I once worked at a prestigious hotel where elaborate weddings were the norm. Brides made an entrance from helicopters on the golf course during an extensive fireworks display. Grooms rode in on elephants. The ballrooms sparkled and the food was epic. Those couples put a lot of attention and detail into their weddings, but I wonder how much thought they put into their marriages. I wonder if they were surprised by what they discovered once the honeymoon phase fizzled out. They may have found that marriage isn’t what they thought.
It’s not about your sexual fantasies.
The world went into a tizzy in the 1950s when a young Polish priest wrote that a man should not lust after his wife. This topic is a sore spot for many men—but it’s true. Marriage is not about your wife fulfilling your sexual fantasies on demand. It does not permit you to use her as an object for your sexual pleasure. But it does allow for a deeper bond between spouses. When a man can practice sexual self-control, it can make sex so much better. That same priest also said that climax within marriage should co-occur with spouses. Why? Because marriage is about the couple, especially within sex.
It’s not about you being the breadwinner.
We are past the old stereotype that says the husband goes out and makes the money while his wife stays home and spends it. There may come a time in your marriage when the roles reverse and you will have to rely on your wife to bring home the bacon and eggs. That’s OK. Marriage requires a couple to communicate openly about their finances and doesn’t allow a damaged ego to destroy their bond.
It’s not about your wants and needs.
It’s easy for men to feel frustrated when their wives ask them to drive slower, or spend less time on a hobby, or even scale back on the late-night snacks. Maybe consider that your wife is really trying to communicate her fear of losing you in a reckless crash, or her feeling of disconnection when you spend all your time at the gym, or that she will never follow through on her diet if you won’t do it with her. It’s not about limiting your desires but offering up those desires for the benefit of the other. If both spouses did this, they would fill each other’s wants and needs without creating self-seeking behaviors.
Marriage is not about your passions.
Everyone has passions—things they ecstatically enjoy doing. Many men love sports; some love sports religiously. But your love for sports cannot come before the needs of your wife. A successful marriage is going to call for many missed sporting events or any of your other passions or hobbies. It won’t kill you. Since marriage is about the couple, communicate these passions so your wife can be part of them and so she can understand your genuine love for them.
Marriage is not about your happiness.
You read that right. It’s not about your happiness as an individual. It is about your communal happiness within the marriage. Your wife is going to need you to suffer with her at times when you are joyous. If you are having a great day and she isn’t, she may need to meet you in the middle. But you may need to walk alongside her in empathy. Balance your happiness as a married couple or else you will be in a one-sided relationship with yourself.
Earn some points: Share this iMOM article with your wife and discuss it together: 3 Habits for Maintaining a Healthy Marriage After Kids.
Sound off: What is one thing that has strengthened your marriage?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What are the strongest parts of our marriage and what do you think we need to work on?”