A healthy marriage perspective is important in maintaining a happy relationship. Recently, I heard a man use the all too common phrase “the old ball n’ chain” in reference to his wife. Oh, how damaging this phrase can be.
While at times, this phrase may seem to accurately describe the feeling of being tied down, held back, or limited in freedom by our spouse, in reality, it is quite false. The first inaccuracy is that it likens your spouse (a living breathing human being) to an inanimate object with no will of its own. A second inaccuracy is assuming that you are attached to this object by a shackle to which you have no key. Any marriage perspective that dehumanizes your spouse and removes your personal accountability is bound to damage the relationship.
It would serve you well to remember, and reinforce through your thoughts and actions, that your spouse is not an object. Your spouse is in fact a person just like you, who, rather than deliberately anchoring you to the ground is simply striving to live his/her own life. Any resistance you feel on your end is felt equally on your spouses end. Additionally, whether you realize it or not, the shackle was not forced upon you as a punishment. You chose to bind yourself to your spouse and you still have the key. Ultimately, remaining with your spouse is your choice so take accountability for that. Humanizing your spouse and retaining your personal accountability in these ways will certainly strengthen your relationship.
I propose, that in order to reinforce a healthy marriage perspective, adopt a more accurate analogy. For example, how might things be different if you were to replace the notion of being attached to a ball and chain with the thought of you being two mountain climbers. As you and your spouse navigate the rocky and ice-covered paths of life, you have chosen to bind yourselves together with a rope for safety. If you feel resistance from the other end of the rope, it means your partner is stuck and needs help, or that they view the path differently than you and feel that a course correction is in order. Either way, if there is resistance, it means that you get to pay more attention to your spouse and consider his/her thoughts, feelings, and needs as you press forward on your journey together.
With this healthy marriage perspective you will find that there is no mountain you can’t climb together.
I imagine you are visiting this blog because you are looking for opportunities to improve your marriage or committed relationship. Somehow, your relationship has degraded from a state of safety and commitment to a state of pain and waivering devotion. Have the stars conspired against you? Are you destined to be miserable? My answer for you is a resounding NO.
At LIFE Marriage retreats we teach many principles. A few of them encompass our freedom to choose. Whatever state your relationship is in, we can help, but more importantly, you can help by choosing to bring happiness into your life.
Martin Seligman, author of “Authentic Happiness,” describes Hedonics as the study of how we feel from moment to moment. Those called hedonists go to extremes actively seeking to experience as many “good” or pleasurable moments as possible while keeping “bad” or painful moments to a minimum. By definition the quality of a hedonistic life can be determined by the simple equation of the quantity of good moments minus the quantity of bad moments.
Dr. Seligman reminds us that one need not be a self-proclaimed hedonist to seek after this goal; most of us are sometimes apt to keep some sort of running total in our heads that informs us of the relative “goodness” or “badness” of our lives at any given moment.
As we grow toward wisdom we finally discover that hedonism and its supposed connection to happiness is a fallacy. Not only does it direct our attention downward to transitory experience, away from the horizon of possibility and joy, in many it creates an insatiable hunger for one isolated pleasurable incident after another, as well as a deep abhorrence for the requisite, and often uncomfortable, stretching and refining process of meaningful growth and learning, especially that associated with marriage.
Please do not misunderstand. My primary goal in life as I began my second journey and quest for relationship growth years ago was the achievement of happiness and joy, and so it remains. I have no desire to pursue the path of the monk or a life defined by some supposed ennobling misery.
As I worked to bring true principles to my center something became abundantly clear to me. True joy and happiness can be felt even in the midst of disappointment and grief. When I live my life according to true principles it’s as if there is a beautiful rainbow that arches overhead; if I keep my eyes on that rainbow of hope and truth, my joy and fulfillment remain firm even as I deal with the inevitable setbacks and disappointments that life brings.
This is a far greater path than hedonism and its rollercoaster of pleasure and pain. This is a gift beyond any calculation. Think of it! To always feel a sense of security; to always know that life and joy-giving light is available to us. To understand that while we will certainly shed tears on this path of life, nothing need ever deny of us of the legacy of true joy that is rightfully ours.
Since true happiness and joy require a level of sacrifice and refining of our hearts and souls, the hedonist will often become lost in seeking pleasure which can be engineered on the physical level by simply stimulating the brain’s pleasure center.Inevitably their self-centered search will lead them to substances and behaviors that will create distance in their relationships and often bring them into direct conflict with their spouse. What they fail to realize is the eternal truth that Happiness is greater than Pleasure and Joy is greater than Happiness.
I’ll take joy every time.