In the West, we like to make marriage into a complicated, difficult thing involving lots of self-sacrifice, compromise, and arguments.
But does it have to be that way?
Well, not necessarily. But it relies on your following two rules:
- Never threaten to leave your partner
- Never assume that they are deliberately trying to hurt you
With these two rules, you can create a bedrock that will enable your relationship to last until the end of your life.
But why are these rules so important? And why does breaking them so often lead to couples counselling?
Rule #1: Never Threaten To Leave Your Partner
Many spouses threaten to leave their partners. They say things like:
“If you don’t stop smoking, I’m walking away from this relationship.” Or “if you don’t start treating me with respect, I’m going to move out of state.”
The reason spouses use statements like these is that they want some bargaining power. They feel that if they threaten the security of the relationship, they can get what they want.
Unfortunately, this form of extreme arm-twisting is counterproductive. Once you make a statement like this, it is usually only a matter of time before the relationship fails. If one person threatens to leave, it means that the relationship does not have a secure basis. Partners can come and go as they please.
Instead of threatening your partner with leaving, try to bargain in a different way. Offer positive rewards instead. Or when they do what you want them to do, praise them for it, and keep praising them until they get the message.
Rule #2: Never Assume That Your Partner Is Deliberately Trying To Hurt You
The other big rule is never to assume that your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you. Sometimes, we can allow our minds to run wild, imagining that our partners are trying to cause us all sorts of pain,
However, unless your spouse is a psychopath, that’s almost always not the case. If you feel hurt by something they said or did, think of the issue from their perspective. What are they trying to get out of the interaction? Almost always you’ll find that whatever they said was motivated by fear or anger, and not out of personal malice towards you.
This rule ties into the idea that we should be as forgiving as possible in relationships. If we feel hurt, we should always drill down to find the root of the problem. We should never assume that the other person is trying to inflict pain directly.
If we do, it opens a whole can of worms. We start to believe that our partner is a bad person and that we need to reform them. We can also start to believe that they are irredeemable and that we need to get out of the relationship as quickly as possible.
In some cases, you may need to leave, but these are rare. Next time you feel hurt, ask your partner where it is coming from. Be genuinely curious about their fears and what is going wrong for them.