Your Spouse, Yourself & Your Relationship
Where One Starts And The Other Ends
You are in charge of how you feel in a relationship. Viktor Frankl identified that even in the horrifying confinement of a concentration camp, where evil was being perpetrated upon him constantly, he still had the ability to choose his attitude. Surely that is what the Bible teaches as well. The Son of Man chose his attitude in every situation. Jesus the Christ, who only days before caused a fig tree to instantly die, refused to wither his captors and chose instead to free them from the bands of hell. He freely gave them physical salvation through a guaranteed resurrection and offered a spiritual redemption as well. Likewise, Peter and his fellow apostles freely served the people and rejoiced during times of persecution. You are always in charge of how you feel in any relationship.
Pain is Real
The body will naturally revolt against pain. Derisive comments made toward you will hurt. Anger, accusations, and belittling will result in pain. Your body will respond through flight, fight, or freeze. What you decide to do with the derisive comments are 100% up to you.
You are not in control of the comments that people say to you. You do have control over how you will choose to accept, deny, retaliate, or let go of the comments. You have control over how you will teach your body to respond to the comments.
What you focus on in life is up to you. No one can change your focus if you do not allow them to. Your focus, much more than your circumstance, will influence how much you enjoy life. What we do with the time that we have power over will further influence our enjoyment in life.
You have power over who you love and who you do not love. It is a feeling and a view that you generate inside of you. You can choose to harbor resentment. You can choose to retaliate with anger. You can choose to retaliate with love.
Your spouse has the right to feel differently than you do. Your emotions do not depend on your spouse’s emotion. You do not have to work at making your spouse into a better person in order for you to feel better. Your spouse’s pain is their own. You can comfort them without having to become depressed or anxious yourself. You can be sorrowful for their pain and while not despairing. They can comfort you in your sadness and still feel happy about their day.
How much hate you are willing tolerate from your spouse is up to you. You do not have to listen to hurtful words. You can leave the room. You do not have be physically harmed. You can leave the relationship. You do not have to do more than you are physically and mentally able. You can pause.
Your spouse is not going to have the same work ethic as you. You will be different. Let go of measuring fairness in a relationship. It will only cause grief. Let go of trying to measure up. You will likely never reach the finish line, because it will keep moving. Let go of trying to make your spouse measure up. Focusing on what isn’t present instead of what is present brings misery.
Forcing or coercing your spouse to show more love will not result in you feeling more love. Coerced love feels empty. Your spouse will use their own way to show love. Affirming your spouse’s attempts to show love lets your spouse know the attempts are appreciated. Waiting for your spouse to become proficient in your favorite method of receiving love, before you permit yourself to enjoy the attempts, will result in misery. An Englishman who is learning to speak Chinese, still speaks English.
Expressions of love are one person letting the other person know that they are valued. Your spouse is not going to value someone who points out their faults in a mean way. Your spouse is not going to value someone who doesn’t appreciate their efforts. Your spouse is not going to value someone who belittles them. Pressuring someone to love you often results in the other person withdrawing.
If you want to be valued and you want someone to express that value, be someone who is valuable to that person. A spouse often values the way a person was at the beginning of a relationship. When people meet strangers for the first time; they are considerate, polite, and caring. Kindness is a rare and valuable possession that is often only used to purchase relationships with strangers.
What is a Relationship
Your relationship is what is going on between the two of you. If nothing is going on between you, you currently do not have a relationship. If fighting is going on between you, you have a conflictual relationship. If acts of kindness and appreciation is going on between you, you have a loving relationship. If you only discuss money, you have a financial relationship. If you only talk about chores, you have a house maintenance relationship. If you only talk about kids, you have a parenting relationship. If you actively discuss feelings, emotions, bills, future goals, children, work, religion, health, ect., you have a multifaceted relationship. If your relationship is all talk and no action, you have a conceptual relationship. Your words and actions are half of a relationship that you have 100% control over. You can decide what type of a relationship your half will be. You can decide if your half will exist at all.
What constitutes your relationship is a set of rules, boundaries, markers, guidelines, or beliefs that set you apart from your surroundings and defines your relationship as its own entity. These set of shared values help create the entity. These values can be sexual fidelity, religious beliefs, honesty, kindness, political views, or any number of chosen constituents. A religious or state ceremony helps solidify that a relationship has been constituted. The belief sets of what constitute a relationship often accompanies the organization that the couple chooses to use when participating in the ceremony. A Jewish and a Muslim marriage will have different beliefs about what constitutes the union. An 1800’s and a 1900’s marriage had distinct roles and beliefs that differed from each other.
The boundaries that constitute the marriage structure are often not discussed. One partner often assumes that the other one knows what the boundaries are. Unspoken assumptions can result in confusion and heart ache when infractions are unwittingly made. It is very helpful to discuss openly what boundaries exist in your relationship. Some couples like to retain fidelity to each other in multiple areas. Some couples have very distinct gender roles. Couples have different opinions about finance and time management. If you have different backgrounds, it is important to be open and discuss what type of boundaries you want to have.
Some couples try to create a relationship that is very open. They try to dissolve their boundaries. If you dissolve to many boundaries, it will be hard to distinguish what constitutes your relationship. This can result in misunderstanding about finance and time management. It can cause confusion about expectations. Being too undefined results in extramarital relationships being difficult to distinguish from marital relationships. Being too restrictive results in it being difficult to navigate relationships outside of the marriage.
Your relationship exists because you and your partner created it. You increase it when you put time into talking together, interacting together, planning together, and being together. You decrease it when you decrease interactions. If you want a relationship with someone, interact with them. If you want a happy relationship, spend time being happy. If you want a deep relationship, do something deep. Your relationship is created, defined, or halted every minute of every day.
What a Relationship Cannot Do
A relationship cannot turn you into anything. The relationship is built up or deteriorated daily by you and your partner. A relationship is subject to you. The relationship exists because you make it so. You formulate it through maintaining promises, contracts, covenants, 3rd party agreements, and conceptualizations. You, your partner, and 3rd parties that comprise the relationship have power over the entity. The entity itself does not use you. You use it.
Third Party Involvement
Many people choose to involve a third party in the formation of their relationship. The third party can be a government entity, religious organization, Deity, or something else. The third party has binding rules that help shape and govern what the entities boundaries and purpose is. The rules make it harder to leave the relationship. These binding properties can make the commitment of getting into the relationship stronger.
What Can You Do With a Relationship
A relationship is a bond that you make with someone else. The bonds are created and maintained by you. Bonds that are built out of affirmations, kindness, gentleness, meekness, and love feel great. These bonds feel comforting. Bonds that are built on anger, accusations, animosity, and lies feel horrible. The bonds feel like uncertainty. A relationship can be your home or it can be your prison. It all depends on the words that you speak and the actions you take. You have control over your half of the relationship. If you want to feel comfort in your relationship, change your half. Don’t wait for the other half to change you.