6 min read by Chris Rea:
Did I marry the wrong person?
Ever thought it? You’re not alone, especially if you thought it within the first 6 months of marriage.
For the record, I’m CERTAIN, my wife Megan has never ever pondered this question. (AtLeastNotOutLoud.) But if you have found yourself wondering if you married the wrong person, I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first?
The good news is, you didn’t marry the wrong person. Yay!
And the bad news is…you didn’t marry the wrong person.
So there’s that.
Do you have one of those super terrifying magnifying mirrors in your bathroom? The ones that allow you to see yourself 10x closer? You use them for plucking eyebrows or trimming nose hairs and other such necessary grooming. When you look at yourself in those mirrors what happens? ( i mean other than being slightly horrified.) All of the imperfections on your face get magnified. It’s “helpful,” but it’s also just uncomfortable enough to make you never want to get that close again.
Relationships can be like that. Everything can look nearly perfect from the distance dating provides. But over time, you get married, you start living in the same house and you run into conflict because when we get up close & personal to anything you begin to see the flaws.
I remember when I would to pick Megan up for a date…
I would pull up to her house, knock on the door, talk with her dad for a few minutes and then she would be ready. She would walk out of her room looking and smelling amazing! I thought it was cute that she was always running a few minutes late because she wanted to look especially good for me.
Then we got married.
I quickly realized in our 1 bathroom 800 sq. ft house what all went into a female getting ready. I didn’t have any sisters. So seeing the dozens of products taking up every square inch of our teeny tiny medicine cabinet was shocking.
Then, there were her shoes. Her purses. And all these little things that took over most of our closet space.
I didn’t understand most of them, but I did understand that perfecting the perfect balance of them for each outfit made us chronically 15 minutes late. Not to mention, it looked like a tsunami hit our bedroom by the time she was all said and done.
While we were dating I never saw the “behind the scenes.”
I thought all her little quirks were cute. Charming even. But the closer I got, once we shared a space, it didn’t seem so cute anymore.
And I’m sure she had a few “eye-opening” experiences she could share too.
But the truth is, I didn’t marry the wrong person and neither did you.
Any person you marry, live with, and look at closely enough has flaws. No one is perfect. Take that scary-close-up mirror to anyone’s face and you’ll get a little turned off by what you see.
That’s why people get in that vicious cycle of “get married, get divorced, get married, get divorced.” They are looking for that perfect flawless person.
Sorry folks, they don’t exist.
So what’s the solution when you’re frustrated in your marriage?
1. Learn to communicate better & then actually do it
Healthy communication happens when we can be both direct and kind about what we wish we had more of our less of in a relationship. There’s a big difference between control and direct communication. Control is trying to shape a person into what your ideal spouse looks like.
Having assertive and direct communication allows your spouse to hear your heart on what you think you need more of or less of in the relationship.
Here’s an example:
Megan says to me:
“I wish we went on more date nights together. If we did, I would feel more connected to you.”
Now, my first response would be to get defensive and say things like, I don’t get how you can feel that way. We have dinner just about every night together. I took you out last Thursday, we went for a walk yesterday. All we do is go on dates!
However, wisdom has taught me to ignore the defensive guy in my head. Because Megan had the courage to talk with me about something that is bothering her. It took a lot for her to bring it up and she doesn’t want to hurt me. She loves me.
When you take a deeper look, she isn’t communicating a flaw in me. She is simply saying she doesn’t feel connected to me.
We get defensive because we think our spouse is being critical. Once we get past the surface, that isn’t the heart at all. It isn’t about our shortcomings. It is about them wanting to have more or less of something in the relationship.
Fight defensive guy. Take a deep breath. Listen. And then respond.
Now that I’m 17 years into marriage and have learned to communicate, my “typical” response to Megan would be this:
“Meg, I am so sorry you don’t feel connected to me right now. I really want to work harder on feeling connected to you too. Let’s put a date night on the calendar for sometime this week.”
Problem solved without starting world war 3. That’s a win.
2. Remind yourself: Your spouse is a good catch
When you start seeing all of the “close-ups” and flaws that come with the territory of living with each other, you can forget all of the amazing things about that person. It’s easy to look past all of their strengths and the things that drew you to them in the first place.
But when you begin to focus on their strengths, you can then tolerate the other stuff a lot easier. For instance, I know that Megan can turn the house upside down when getting ready. And I know at times, she runs fashionably late for things.
But I’ve also chosen to ask myself this question. “Why does she do that?”
My wife runs fashionably late because she is constantly working, reloading the dishwater, writing, doing laundry, taking a coaching call, grocery shopping and taking care of me. She has so much on her plate! On top of that, she wants to be attractive to me so she eats healthy, exercises, and puts effort into what she looks like. Not because she’s vain but because she’s worth it. She does it all because she loves me!
Sometimes a person’s greatest weakness is also their biggest strength. We just need to change our perspective.
Remind yourself that your spouse is a great catch. Make a list of 5 things you love about your spouse. 5 things that are their strengths. I’m guessing once you start making that list you’ll think of way more than 5.
3. Be grateful
Here’s the thing: you get to do life with a person who is willing to do life with you. Seriously, reverse that mirror and think about your own insecurities, your own flaws. Now think about the fact that your spouse loves you anyway, believes in you and still wants to do life with you.
There are people out there wishing they were married.
There are people who have gotten their heart broken.
People who have gotten rejected.
There are people who have been widowed and wish they could argue with a spouse again.
You get to do life with another human being!
You get to have a physical and emotional relationship! You have someone to hug you and hold your hand. You have someone to be intimate and close with.
Please don’t take that for granted. It’s a gift.
If you are reading this and you’re single and wish you were married, please file this away. Someday you may find yourself married, but kinda wish you weren’t. Bust this out at that time.
So good news and bad news, friend:
You didn’t marry the wrong person. You probably just need a tweak in your communication and perspective.
Answer this one question for me: “What is one step I can take to cherish my spouse today?”
Until next time,
Never miss a single post, subscribe by email. There’s EVEN a free ebook for you when you do!