Here is a statement that is probably the most important thing you could ever realise about your marriage:
The relationship you have with your spouse or intimate partner is nothing more or less than a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself.
This is a very powerful truth and well worth spending some time to think about. And the more you think about it, the more you will realise that it IS true – IF you also take the time to answer another question, “What do I think about ME?”
Most of us get married or enter into a romantic relationship because of the feelings that being with the other person give us. And we see the story told everywhere you look: boy meets girl, they fall head over heels in love, get married and live happily ever after. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, being happy is exactly the right reason to be in a relationship although it’s surprising how many people lose sight of this. It’s my conviction that if we don’t feel good in our marriage we shouldn’t be there (or at least we shouldn’t leave things as they are and accept the bad feelings without trying to do something about it). But many people stay in a marriage when they don’t even like each other, or when they have terrible problems that they know deep-down can never be solved (or maybe they don’t even WANT to solve them). Many people stay in a marriage hoping things will get better, and they never seem to.
Why is that? Why do people stay in a marriage that makes them miserable? Well there are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is what I’m going to cover in this article.
But the point I’m making is this: being in a marriage is all about the feelings – the GOOD feelings – we get from that interaction with another person. It contributes (or should contribute) to our main purpose for being in this life at all – to be happy. And being happy is the other reason to be here, isn’t it?
However, there’s something else going on when many people enter a marriage or relationship. In fact, I would suggest that it’s happening in the majority of marriages. And that is, people use a marriage or a relationship as a way to ‘fill in’ some deficiencies in their own life.
They don’t feel loved – so they find someone else they hope will love them.
They feel insecure – so they hope that being with someone else will give them security.
They don’t feel good about themselves – so they look for someone else who will feel good about them.
They feel stressed – so they think that sharing their stresses with someone else will reduce their stress.
They don’t have a sense of meaning in their life – so they seek out a relationship, which they think will provide their life with meaning.
They meet someone, “fall in love” and get married, feeling that by doing so they’re going to get rid of the feelings of lack of love, insecurity, feeling bad about themselves, stress and lack of meaning in their life. And guess what? After the initial ‘buzz’ wears off, they find all those feelings that they wanted to get rid of – have come back! So they try to ‘fix’ the marriage (or move on to someone else and repeat the same pattern all over again) when the thing they really needed to “fix” was themselves.
The only place to find love, security, peace and meaning in your life and is within yourself. And you will only attract to you a person who is on the same mental plane as you. So if you want someone to love you, love yourself first. If you want a secure relationship, feel secure within yourself. If you want to feel good about yourself, find out yourself what is good about you (and there is plenty!). And don’t look to your marriage to provide what you can only find alone, which is the meaning and purpose of YOUR life. Sure, your marriage can – and should – CONTRIBUTE to all of these things, but it’s not going to create them. Your marriage won’t make up for things that simply aren’t within you in the first place. In fact, whatever IS inside you – your so-called strengths and your weaknesses – are only going to be amplified by a relationship or marriage.
Those people who have great marriages usually have a high level of self esteem. They feel good about themselves and their life. They also spend time working on themselves and developing their own individual qualities and sense of purpose. And their marriage becomes a reflection and an enhancement of that. THAT’S why their marriage “makes” them happy!
When you don’t need your spouse to make you feel good about yourself, loved, secure or having a meaningful life – when you already have these things – then it frees you to be yourself. Your marriage becomes a place where you WANT to be rather than NEED to be. If you are needy in a relationship, you’re going to drain the positive energy and it will never reach its full potential. The greatest marriages are where the two people are there only because they truly want to be! They can therefore contribute to the marriage without fear or pressure. In this sort of marriage, you never need to ‘work on’ it; after all, how could anything you do for the sheer love of it – that is fun and makes you feel good – be considered ‘work’?
So if you want to create a great marriage relationship – start to create a great relationship with yourself. And if things aren’t right in your marriage – start making them right in yourself first. And there’s a wonderful “double benefit” when you do this. Not only do you create a better marriage with your spouse, but YOU become a better – and happier – person! So get to work on yourself! It’s so worth it.
Creating a better relationship with yourself is one of the things I cover in detail in my marriage programs. If you’d like more on how to do that the details are here: