Reflection on Marriage

Beautiful wedding couple is enjoying wedding

Marriage is the one thing in our lives that has the greatest positive or negative effect on our well-being, psyche, and success. It impacts all we do. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s probably the hardest thing we do. That’s why I’m addressing it here.

Unfortunately, most of us marry young, before we have much knowledge and experience, not realizing the effect and import marriage will have on our future, and not truly knowing who we are, who we’ll become, or what type of partner we need.

In the US today, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce (to include 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc… marriages). Many more are unhappy or even miserable, yet persevere – let’s say another 40-50%. That leaves a small minority that are actually happy and functioning well.

We tend to blame our spouses for our difficulties in marriage, when most times it is us.

Of course, sometimes, it is our spouse – physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (goes both ways and men can be abused just as easily as women), irresponsibility, unfaithfulness. While we’re on it, unfaithfulness is never excusable. But it is explainable. Outside of sexual addiction, physical unfaithfulness most always results from neglect (emotional unfaithfulness to work, hobbies, tv, etc.. – escape and avoidance) by the other partner. So usually, before one partner cheats physically, the other has “cheated” emotionally – and not necessarily with another person!

When faced with a relational issue, we should always consider our own fault first and foremost. Our bad habits and emotional reactions stem from patterns and core beliefs established and ingrained in childhood – including how we define love, belonging, and success – and it’s usually different from how our spouse defines those things.

The negative way we react to another is usually based on fear. Fear of something – a perceived loss of control or safety, or loneliness, pain, shame, or guilt.

Men are motivated by respect, admiration, and sex. Women are motivated by security and being cherished. When confronted by women, men tend to run away and hide. When faced with a man who hides, women tend to get more aggressive (masculine). This starts the “crazy cycle”.

Men are not attracted to masculine women. Women are not attracted to feminized men. So the loss of passion begins.

Women want and need to be seen, known, loved, and cherished. Men want and need to be recognized, admired, and respected. As men, it’s our responsibility to “man up” and masculinity embrace our woman who is attacking out of a place of fear with strong yet tender love and adoration. Without that, men won’t get respect and admiration. Women have a responsibility to treat their man with respect and admiration. Without that, women will not get love and security.

Men hate women who control, criticize, and hold them in contempt – then men tend to hide and tend towards becoming less masculine/more feminine. Women hate men who don’t see and know them, who won’t lead, won’t stand firm, or who run away and hide – then women tend to become more aggressive and become more masculine. This never works to create a healthy marriage. It is destructive.

The “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” are Criticism, Contempt, Stonewalling, and Defensiveness. Women are usually responsible for the first 2, men for the latter 2. Continued contempt is the nuclear weapon that signals the impending end of a relationship. Women love masculine men. Men love feminine women.

[Compiled from John Gottman, Cloe Madanes, Emerson Eggrichs, John Eldredge, and Tony Robbins….and 20 years of marriage and counseling (others and myself).]