"I often wish it were easier for married couples to be open about the difficulties of marriage and to be able to ask for help without always having to pretend that everything is perfect."
Lisis responded, saying,
"Daphne… you’ve brought up a major issue I’ve been thinking about lately, regarding marriage. Why do we always have to give the appearance of a perfect marriage? Lots of people I know who are divorced might have been able to save their marriage, or get out sooner, had they been able to talk to each other or their friends and loved ones openly about what was going on. But no one wants to admit that THEIR marriage is difficult.
I’ve got news for everyone out there: EVERY marriage is difficult at times. The only way it isn’t is if you aren’t really IN it… if you don’t have skin in the game, and just coast through it protected by indifference. But what kind of marriage would that be? We need to get over ourselves and our desire to pretend everything is perfect and start talking, REALLY talking about what is going on."
This is a HUGE conversation and it starts now.
(Originally planned as a guest post on Lisis' blog, we have moved the venue here because of some recent very interesting conversations on another topic happening at her blog right now.)
Marriage is hard. So many of us buy into the idea that a good marriage is supposed to be perfect. This unattainable standard dooms many marriages to failure. When we pretend that our marriage is perfect, we lose our ability to ask for help.
It is a difficult balance, however, between privacy and openness. The survival of a marriage hangs in that balance and somewhat, too, upon the quality of the support network surrounding that relationship. Our support network must be willing and able to ask us "How are you?" and truly want to hear the answer. In return, the married couple must know that their support network can be trusted and must be willing and able to share the truth.
Challenges and conflict in a married relationship do not necessarily equal an unhappy marriage. The way we handle those things are what defines the relationship. Each day we make choices that will either improve, detract from, or flat-line our relationships (courtesy of Susan Scott at Fierce, Inc.). Honest and open conversations with each other and with our support network are one of the keys to a successful and happy marriage.
This means talking about everything. Nothing is off limits. Get to the meat or the heart of the interaction. Nothing will change if it is not identified and spoken about.
There are too many examples in the media of failing marriages and not enough good examples. I would like to share with all of you some resources that I have found that encourage these kinds of conversations and open communication.
First, a story in the New York Times about Barack and Michelle Obama's marriage. It is an open and honest story about struggle and survival and happiness in marriage, valid no matter your political leanings.
Second, some blogs that touch on the reality of marriage in ways that don't read like Cosmo articles:
Zen Family Habits
The Marry Blogger - check out their finalists for the top 10 marriage blogs here
Confessions of a Young Married Couple
Wilma's blog - especially the posts about communication
Through The Illusion - Hayden's posts about her marriage here and here
Let the conversation start now, in this safe space, and let us become part of your support network.
If you knew that there would be no negative consequences from a conversation you want to have with your partner/spouse/significant other, what would you ask or say?
How are you?
How is your marriage?
How is your sex life?
Are you happy in your marriage? If not, why not?