Part of the difficulty with marriage is that the only training we get is “on the job.” Rarely do you say to someone, “I want you to go work with those tools in there, Have fun, get the job done, and don’t kill yourself.” But, essentially, that is the start of a marriage. We have some rudimentary skills from relating to others, but the real knowledge and skills are hard-earned.
And the problem is, sometimes we learn lessons that are incorrect, or at least only partially true.
These become the myths of our marriage. They are the stories we tell to ourselves in attempts to understand. Unfortunately, they are only partially right, at best. Often, they are totally wrong.
Once we learn the stories, we refuse to give them up.
You can decide if you tell yourself these stories, and if so, what you might be missing. Because, you see, the stories we tell ourselves determine how we act and what we assume.
And that, ultimately, can either teach you to use the tools or allow you to injure yourself.
MYTH. “Marriage shouldn’t be this hard.”
This myth leads to, “If it is hard, maybe we shouldn’t be married.”
This is a powerful story about marriage. People assume that good marriages are easy, and there is no struggle. There is the romantic belief that good relationships “just work.” Science has yet to discover a perpetual energy machine, and I doubt relationships are any different.
This summer, I was at a beach that hosts the annual sea turtle nesting. The large mother sea turtle lumbers up the beach, just above the high-tide mark, right at the base of the sand dunes, digs a hole some 18 inches into the ground, and lays a large group of eggs. Those eggs are left to develop and hatch, usually a couple of months later.
Now, here’s the interesting thing. those tiny turtles (maybe 3 inches long) have to make the long trek from the nest to the sea. The long trek for the mother turtle is very long for the baby turtle.
Some people have felt bad for the turtles in the past, and decided to help them to the surf.
By picking up the baby turtles and carrying them to the surf, the “helpers” insured the death of the turtles.
You see, that long trek to the sea builds the muscles in the flippers of the baby turtle. Those muscles are all that ensure the survival of the babies.
Some struggle (not too much) is necessary for developing the muscles of survival. It is true with relationships, and certainly true with marriage.
When we struggle together, we develop the skills necessary to take on other struggles.
The real task is not to have a marriage that is easy. The real task is to learn how to allow the struggle to move you together, not push you apart. The statistics are pretty clear. Almost half of all marriages end in divorce. However, the hidden statistic is that 100% of marriages have difficulties. Staying married is not from a lack of difficulties, it is from using the difficulties to learn and develop.
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By Dr. Lee Baucom
Relationship Coach and Marriage Expert.