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Marriage is easy…it just takes love. Right?


I never understood what people meant when they said “marriage takes work”.  What were they talking about?

“If their marriage needs ‘work’, I would think to myself, “then clearly they shouldn’t be together”. 

Marriage doesn’t take work, it takes love.  Or so I USED to think.

My husband and I had the perfect marriage.  We were in love, we adored one another, we were physically and sexually attracted to one another, we enjoyed each other’s company, and more than that, we admired one another.  We each saw in the other, things that we admired and appreciated.  We saw each other as capable and recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  We had perfected the dance of marriage, with each of us compensating for the other, stepping up in the areas where the other was weak, and hanging back, when necessary to let the other shine.   It was a dance perfected over time.  If you had asked either of us, in a candid moment, whether we were happily married, we would have said YES unquestionably.  My husband and I would often comment to each other about how lucky we felt to be together.  While friends and acquaintances appeared to be struggling with their partner, we really weren’t.  We would sit and listen to friends complain, “My wife is so controlling”, or “My husband puts me down”, or “My husband never tells me that he listens to me”.  We would remark how unhappy they seemed, and basked in the thought that we were above them, that our marriage was better.  We were, in essence, impermeable to problems.

Sure, our marriage had its problems like all marriages.  We would fight, and I will admit, I am NOT a good fighter.  Fights send me into “Fight or Flight” mode, and I am a expert at the latter.  I flee.  I run.  I hide.  I then pretend like it’s all better, and plead that we not talk about it anymore.  It passes, and we get back on track. Until next time…

Despite the occasional dispute, we really had no complaints.  We didn’t have money problems, he has always been a good provider, a wonderful father, and an exceptional example in his career.  We would sometimes hear of affairs, and it would further reinforce for us our impermeability.  “Well of course he had an affair”, we would think, “they fight all the time and she is all over him like a wet shirt…he needed his breathing room”, or “I just knew she would find someone else to give her the attention he never gave her”.  We would then make the natural comparison to ourselves, and feel reaffirmed that we were better, stronger, impermeable.   My husband has always told me that he loves me.  He tells me often that I am beautiful, sexy, or ‘hot’.  He complements me on my abilities.  He takes me out for nice dinners, and buys me thoughtful gifts without me having to drop hints.  He knows me very well.   How could a marriage like that suffer an affair?  We were, after all, impermeable.

It was that very belief, that very statement that brought us comfort and security that would later to prove to be our greatest downfall.  We thought we were perfect.  We thought our marriage was better than others.  While we may have been right on that last one, it didn’t mean it was perfect, and that it didn’t require work.  But, what does WORK mean in a marriage?  Counselling?  Learning to fight fair?

The very fact that we thought that we were in a great place and impermeable to this problem is the very reason I never looked for the signs.  It was the very reason I had never educated myself on infidelity, even though both my father, and my husband’s father had both cheated in their respective marriages.  It was the reason that when my husband found himself becoming “friends” with his work colleague, that he didn’t put boundaries in place, talk to me, communicate about his feelings, or even second-guess them,  because we were both living under the assumption that it would NEVER HAPPEN TO US.

It was the mistake of our lives.

25 months into my journey to healing from my husband’s affair, I now know many things:

  • Talking does not mean that ‘communication’ took place
  • I have to learn to be a better listener
  • Men and women need to be aware of what makes them vulnerable to an affair, and to put into place safeguards, the largest of which is to communicate with your spouse
  • Couples need to share complete honesty about their past hurts, their childhood scars, and learn more about each other and what has happened to form them the way that they are
  • No matter how long you have been married, and how many times you have said it in the past, every partner needs to know that they are valued and loved, attractive and invigorating, captivating and irresistible.
  • Couples need to schedule time specifically for the purpose of discussing their marriage.
  • Couples need to use this above mentioned time to discuss the ways in which they will continually try and improve it
  • Couples need to build trust with one another, by meeting and sometimes exceeding the needs of their partner.
  • They need to learn to anticipate these needs, and fulfill them before ever being asked, simply because they know one another well enough.
  • Couples need to be  honest with one another about their feelings INSIDE and OUTSIDE the marriage, including their physical attractions to others
  • Couples need to learn to communicate in a way that ensures that their partner feels 500% convinced that they have been heard, and in a way that validates their feelings.
  • Couples need to learn that sometimes, communication is a one way street, and all you need to do on this particular episode is listen and make your partner feel heard.
  • Couples need to have fun together, and to remember that their partner is a fun person, not just the father/mother of their children, and their spouse, but a person with value as well.

Doing the above takes a lot of work.  It takes time, dedication and a willingness to put it together.  It requires scheduling the time together, setting aside other plans, having uncomfortable discussions, facing their own hangups from childhood which impede them from being the spouse that they need to be in order to create a fully functional ‘whole’.

Marriage is HARD.  It isn’t enough to just love one another.  It takes WORK, and I now know what that work is.  It is a constant checking in, a constant re-evaluation of where you stand, and where you wish to be.  It is a work in progress, with each day offering you a new opportunity to overwrite and re-write the formula for your marriage.  That kind of thing doesn’t just happen, and it won’t just magically fall into your lap.  Couples who have great marriages have them because they put the work in, and they recognize when work is needed.  They didn’t just happen.  They aren’t just “the lucky ones”, because luck has little to do with it. They don’t blindly assume that they are impermeable and they take the steps to protect themselves.  They recognize their faults, and that they aren’t perfect spouses.  But they also take the time to try and grow for one another in ways that help their relationship.

In a sense, I guess for me, the word “partner” has taken on a whole new level of meaning.

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Comments

  1. Hi There:
    I was introduced to your site a few days ago…it has taken me that long to read all your posts and comments , I am glad I did.
    I also attended the Healing From Affairs weekend, it was the best thing we could have done. I wish I could say my H came home completely after that…he did not.Brian even had a hard talk with him as to who this woman was that he had gotten involved with…. However ,He was in a dark place for quite some time. So, more time ,pain , lots of money had to go by before he saw….sadly there loss of integrity, loss of lots of money. Lots of horrendous choices made by him. It has made no sense that I stayed but it was pretty clear to me that I was meant to wait. That weekend we did learn a lot…and I learned how to take care of me.
    I would highly recommend that weekend if people can do it.
    ~~ “S”

  2. Hi Rescuing My Marriage, will you be going to the support group on Saturday, May 19th?
    Hope to see you there.

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