“Marriage is hard work.” I think that’s a bunch of bologna. If I had said to Dale, “Honey, being married is going to require hard work, and lots of it,” he would have cut and run as fast as he could and who would have blamed him? Certainly not me. When I envision a great marriage, I don’t see a labor camp. So, I got to wondering why do we so often hear, even from relationship gurus, that a good marriage requires hard work. I’m thinking maybe couples are working hard on the wrong things. For instance . . .
Being right. Just as you can’t have over without under, up without down, cold without hot, or light without dark, you can’t be right without someone else being wrong. While there are things that, based on empirical evidence, are objectively right, I’m sorry to say that your opinion is not one of them. We all have opinions about virtually everything…the prettiest color for the bathroom…the superiority of cats over dogs (or vice verse)…the best team in football…the perfect recipe for mac ‘n cheese…what music is worth listening to, and so on ad infinitum.
And while it may be difficult, if not downright impossible, to believe that anyone would love eggplant, prefer beige to taupe, and think a day at the water park is as good as it gets, your partner has opinions, too. Expressing your opinion is easy. Listening to your sweetheart’s opinion is easy if not mind-boggling. So far, no hard work. It’s when you elevate your opinion to universally right and then try to convince your sweetheart that he or she is wrong that the going gets tough.
Differences are just that. Your sweetheart is not your clone. Get over it. If you insist of making differences matters of right and wrong, you’re going to be exhausted from the hard (and futile) work of convincing your sweetheart how right you are and how wrong he or she is. Worse, you’re going to be an irritating bore. It’s not necessary to reconcile all your differences to peacefully coexist. Really, it’s okay if you’re a Democrat and your sweetie is a Republican. Where differences do have to be reconciled—yep, you do have to agree on what color to paint the bathroom—it’s just a matter of negotiation. And, come on, differences make life more interesting, don’t they? No matter how wonderful you are, would you really want to live with your mirror image?
Arguing about whether beige or taupe is “right” is not only a waste of time and exhausting, it plays havoc with intimacy. So, here’s the choice:
If you want more intimacy in your relationship (and who doesn’t?), stop working hard on the wrong things.
More on this topic in future posts. So, stay tuned!