legal fortress difficult to escape, these days it’s something we can walk away from any time we please. Having changed the reasons we get into it and obliterated most of the obstacles to out, the institution may look and sound the same but it’s completely new.   But we haven’t changed how we approach it. We keep reaching back for old school solutions to modern day problems because we liked the old school divorce rate. That’s like trying to fix a Prius with parts from a Model T Ford.

As contradictory as this might seem, I believe we can get closer to living the marriage fantasy of “Happily Ever After” by accepting the fact that the fairytale does not exist. We are not rudderless ships in the rising tide of a failing institution. In order to make this old institution work in this new day and age we need to take the best of what was, acknowledge the challenges that are, and create a something new. Once we removed all the stuff that used to cement marriages together, it ceased to be a state of being and became a process that we engaged in. We need to accept that and decide to accommodate the changes in social circumstances, absorb the aftershocks of unparalleled technological advances, and create a marriage scenario that functions well — not for everyone, but for the two of you.

We can replace the glue that used to keep marriages together with a greater understanding of how we work. We can revel in the joy of romantic love, but still be practical in its application. In modern-day marriage, love is king. But, as in all of life, practicality is queen. And I believe it is time to show Her Highness some respect.

Rule Number 1: Decide to be consciously married.

Think of marriage as a 2-year-old who we want to let go outside. Fifty years ago we had legal, social and moral fences that kept that kid in the back yard. Over time we took the fences down, one by one. Yet we still have the nerve to be shocked when we look up and find the child has left the grounds. Of course he’s gone. All the things we relied on to rein him in have been removed and we haven’t made any deliberate effort to replace them with anything else.

Now that containment is no longer the answer, we need to engage in active parenting. You have to keep that 2-year-old engaged and appropriately directed. You cannot take your eyes off of him and let him wander too far away from you. That means you have to start working on your marriage the very second after you say I do.

With those fences down you have to put procedures into place to feed what we know about the biological realities of love and the social realities of how we currently live. We have to actively pursue a passion that keeps our attention while we are out back. We need to spend more time being hand in hand so we don’t drift apart.

In other words, you have to be consciously married. It is no longer a state of being, something you can just enter into and let it rest where it is. It is that toddler who needs constant attention designed to keep him happy and occupied.

from Making Marriage Work

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Judge Lynn
    July 23, 2016

    To T, a woman awash in regret and compromised into a corner:

    I read what you wrote me. While there is no magic elixir to fix all that has gone wrong there are some things I’d ask you to remember and others I’d ask you to consider.

    You said ” I feel I’m living a lie where I can’t even go to church anymore because I’m so miserable. ”  If there is one thing I know about church is is that you need not be perfect to go. In fact, the time to go is when you are the most broken. I’m not making any religious protestations here, but taken on its face, it’s the best place to be when you feel like you are the least worthy.

    Yes, I see all of the mistakes you made but I also see what you have accomplished and what’s working for you. Though it’s been a rough road with your man he is taking care of a disabled son that’s too big for you to handle on your own. Do you have the right to resent him for all he put you through … absolutely. He was a first class grade A jerk.  So don’t dwell on what he did, use what he has to contribute.

    Remember who you are in this relationship and everything you’ve done on your own. I think he senses your sense of worthlessness and uses it to keep you under his thumb. You’re the bread winner. You kept he family upright while he was on a tangent. Don’t forget that the next time he throws anything in your face.When he does don’t get angry but let him know you’ll not be demeaned. I think he plays on your fear that he might leave you with a disabled son that you can’t physically assist anymore. Remember he’s the one with no license, and no money except for that he gets for caring for your son. His position is more tentative than yours. Besides if he got hit by a truck tomorrow you’d find a way to move forward. You wouldn’t just lay down and die. You can re-work the resources he’s sucking up if you had to so don’t feel more hemmed up than you are.

    Don’t let him push you into regret. Look on him as a a logistical annoyance. He’s the baby sitter that stays with your son while you conduct a life.

    Actually conduct a life. Find some joy somewhere. If it’s only an hour a week do something you can look forward to. Go back to school, do something that augments you. Be headed somewhere, even if you’re not altogether sure how you’ll get there.  Your life seems awash with obligation and regret. Place something you enjoy in it. You have the right. Mothers sometimes forget that. But whatever you do don’t keep beating yourself up about the decisions that you made.  They were what they were and you got everyone from point A to where you are now. You have done pretty well and you are still young.  You are a mother and a survivor. Kudos to you.

    Meanwhile don’t let his attitude define how you feel about yourself. That’s the part I really want you to hear. Claim your space and own your achievements. Look at him as a necessary nuisance. You can back him up off your spirit. A subtle change in attitude from you can re-direct the flow in your house. A calm assertion of individual strength can work wonders. If you adopt a sense that you have plans for yourself and your children, you will feel and be stronger. Changing how you feel about you will change more than you can imagine.

    Go to therapy, as you suggested. It will help you see your power and your positives. Trust me, they’re there because I can see them from here.

  2. Rebecca
    July 25, 2016

    Judge,
    I have been married to my husband for 10 years and he has never consummated our marriage. He has made excuses for not performing and I believed him.. I have confronted him in several occasions. He finally said that he did love me but like his sister and called me his troohy wife..!
    I he has caused my family members, including grand children not to visit our home.. He filed for a separation this week.. I’m packing and moving. My 4th marriage.. 1st abusive, 2, on the fly, 3, alcoholic, 4 mentally and emotionally abusive. I realize I need help!

  3. Iris Roman
    July 26, 2016

    After 17 yrs together 14 married my husband lifted his hands on me. I won’t accept no abuse. We both agree to a divorce. We’ve through counceling and the therapist agree with divorce because my husband lives with the padt and refuses to let go. We have no kuds in common and he has moved out and moved foward so have I. Any advice from you would be very welcome as I see yr show and yr knowledge.

  4. Judge Lynn
    July 26, 2016

    To Rebecca and Iris, First I am sorry for your troubles but what I would like to say to the both of you is this. Both of you have moved forward after difficulties. You need to feel good about that. I also want you to both believe that you are not defined by what people do to you whether they are your husband or anyone else.

    Don’t look at the leaving as a failure but a form a freedom. You have jettisoned those who have caused you hurt and harm and now you are in a position to define your life for yourself. You should work on being you not getting another guy. And please don’t think of those years you’ve been with whichever guy were wasted. You lived them. You’ve raised children in them. You’ve learned in them. You grew stronger in them.

    I want you guys to get excited about the possibilities. Now you can focus on yourself and your kids. Expand your horizons. Find some joys. Enjoy being number 1 without having to please someone who wasn’t pleasing you.

    BEST OF LUCK JLT

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