3 Things I Learned About Marriage… The Hard Way

Marriage, as a meaningful relationship between two loving people can be a solid foundation for personal satisfaction and happiness. But we also all know that it is a lot of work. So now, after a period on the job, I’m back to report what I learned.

Don’t Analyze Your Woman

Wherever tension arises, and emotions start to run wild, I used to say “OK, I see that you are angry and upset, but let’s talk about it. I want to get to the bottom of this”. Naively, I thought that the best way to handle emotional turmoil my partner is experiencing is by talking about this right there and right now, and finding concrete solutions to the underlying issue.

Of course there should be a time and a place for talking about it – but not when frustration and impatience take central stage. When love and understanding flow again, and a safe and intimate space is restored – than you can talk about the issue. When the attitude of both partners is of attentive listening and striving to understand each other, the chances that acknowledging the problem and talking about it will actually nurture the relationship, and not strain it further, are much higher.

Instead, the best way I found to handle my partner’s occasional emotional turmoil is simply to be there with her. To listen with empathy, to hug her, to acknowledge that she isn’t happy, but without feeling responsible, and thus without becoming defensive. The challenge is of course not only in understanding this, but in actually being that way in those moments.

Don’ t Try To Please Your Woman

When you are in a loving, tender relationship, you grow accustomed to the harmony and serenity that flows freely. This is a good thing of course. But when conflict arises, and the balance is thrown off, you suddenly find yourself striving to restore harmony as quickly as possible. A conflict, and a feeling of imbalance it creates is an uncomfortable experience. But trying to restore the balance, trying to make things better, actually makes things worse.

Your attempts aren’t seen as authentic responses based on understanding, but as superficial “bandage” thrown to please, to “shut her up”. I discovered it’s better to give the needed space and time for the tension to wear itself off, without rushing it, merely listening, without taking blame and without promising anything. Your words and actions will have more weight, when you had more chance to reflect on it.

Don’t Be Sucked Into The Drama

Whenever my partner becomes unhappy (which doesn’t happen too often), I used to be “sucked into the unhappiness” with her. If instead of watching a movie together as planned, she decides to lie in bed, feeling sorry for herself, I would regard that as “evening ruined”. Becoming upset for her “unreasonable behavior”, switching between guilt and anger I would watch my resentment grow, becoming eventually detached and unloving.

We all need sometimes to be left alone, to bathe in our sadness. And while our partner does that, we shouldn’t be dragged down with him. Instead, it’s best to occupy ourselves with something we enjoy, something that takes our mind from it – watch a movie by ourselves, or read a book for that matter. Not leaving (which may be seen as abandoning), but distancing ourselves from our partner’s feelings, just for enough time to recuperate.

While doing our own thing, resentment disappears, as our partner’s low spirits isn’t perceived anymore as the reason for our own bad mood. And then we are free for our natural empathy to express itself – simply by being by her side – touching, hugging, holding hands. Not because you have to, not because you want her to be “herself” again, but because you genuinely sympathize.

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Do you relate? What you have learned from your relationship?

4 Replies

  • I think it goes both ways.  I don’t think this is a solely gender-related phenomenon. 

    When my husband is upset, there’s not much I can do to change it, fix it, or uplift him…until he’s ready to talk.  He may not cry, go lie on the bed, or anything, but I can tell when he’s unhappy.

    I used to take his attitude as a personal reflection of my doing something wrong.  While that may be the case, sometimes it’s just he’s worried or feeling bad about something else.  Until he’s ready to talk, it only drains/depresses me to blame myself, and it only upsets him to ask him to talk about it before he’s ready.  So, I stopped pushing and also stopped taking personal responsibility for his happiness or unhappiness.  We each have coping skills and the best we can do is empathize but not take away the individual responsibility to find their way back into better feelings. 

    I think this works out better for both of us.

    • Yeah, I guess it can be applied both ways… but I wanted to talk from my own experience, without blurring the distinctions. As I wrote you, I feel that my writing is often too “generalized” as it is 🙂

      I think the most important thing is to make sure that your response to your partner’s bad mood isn’t channeled into resentment. Whatever you do, if you can achieve that, than you are on the right track to “making it work”.

  • Я больше склоняюсь к тому,что все сугубо индивидуально! Есть люди, которым требуется побыть наедине в минуты грусти или расстройств, чтобы потом вновь обрести силы, успокоиться, найти внутреннее равновесие. И только после этого они могут вести конструктивный разговор со своим партнером, обсуждая возникшие проблемы. А второму партнеру нужно в это время уйти в сторону, дать “остыть” своей половинке. Но есть и другая категория людей, которые не склонны пребывать в одиночестве в таких ситуациях, и отстранение партнера воспринимают чисто как наплевательское отношение к себе, полное равнодушие к тому,что с ним происходит. Все зависит от темперамента человека. Но, поскольку вы пара, вы с течением времени находите компромисс – поведение, которое бы устроило вас обоих, не обижало бы ни одну из сторон. Быть в отношениях – это реально тяжелый труд, над отношениями нужно работать, если вы действительно считаете своего партнера второй половинкой. Идеала в природе не существует априори, поэтому за свой идеал нужно бороться, и не в одного, а именно вместе!

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