Lessons on Marriage

Sometimes you learn things after the lesson is over. It took me two divorces to learn about marriage.

If you marry someone who wants to control you, marriage is not going to make it stop. If anything it exacerbates the situation and the other person feels entitled to the control. You are married, and now you belong to them.

My best friend’s dad has been with his girlfriend for twenty years. They don’t live together. They communicate daily and see each other a few times a week. For years I thought there was something wrong. How could such a thing work? Surely there is a problem. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and we all went out to dinner. I don’t see them as much as I used to when we were younger and my friend lived at home with her dad. But seeing them together I realized how much they love each other. Sure they only spend a few days together per week, but when they want they can see each other as often as they please. Their communication is just fine. They share their spaces while also keeping their own, spending time together and then retreating into themselves. They have been happy together for twenty years. I finally understood.

Marriage isn’t about the amount of time you spend with the other person. You can be in the same room with someone and both of you existing in different places.

If someone wants to be with you they will. If they don’t, marriage doesn’t solve or prevent that problem.

There is compromise and then there is losing yourself. I guess this goes with the first thing I said in this post, but it reaches beyond control. This is when you try to placate the other person while slowly erasing yourself. As you give up more and more and witness the joy of your spouse, you believe it is for the best. Until you are briefly reminded of those things you once were. But you can’t have both. Marrying someone who doesn’t like you the way you are is eventually going to break the marriage.

While a big part of marriage is love, a large part of love is like. You can’t really stay in love with someone you don’t like. And you can’t stay married to someone you don’t love.

Letting your spouse talk you into giving up your dreams only leads to resentment, especially if you had those dreams before you met your spouse.

Marrying someone you are not physically attracted to creates a whole different set of problems. Yes, this sounds shallow, but if you have to be dragged into the bedroom every night on the verge of tears, one of you will eventually end up on the couch.

All of these points sound like common sense. Except, surprisingly, they are not. And sadly they are not things you can learn outside of experience.

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