The essence of the word marriage has to be the beginning of this conversation. A few definitions of “marriage” is as follows:
Wikipedia states that “Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found.” It also goes on to state that “every known society has had some form of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Edvard Westermarck defined marriage in his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), as “a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring.”
Whether we use those definitions or not, I’m quite sure that all definitions have a key component which is that marriage is a union of two separate people.
The significance of “two” carries with it an unspoken language of the uniting with unselfish equality to create “one” strong bond. Notice that I did not say it created “one” strong person. The oneness is in the bond of two people that are united in purpose.
One “overall” purpose.
Let that soak into your gray matter for a second.
The second is up! It soaked long enough. Let’s move on because we still have the main subject to discuss.
A couple gets married and the fairy tale is still in full swing when suddenly a problem arises. Not just any problem, but a huge mountain in the middle of the bicycle trail. Then it starts snowing on the mountain and before long, there is an avalanche. That is how it feels when one problem after the next seems to come between the marriage partnership and communication. If a mutually satisfying solution can not be obtained, a sense of hopelessness pervades and that leads to feeling trapped.
Not only is your mind stuck in the jaws of unhappiness, so is your body and soul. Life continues, but the relationship is on continual pause because there is not a resolution to the problem. It is not impossible to reach a mutual decision, however, it takes two working through the muck.
Not just one.
I can hear you now…”Yeah, but…”
There is no “buts” because if you want the marriage to be a partnership, it begins with two people willing to communicate.
Here are a few pointers to help in overcoming the trapped feelings through conflict resolution.
- Approach – This is not a war. Remember that you joined the marriage with excitement, anticipation and joy at the prospect of sharing your lives.
- Distraction – Keep the location for the discussion private and in a peaceful atmosphere. The center of an amusement park would definitely be a poor location.
- Respect – Always speak to one another with respect not only in words, but also body language. Also, respect your partner’s point of view.
- Take turns speaking – If necessary, use the spoon method. Don’t interrupt.
- Perspective – Recognize that the hopelessness comes from unresolved problems and hurt feelings. Try walking in their shoes to see life with you from your spouse’s point of view.
- Ensure understanding – Restate what the other person says in different words and ask for clarification if anything remains fuzzy. Alternately, willingly clarify the thoughts you are trying to convey. Keep in mind that you are trying to dispel the feelings of being trapped in the marriage, so helping the other person understand your intentions and motivations is mandatory if saving the marriage is really your goal.
- State the conflict – Be direct and clear with the explanation of the reasons you feel trapped and/or unhappy in the marriage. Write them down in bullet form so that your spouse can read the list. Short, sweet Berger dots on an index card will dispel the wordiness.
- Accountability – Take accountability for your part in the problem. Ask and give forgiveness. Unwillingness to do either is simply stating without words that the marriage does not hold value to you.
- Solutions with options – Brainstorm for solutions to the problems.
- Mutual agreement – Agree on trying a few of the options for resolution. Be willing to bend and compromise in order to find a solution. It’s not a perfect world and neither are you, so don’t expect a perfect solution.
Marriage is not a trap. Unselfishly solving your problems will lead to the happiness you both sought by entering into the union.
Only Cinderella had a perfect marriage.
Getting back to scrubbing the floors now,