You’ve seen the reels on Tik-tok, Instagram, Facebook and all the other apps that tell you what we are and are not going to do in 2023.
This week, I’m here to tell you what we are going to leave behind in order to forge healthy, happy, fulfilling marriages.
The first is self-pity.
What’s this look like?Defensiveness in arguments, playing the victim, and not taking responsibility for what has been said or done. How do we avoid it? Do the opposite, of course! Take responsibility. In an argument, instead of defending all the reasons something was said or done, simply say “yes, I did this and I’m sorry I hurt you.” Later, when sitting down to repair, you can explain your thought process and say “my intention was…”. It’s important to understand here that your intentions can be as good as gold, but the impact can still land wrong and be hurtful, disrespectful, offensive, etc. Your partner may accept your intentions and still not be ok with the way your actions triggered them. That’s something you will have to accept, that you had glorious intentions but they’re mad, upset, frustrated and hurt and will need comfort, an apology and a different approach next time. To stop self-pitying, start realizing that you cannot control everything, but you can control some things- thoughts, words, actions, responses, motivation level and resilience. You are not a victim to your circumstances. It’s not your responsibility how anyone else treats you or treated you growing up, but it is your responsibility to set boundaries, accept the change(s) that need to be made and start making them.
The second marriage saboteur is pride!
Oh yeah, pride is absolutely a last year thing and we are leaving that one way in the past.
I see pride wrecking marriages every single day and it breaks my heart. My husband will admit that he used to have a big issue with pride and ego. I brought it up to him once in an argument. (10/10 do not recommend this strategy, btw.) Of course, he got pissed, denied it, blamed me, blah blah blah. But later he came back to me and basically told me he’d reflected on that statement and realized that he did have a big issue with ego and pride and that’s why he was triggered so heavily when I said it. There was a lot of shame centered around that for him.
Pride is putting what you want above what your partner needs.
You want to go golfing but your partner needs to get work done and doesn’t have a sitter for the kids, but you go golfing anyway.
You walk away because your partner’s emotions are deep and hard for you to comfort.
Your partner worked an 8 hour shift but you worked a 12 hour shift so when you come home, you say that they have 4 more hours of work left to do before you’ll jump in and help out because you’re all about “equality in marriage”.
All of these are examples of pride getting the best of one spouse and all of these are real life examples I’ve seen just this week. You can fill in your own examples but if your marriage is rocky, I will bet dollars to donuts that pride is factor. It must be faced head on, dealt with and changed if you want to move forward in 2023 better than you were in 2022 or before.
The third marriage wrecking ball is blame.
Oof, this is a big one too. You send a text to your husband that says “Hey, can you grab dish soap on your way home please?” He writes back, “Yep, no problem.” But when he gets home, he hands you laundry soap. Still needed and also not helpful in that moment when you’re trying to run dishes in the dishwasher with no soap. So instead of owning up to the mistake, he blames you for not clarifying what soap you needed. Ope! But there it is in blue and white. He’s blaming.
Or maybe you asked him to take the trash out but didn’t specify a time so when he got around to it the next morning, he finds that you’ve already done it. Oh, that’s why you were all huffy before you left for work! When he calls, you blame him for being inconsiderate, forgetful and selfish. When in fact, he didn’t know you needed it done the evening before and truly saw nothing wrong with taking it out on his way out the door the next morning.
See how blame escalates? It hurts our partners so deeply and can lead to a great deal of resentment.
The counter to blame is taking responsibility. Every single argument has both partners playing a part in that conflict. It’s not an all or nothing conversation. So, what was your part in the conflict? How can you own it and change it? What do you need to do to move forward? How can you reword what you want to say so that you aren’t blaming your partner?
The last marriage killer we’ll talk about today is resentment.
That massive elephant in the room, brought up every time you have a conversation, an argument or are dismissed or rejected again. Resentment is a cancer to your marriage. It grows bigger and bigger and eats away at your connection, communication, kills all thoughts of positivity of your spouse and eventually kills your marriage.
It’s safe to say that every couple that comes to me has resentment as an issue. How do you get over it when it feels completely consuming? Talk about it in an assertive way and if you aren’t sure how to do that, there is a workshop called Overcoming Resentment in my monthly membership, Connected. Choose to forgive, choose to respond, greet, speak to your spouse in a loving and kind way even when you don’t feel like it. Choose to capture your negative thoughts about your spouse and change them to positive ones. Choose to be brave and vulnerable, even when it seems hard. Recognize when your partner is being vulnerable with you and validate them. Remember that validation is not agreement. Show up for your marriage and choose to stay committed. I’m reminded of a quote by the great Albus Dumbledore that is perfect for resentment “happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light”.
In 2023, the name of the game is prioritization. Desire finds a way. Indifference finds an excuse. We are prioritizing what we desire changed, what we value, what we want to see growth around. That means kicking these marriage saboteurs to the curb and not letting them back in.