Dear Jack, a marriage can quickly become stale as a couple “settles down.” Anything stale and mouldy can’t be good. As with bread so is marriage. Yes, the courtship stage is over but it’s important to keep the momentum in marriage, even if it’s not exactly same quality. Life can be terribly busy but you have to create special occasions. You have to enjoy yourselves as a couple. Life will never end. It just keeps going and it will outlast you. You can’t overtake life. So sometimes, it’s best to get off the bus as a couple, get away from the chores of life and enjoy yourselves. The responsibilities of life never end. You have to create space to be a couple. It can be anything from going to the movies, to going for a drink together, to going to an informal party or hosting one.
It’s just not good to grow old in marriage – settling into a routine that says life is gone, joy is gone now you’re married. Marriage is like water. It has to keep flowing or it will harbour all what not. Marriage has to be kept fresh. There’s no automatically maintained marriage. There’s always effort. One of the ways marriage is kept fresh is through gifts. Those surprise gifts tend to surprise. A gift is some form of expression of appreciation, a term of endearment. Who doesn’t like gifts! And so you need to surprise each other with gifts. There’s just something about it. Surprise her with something for the nail salon, or for the hair. Give her something to splurge on herself. If all you’re concerned about is meeting obligations, your marriage would become as interesting as a 3-day old newspaper. And you can just keep going that way…you know, meeting obligation after obligation without reprieve. Then your life would seem like a document in a civil service establishment. It just keeps being annotated and filed.
Giving is very important in marriage. Successful marriages are in a state of giving. It may be the gift of care, a gift of concern, a financial gift, a gift of a kiss, a gift of a text, a gift of a hug… A good marriage is a giving marriage. Couples in happy and successful marriages give. The problem many times is that each party expects to be given. And so expectations aren’t matched to duty. When only one party is giving in a marriage, giving fatigue sets in. Someone soon starts feeling taken for granted. And someone starts institutionalizing that his or her duty is to collect and not give. No marriage based on such a premise can last. If it does, someone is unhappily married. An unhappy marriage is not really a marriage. It’s just a statutory situation. Both parties are not really bound. Without the law, they’ll fly apart. That’s a statutory marriage.
The greater form of giving in marriage though is sacrificial giving. It’s an expression of love. Sacrificial giving is doing things for the other person from inconvenience. It is tending to each other at those odd hours, in those odd circumstances. Sacrificial giving cannot be convenient. Sacrifice is a measure of value. The more the sacrifice the higher the value placed. You have to give sacrificially to your spouse. It’s a sweet scented oblation. She has to tend to you sacrificially too. She can’t just be a taker and not be a giver. The idea of marriage is you give your life to someone. It’s that serious. And that’s exactly what happens. Those who are not ready to follow through on the sacrifice required in marriage can’t give the necessary commitment.
Marriage is putting the other person before you all the time. It’s selflessness. Marriage is considering the needs of the other party, being sensitive to those needs. And it’s not always about material giving. The ultimate giving in marriage is the gift of yourself. This is no longer boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Marriage is a heavy commitment to a life. It is being committed to care for someone through thick and thin. The other party has to know you’ll always be there. Once a couple gets into selfish and self-centered mode something gets subtracted from the marriage. It’s why we work on ourselves, make corrections. Marriage is like a mirror. Your spouse is your mirror. You think you know yourself but that’s a faulty system of evaluation. You can’t be the subject and mirror at the same time. We never ever get to know ourselves until we know ourselves relative to someone. You may for example think you’re generous. Until you meet someone very generous. Then you’re forced to reevaluate. That’s what marriage does to you. It makes you see your imperfections in a loving context. You begin to realise the gaps in your life. You see, your spouse is what you’re not. It should make you appreciate your spouse. We all have varying strengths in marriage. That’s the essence of partnership. Marriage is your partner’s capacities and capabilities plugging the gaps in your life. There’s the moral in that old saying, “One will chase a thousand but two will chase ten thousand.” A marital partnership produces an order of magnitude. Two is better than one. Don’t let the embers of your love die. Those dead marriages didn’t die overnight. Someone forgot to tend the fire.
A cold and hard marriage is not something to be desired. That’s a harsh reality without kindness. A marriage should be warm and soft and caring and loving and giving and supportive. A marriage shouldn’t be a cold harsh prison. In that case something has gone horribly wrong. You ought to want a good marriage, but more importantly you’ve got to work to have one. When both of you are committed to the idea of a good marriage then you’re on the same page.
Be a giving husband. Be a loving spouse. Let your wife feel safe in your love. The benefits far outweigh the outlay. Consider these things.
Your mentor, LA
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org
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