If only guiding you to a happy marriage was that simple! If only we could email you a handy guide which you could read together with nice easy steps to follow.
Step 1: Fall in love. Step 2: Get married. Step 3...etc. etc. till we get to the final step: LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! ;)
Fact is most of us believe we are naturals at this thing called love. And that marriage will be a breeze as long as we love each other...
Wow, do we all get a rude awakening sooner or later!
So how do we do it then? What makes a happy marriage? Why is love not enough?
Here are a few things we know and experienced in our marriage. Some of them are real mythbusters. Others are truths you might have heard before...with a bit of a twist!
This list is certainly not comprehensive. But it's a start. As you and your partner hopefully join us on this relationship adventure, we will share more. But for now, here are a few tasters. These things are working for us and we think they will work for you...
Well, we didn't have the perfect, happy marriage we were hoping for either! We also went looking for answers. We got hurt, failed and got so frustrated with each other that we were ready to give up!
The stuff we share with you here saved us! We now have a happy marriage.
But only because we explored, found and started DOING and practising this stuff.
It worked for us and we believe it will work for you.
Our marriage survived addiction, the loss of a child, divorced parents and several other issues that you might identify with.
You also have your own stuff and issues that you are dealing with. Your own story...
But believe us...If you join us on this adventure you will not only have a happy marriage but a joyful, alive, growing and connected relationship. A connection you've only imagined or experienced when you were in love.
Here is what we know about a happy marriage...a list of 7 DO's and DONT's to start with:
Every day you have to work to make it happen! It doesn't just happen. Falling in love just happens. But not true, strong, everlasting love. We sometimes think it does. Especially when we are falling in love.
We have to remind ourselves that love only became part of marriage a few hundred years ago. Before that marriages were arranged. Emotions and feelings had nothing to do with it. We wouldn't have had a choice back then!
Today one of the single biggest roles we are expected to perform as a married person is to satisfy our partner's emotional needs and have our own needs met. It's all about identifying what we need, asking what we want and getting what we want.
And what happens when we don't get what we want!?
Be intentional and conscious. WORK to make a happy marriage happen every day. If you don't, it won't!
You fell in love once. And then you fell OUT! This is natural. It happens to all of us. What we then try to do is fall IN love again. We believe we have to get back those feelings that made us feel so wonderful, connected and IN LOVE!.
Do something else.
Do it intentionally.
Work for it!
Create a new, conscious, mature marriage. And don't worry; those feelings of being in love will return. It will be there in this new phase...this Partnership Marriage that you will create.
Go forward not backward in your relationship. Enter a new phase that, unlike falling in love, will last forever. We can show you how when you join us on the adventure...
So, work to create a new way of love that is mature, conscious and intentional instead of trying to get back where it all started.
"Whoa!" I hear you say and many of you will go back to the Google search page now looking for easier answers.
I can also hear you ask: "How can I have a happy marriage if my partner won't, don't, can't change? How can everything get better if we don't FIX the issues?
By now you know that you and your partner are two different people. You might even think you are so different or incompatible that you can't imagine how you ever fell in love! This is all natural and it happens to all of us. Trust us!
On this adventure you will discover and learn that this incompatibly, this difference, is the reason you are together. I know it doesn't make any sense but you have to get comfortable with the fact that you are two completely different beings. And that is OK. In fact that is great. It's the only way you will create a happy marriage together.
I know this might not make sense now. You might be reading this in disbelief and thinking:
"Well, wait 'til you meet her/him!" OR
"I know she/he is the real problem" OR
"He is one with the drinking problem!" OR
"She is the one that had the affair" OR
"If he/she can only admit to his/her mistakes!" OR
"I know exactly what to do to fix us but he doesn't..."
There is another way. A new way. For us it was and still is the only way.
There will be change. Growth. And ultimately Joyful Aliveness. Trust us. Join us on the adventure so you can begin to understand why your differences, your conflict and your hardships are the first steps on a path to new discovery. A new way to love.
It is not about you. It is also not about your partner. We will show you how your relationship will be the one thing that can heal you, grow you and make you stronger.
"Fake it 'til you make it."
I didn't like this term the first time I saw it. I still don't like it. I have come to realise though that the intentional things I need to do to make a happy marriage happen feels uncomfortable at first and sometimes even unnatural. It's those things you have to start doing to make changes for the better.
Yes, it is (#%&$#) hard! (Fill in your own favourite expletive!)
Let me give you a small example. I'm the kind of guy who will easily walk away from an argument with my wife. I used to take pleasure in leaving her stewing and brooding, believing I am right and she is wrong and that I didn't really care what she thought about it.
I came to learn that this was my natural state when confronted with conflict in my marriage. I would rather avoid conflict and make out my wife's concerns as nitpicking or "not serious enough to have a fight over". it was my default mode of coping with conflict in my relationship.
I have since learnt to start listening, How to show up, show concern and look at an issue from her perspective. Believe me, that is HARD for me...and so UNNATURAL at first. Very very difficult! #%&*# difficult!
But as I initially "faked" it I gradually noticed small changes. Small little steps. And slowly but surely I saw little changes that all come together to help build my happy marriage. I now "make it" instead of "faking it". And i am slowly BECOMING better at this. Not always, but most of the time! I'm still getting there.
That is just one example, There are many others.
I cannot begin to tell you what this has done for our marriage, which was (I thought) beyond saving.
I know this one is hard to grasp but living the adventure will make you understand.
So, fake it 'till you BECOME it, or as my wife likes to say: Faith it until you make it!
Again I hear you sigh and think: Of course it's about WHAT we say! If we can't look at WHAT our issues are, WHAT we need to fix it and WHAT we need to change we will never have a happy marriage!
What we want to show you is a new way of communication, a new way of talking, listening and interacting. Communication where listening becomes just as (if not more!) important than talking.
For now simply try to listen. With everything you got. Put away your judgement. Put away your "comeback" line or argument OR counter argument.
There is much more to this new communication toolkit which is more like a DIALOGUE and much less like the monologues we like to have when it's our turn to vent! And it forms the basis of what will become the safe place in your marriage...
Replace ALL negativity with everything positive. Difficult one this! But here is the thing. The thing you FEEL in a happy marriage is CONNECTION. In other words you feel connected. Ask all happy couples what they "feel" and they will say they "feel connected".
To feel connected you first need to feel SAFE. And to feel safe you need to create a safe space or place. Now I am sure you will agree with us when we say you cannot feel SAFE if all you ever hear are negative things like:
"You DON'T bring me flowers and small gifts anymore. When did you change?"
"I saw how you looked at that guy!"
"Why can't you be more like my sister's husband?"
"I thought that was funny. How can that not be funny? You obviously lost your sense of humour."
"Do you always have to raise your voice when you don't agree with me?"
"You don't know how to do that. Just leave it to me, I will fix it."
We can go on and fill pages and pages with this stuff. It's all negative and it pollutes your space.That space between you and your partner.
We are not saying it is not important STUFF. All of these touch on some issues that needs resolving. What we are saying is if you want a space where you can start resolving these issues it will have to be a SAFE SPACE.
When your partner doesn't feel safe they put up their defenses and vice versa. When your partner feels safe, they begin to relax. The listen. They try to understand. This safe space is crucial for a happy marriage.
So, begin to cut out all negativity no matter how difficult it may seem at first. It will change everything.
Love, feelings and emotions come from the heart right?
Hmmmmmm.... we feel it in our hearts ,yes, but it all starts in your brain!
How you feel, how you react to conflict, how you act and react when you get angry or sad...all of that happens in your brain.
That is why we believe you can change the way you love, the way you are with your partner and the way you DO marriage. That's right! It's "all in the mind" as the saying goes.
Understanding this goes a long way to understanding yourself, your partner and the differences that can drive you insane and eventually break up your marriage.
You can train your brain to act differently, speak differently and relate differently. Yes, this might feel uncomfortable and unnatural at first. It might feel you are faking some stuff. But stepping out of your comfort zone and out of the way you naturally react (because this is the way your brain has conditioned you to SURVIVE!) will create a new way of love, of talking, of listening...
A new way to live and DO a happy marriage.
It's very difficult. But it's worth it! We kid you not! It saved us. It's saving us every day. Stopped us from getting divorced and then... gave us what we never imagined. Our only hope was that we could somehow find a way to be together for our kids. We thought if only we could learn to cope with each other and our issues so that our family could survive.
Instead we got so much more. Much much more! Our marriage not only survived. It started blooming. Growing. Prospering...It came Alive.
Join us on the adventure. We dare you. It's worth it.