Dear Jack, I think it’s about doing certain things just because it makes her happy. Your desire should be to do things that make her happy. Especially because of the fact she’s been a wonderful wife to you; she goes out of her way to be supportive of you, sticks by you no matter what. There are thus things you won’t ordinarily do, but you do them because they make her happy. That’s the least you can do for her – make her happy. And so you stretch yourself to buy that birthday present, do your best to make the day enjoyable for her – make it a day she can be happy. You just want to see her happy. It’s what couples should do for each other – sacrificially make each other happy. And she need not know you stretched yourself to make that birthday memorable. Doesn’t matter. If someone makes you happy, make the person happy. That’s a mantra to live by.
Don’t treat as common those who care for you. Don’t disparage genuineness of affection. You will lose, find yourself holding unto nothing. You don’t bargain genuine affection by withholding affection. That’s a terrible foreign exchange transaction. If you get rid of the need to control your partner and concentrate on loving and caring for her, you will have a wonderful relationship. But when things are dragged out; when even a simple compliment or gesture has to be dragged out of you, it loses value.
There’s something about generosity of spirit in marriage. It makes everything easy. Generosity in giving, generosity in loving, generosity in expression of affection, generosity in care… Generosity makes a marriage easy and wonderful. But once selfishness and manipulation become the order of the day in a relationship, something wonderful gets thrown out of the window. The very act of attempting to manipulate your partner makes you lose something wonderful. Manipulation is strategic and targeted insincerity. If you become manipulative in your relationship at some point, you will have the appreciative quality of swine for pearls. Avoid swine mentality in your relationship. Swine don’t appreciate good things. Everything has to be muddied. Even pearls.
You have to go out of your way to make your partner happy. It’s called effort. It is then her duty to appreciate that effort. If she doesn’t she discourages future attempts, begins to take things for granted. A wise man does not take that which is precious for granted. And it largely stems from your philosophy of life. If you see your partner as someone to be exploited, you will depreciate grace.
You know we sometimes assume good relationships are common. After all, it’s a matter of meeting someone. That’s the thinking. But it takes a combination of wonderful happenstances to bring two people who fit each other perfectly together. Life has to work hard to achieve these miracles. Think about it. The person may meet your physical standards but not your cultural standards. The person may meet aesthetic standards but not spiritual standards or even values. The person may look wonderful but your upbringing may just not match. And there are social standards, economic standards, the issue of personality, the extraordinary requests we place on life… things peculiar to us. You may meet the right person but geography won’t permit a relationship. And sometimes parentage impinges and history disturbs. And so, wonderful combinations take an awful degree of life’s computation, the crushing of data, the churning of unseen algorithms. A wonderful relationship is a miracle of life. The odds are stacked against it. Once you come to realise wonderful relationships are miracles of life, you will cherish who you have, not just what you have.
I’m just saying you should pamper this woman rather than concentrate on trivialities. We all have our imperfections. When you weigh her wonderful qualities against those “negatives” and there is an overwhelming imbalance of “positives”, value what you have. Same goes for her. There’s nothing as sad as two wonderful people losing each other. Nothing as puzzling as two wonderful people who just can’t make it work, make it happy, make it last. You hear all those stories about how wonderful he is, and how wonderful she is… But then they broke up! That is painful. And so there has to be non-negotiable commitment in a marriage. Commitment is fundamental. Commitment is key. You must be committed to each other and to each other’s happiness. She seeks to make you happy, you seek to make her happy. That kind of shuts out busybodies. And pretty much everyone else. A marriage is a private party for two.
Two things must be present in marriage – peace and happiness. There’s the joy of having each other, loving each other, doing things for each other… Which of course means you do your best not to do things that will devastate her. One such thing is betrayal. One of the big marriage wreckers is wrong-headed allegiance to external parties over your partner. If her allegiance is to her family and your allegiance is to your family, the centre cannot hold. It means the marriage is being pulled in two different directions – opposing directions. The marriage is being pulled apart by invisible forces.
Your first and most important allegiance in marriage is allegiance to your partner. Disparate allegiances have never held a marriage together. It will tear. That’s not saying families have no role in the marriage. But the primary role of each family is to bond the marriage together. The college of in-laws ought to provide adhesive for your marriage. The more lovingly integrated the bigger family is, the more bonded the marriage will be. Selfish ambition and disloyalty will destroy any marriage. It’s why you don’t say nasty things about each other outside; it’s why you don’t disparage your spouse to your friends. It’s not wise, it’s disloyalty. Same thing goes for her. She shouldn’t be discussing you with her friends, unless to say wonderful things about you. When others drag their spouse through mud, keep yours. Resolve to say only flattering things about your spouse to third parties. It’s a good rule to live by.
I hope these words will suffice. Go out of your way to make her happy.
Your mentor, LA
For related letters, search for LOVING TAKES EFFORT, EMOTIONAL BANDWITH, LAW OF EMOTICONS at http://stepheni6.sg-host.comA marriage is a private party for two. Click To Tweet