I like how marriage has progressed. It used to be considerably more transactional, with people marrying for a variety of reasons including financial gain, social status, or the birth of children, but nowadays, many marry for far more noble reasons. More and more people are marrying with the goal of finding long-term love and friendship.
Unfortunately, too many women I know marry and expect their husbands to make them happy, sometimes unknowingly. When things get tough — and they always do — instead of looking inward to see where they could be at fault, too many women blame their partners.
They hold him (or her) responsible for their relationship’s issues. “Our marriage would be fantastic if he would simply pay more attention to me!” or “Things would be so much better if she would just help more around the house.”
These women, frustrated and hurt, add to the problems in their relationships by condemning and criticizing their partners. They withdraw and withhold sex, affection, and attention as the punishment escalates.
“He’s capable of preparing his own dinner!”
“Until he apologizes, I’m not having sex with him again!”
“I don’t care if his clothes mildew in the washing machine!”
“I couldn’t care less what he does. I’m correct, and he’s incorrect!”
While their relationship falters, many women sit there in judgment and righteousness. They seek a near-perfect reflection of themselves, someone who agrees with them and acts in the manner in which they desire.
In their relationships, these women let their hurt and rage run roughshod over them. Small grudges develop into poisoned darts. Dishfighting has reached biblical proportions.
But the fights are almost never really about the dishes.
They’re about not being cared for, being exploited, and not being heard or seen. They simply do not believe their partner loves or appreciates them enough.
Too often, these women — even the strongest, sharpest, and most self-reliant among them — feel that if they inflict enough agony or exert enough control over their partners, they will suddenly change their minds. In most cases, however, the opposite occurs.
They do the exact opposite because they don’t feel loved enough and are tired of being nagged, controlled, and chastised. They recede and become deafeningly deafeningly deaf And the drama and dysfunctional loop continues to grow more violent and lengthy.
It gets uglier and more agonizing as time goes on.
It reminds me of that old proverbial bumper sticker: The beatings will continue until morale has been restored.
In a good relationship based on trust and safety, treating someone badly will never get you what you want.
You have the ability to fight. You have the ability to yell. You have the option of withholding. You can sit there in your self-righteousness and judgment, replaying the narrative in your head about how you’re right and he’s wrong, wrong, wrong. He’s such a self-centered jerk. An annoyance to be around. A callous egomaniac.
But let me ask you a question: how’s it going for you?
Is it ever true that this gets you what you want?
I’m all too familiar with this harmful, dysfunctional pattern. I used to be that woman who felt betrayed, resentful, invisible, and unheard. My husband didn’t seem to love me enough, either.
What exactly did I do? I admit that I did some insane stuff in the past. And it’s a load of nonsense.
Why did I think that punishing my husband by avoiding him and nursing resentments would ever bring me what I wanted? How could I believe that punishing him and withdrawing from him would result in my receiving more love, attention, admiration, and affection? It’s insane. It’s a form of self-destructive behavior.
Why do so many of us do this? Why do you do this?
Ladies, if you want to be happy in your marriage, make it your job to make your husband (or wife) happy.
Stop waiting for someone else to go first, to take care of your pains, to love you completely, to make you happy, or — God forbid — to “complete” you.
I was brought to my knees by my marriage. I was with someone who was bright, generous, humorous, charming, and many other qualities. But, Jesus, how we irritated each other. As a result, the agony I felt in our relationship was unbearable.
I came to the ultimate possible conclusion after finally finding out that punishing him for my pain gave me the exact opposite of what I desired. I made the decision that I needed to make a change. I resolved to practice more compassion and gentleness rather than condemnation and punishment.
I resolved to do everything in my power to make him happy and to nourish and grow our relationship.
“Trying to alter another person is an act of aggression,” one of my mentors, David Bell, once said to me. It is an act of love to try to alter yourself.”
It took me a long time to realize this and put it into practice.
I’ve realized that love begins with me. And it’s really changed my life.
I made the decision to invest 100 percent of myself in our relationship rather than keeping score or waiting for love to come to me. I decided to quit relying on others to make me happy.
As a result, everything that has happened has been fantastic. I began prioritizing my husband, touching him on a regular basis (holding his hand, sitting very close to him, hugging him, rubbing his shoulders, etc. ), actively praising and appreciating him, and — most importantly — not allowing my ego to get the best of me and my need to be right lead to Armageddon. As a result, I’ve been able to draw the best out of my hubby.
Our relationship has become light years better, and I feel much happier and more empowered.
Now, if you actually make it your mission to make your spouse happy and he (or she) exploits your efforts or never fully reciprocates — never meeting your love with love — you may be facing a deal-breaker situation. Despite your best efforts, you may be in a relationship with someone who is incapable or unwilling to love you back, and you will most likely need to end it.
I’ve written a book about the tragic drama of my marriage and how we overcame it in a beautiful way. Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love is the title of the book.
Radical Acceptance can revolutionize your relationship if you’re prepared to put in the effort and love; if you’re willing to open your heart and mind to the thought that love begins with you and it’s your job to make someone else happy.