After Marriage, Comes What??

(Originally published Summer 2014)

Marriage — a waitress and two bottles of ketchup

Commitment — the ideal, mutually felt, and long-lasting agreement.

— Heather Blackwell

Is it easy to add quality, committed people to your inner circle?

No.

Do most people respect the people within their ‘inner circle’?

Hmm…let’s consider.

Besides our children, it is the ‘significant other’ that people typically disrespect the most, and then parents and then friends and then co-workers and then that guy driving his car too slow in the right lane, “Doesn’t he know the speed limit?!”

You get the picture … back to significant others …

Is it easy to successfully add people to your life?

No.

Why is that?

I think most of you know. The answer is that we take it for granted that this significant person will not only be there to accept the disrespect — they accepted you, they should accept everything you say or do…right?? Wrong — but we believe that they “should” take the disrespect.

The Fallacy of “Should” Statements

*Remember: “should” is a thinking mistake.

When making a “should” statement, ask yourself:

1. Does this person have the experience to know in order to do?
2. Is this person willing to do?
3. Do we have the same expectations?

If the answer to these questions is “no” then he or she “shouldn’t” be doing … whatever it is you think they “should.” (Also…you are not their nanny or mama or daddy, so you don’t get to say what they should do.)

Now, if we can’t disrespect the people closest to us, then who can we disrespect? Of course, I am being sarcastic. You know. I have said it. “No one deserves to be disrespected.”

About Marriage

Let me tell ya. I don’t like the word marriage. It has a negative connotation. I shudder to think of a man asking a woman — or a woman asking a man … or a man asking a man … “Will you marry me?” To this I would reply, “Sure I will … just tell me when we are getting divorced!”

Instead, what I hope you would ask is:

“Will you choose to accept me into your life and, with me, accept the mutual responsibility of a life-long commitment marked by mutual respect and mutual love?

And then do you know what I hope? I hope you “put the ‘pause’ button on” and ask yourselves together:

“Do we know what respect means? Do we understand that we have to be self-respecting before we can respect each other?”

Ask together: “Do we understand that we have to be self-loving before we can love each other?”

Only after you have both communicated the correct response to these questions do I encourage you to answer the initial question regarding life-long, loyal, commitment.

And then do you know what I hope? I hope you will go to someone who is trained to know how to guide you in making sure you know who you are and to guide you in cataloging your list of strengths and weaknesses — not only as a couple. More important, seek help as an individual to learn self-analysis and self-correction, which are the core principles of personal accountability and will ensure life-long pleasure with your significant other.

Now. There are four elements that comprise a successful relationship — whether that is work-related, romantic, or platonic. These elements are the following:

• Compatibility 
• Communication
• Commitment
• Compromise

Commitment

Commitment is a scary word, isn’t it? Do you know why? Because what if I grow tired of being with the same person? What if we fall out of love? Can I truly stay with the same person for a lifetime?

Yes, a lifetime is a mighty long time.

So if you’re going to make a commitment you better make sure you are compatible, you better make sure you are not committing to a disrespectful, an abusive, or a neglectful person, or even a person who does not share your core principles (e.g. outdoor girl vs. indoor boy, Protestant vs. Muslim).

Let me tell you, though. Unless you jump head first and commit to someone after a handful of dates, the warning signs are there.

If the warning signs are there and you lie to yourself that ‘changes in the relationship can be made “after” the commitment is established, then you have doomed yourself to failure, because what the relationship is in the beginning is most likely what it will be in the end. I’m sure there are some miracle cases where he or she found higher power — or something along those lines — but the majority of times it doesn’t happen like that. Last, if you choose to enter a committed relationship with a disrespecting person then it is your responsibility to take, well, personal responsibility for the choice you made. I’m not saying the disrespect is right or that you are responsible for their choices; I’m saying you are responsible for your choices.

Compromise

I have to what?! Oh, yeah, buddy. Compromise.

In what life! In what world do we ever get everything we want when it involves another person — whether that is work-related, romantic, or platonic? We practice diplomacy or our relationships fail; it is that simple.

1. Problem: He wants to watch football; she wants to watch the Lifetime Network.
    Solution: Have sex.

2. Problem: She likes beef; she likes chicken
Solution: Have sex…just kidding. Go out for dinner or cook two separate entrees—either together or alternate cooking schedules … prepare for left-overs.

Those are two examples out of an infinite number of exasperating possibilities. No one said commitment was going to be a bed of roses, so why are you expecting it?

If you can’t handle the four C’s, then don’t enter into a commitment — commit to yourself and get a pet (I have a plant). There’s nothing wrong with living the single life; I’m content with it ….
*Mental note … Need. To. Buy…another plant.

Please observe your circumstances — you, your partner, ideals, desires — before you move forward into a commitment or decide to end a commitment. If you’re in a relationship where nothing is fundamentally wrong — which I define as abuse or neglect — but you’re “just getting bored”, then I say to you, “Stay Committed, because it’s the right thing to do.” You made a promise and what are you worth without your integrity. If the relationship is getting dull, there are ways to make it sparkle again.

Check your actions

• Are your love languages different?
• Are you burned out in another area of your life and not using your partner as a resource for healing?
• Are you taking an emotional problem out on your partner instead of dealing with the emotional problem and moving forward?
• Are expectations not meeting reality?
• Are you not communicating?
• Is it something else? Only you know. Type in and tell me.

Last Thought: Save Your Emotional Money For “Spectacular … Work Included.”

If it doesn’t work out …

…don’t beat yourself up. We live in a world gone awry. Our society doesn’t teach commitment; society teaches self-gratification—here today, gone tomorrow, out with the trash. Pertaining to my failed marital relationship, I made the mistake of ignoring the warning signs; my ex made the mistake of ignoring the warning signs. It seems like everyone saw the warning signs but us. And of course, I made the mental mistake, “Marital Miracle-Solving”, which is the idea that there is a self-correct mechanism after “marriage” has been initiated. BTW: Ketchup bottles empty eventually.

In conclusion, do your best and leave the rest, but most importantly don’t expect your partner to be your source of happiness or security; your happiness and security are waiting to be realized by you.

Last Last Thought: Be Discriminating. Be realistic. Be logical. Be practical. Be self-forgiving and forgiving of your partner. Shoot for the fairytale, and consider that at times you both will act like toads.

Above All…Be committed.

Published by analyticalperspective

Heather Blackwell is a CBT-certified mental health coach and Psychology subject matter expert (SME), dedicated to bringing Psychology insights to the self-help community. She studied two masters degrees in the areas of Forensic Psychology and MFT, and has 15+ years’ experience in behavioral analysis under her skill belt. Her discussion topics include, but are not inclusive to, dating experiences, interpersonal relationships, maladaptive behavioral development, self-identity development, self-help, holistic mind-body health, and nutrition as it applies to mental wellness.

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