I once heard the minister who was officiating a wedding say that happiness in marriage is more about being the right partner than marrying the right partner. What a concept! I am sure that there were many in the audience pondering that statement.
In my work with couples who are trying to save their marriage I often hear them say: “Well, that’s the way I am, I can’t change that.” My reply to them usually is: “How well is that working for you”? The invariable answer to that question is: “Not very well.”
Marriage or dating partners blame each other for problems in their relationship, and that is human nature. In an intimate relationship we have a great opportunity for growing and becoming the kind of person we need to be. Contrary to popular belief, being who we are is not unchangeable. While it’s important to stay true to important values and principles that define us who we are, the things that prevent us from having a loving connection with our partner can definitely be changed and improved. We can learn to communicate respectfully, control our emotions instead of letting them control us, we can become better problem solvers, we can find ways to manage stress effectively, among many other things that can have a positive impact on our relationships.
Of course, this process cannot begin until each partner honestly looks at themselves and takes responsibility for how they are contributing to the problems in the relationship. The next step is to go about the work of becoming the kind of partner you need to be. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. But as we all know, anything that is worth something will cost us something. Committing to our own process of self-improvement is as important as the commitment to the marriage.
So, I believe the minister was right. If both partners go about the business of becoming the right partner in the marriage, happiness in it is the byproduct for both. How about you? This is a challenge for all of us.