No matter how much we all want our marriages to succeed and thrive, or how many articles and books say otherwise, the truth is that none of us are able to 100% divorce-proof our marriages. Here is why:
1. You are not the only person in your marriage.
I’m not just talking about the spouse. Our lives are an accumulation of the relationships we have by default (family), and the other relationships we choose voluntarily by the company we keep. When you marry, you are marrying into your spouse’s relationships as well. And depending on the value of those relationships you and your spouse carry, any number of these individuals can become hazardous on your marriage. Best friends, close relatives, in-laws, and exes alike all have some sort of pull on the issues your relationship must face. And the truth is you can’t control all the external factors coming into your household. You can however, work with your spouse to set strict rules and guidelines around how the both of you address these influences and to set clear priorities around your shared values.
2. You are not the only person in your marriage
As much as you would like to believe otherwise, you have absolutely no control over your spouse. Marriages are not based on control. They’re based on faith. Faith that the other person will keep their word. Faith that their actions back up their promises. Faith that the person knows himself or herself well enough to effectively communicate their wants and needs to you. Faith that you both place the best interests of the relationship before anything else. There comes a time in every relationship that you have to take the other person’s word for it.
3. You are not the only person in your marriage
You can only control your actions – point, blank, period. People like to give trust away as if it were some genuine virtue to do so. Your trust should be earned. Because as soon as you do embed trust in another, you give them a certain amount of power and influence over your life. Be very careful and cognizant about whom you grant this power to. At the end of the day, you can only control how you react to their actions. The buck stops with you, but in order to be immersed in a truly satisfying and vulnerable relationship, you will need to freely give that trust to someone. No risk, no reward. But you can only control yourself. At the same time, it’s no one else’s responsibility to control you either.
While we cannot affair and divorce-proof our marriages, we would do well to remember that we can drastically reduce the odds for failure by keeping our side of the relationship in good order. Sometimes, there is no “his” and “her” side, and you’ll have to do more than your fair share to support a meaningful relationship. Almost nothing is life is fair – and nothing worth having is easy or simple.
Be aware of your needs. Be aware of your wants. Know the difference. Communicate these with your spouse. Do whatever you can to be on the same page of the same book.
Be happy more often than you are not.
Be in control of your conversations. Be in control of yourself.