Archives for posts with tag: Horse & carriage

After listening to yet another couple go hammer and tongs at each other in my rooms, I am about to pull my hair out!
Love…what’s that got to do with it! Of course they all confess their undying love for each other, they just can’t like each other or live with each other! Can’t live together, can’t live apart. They need the adrenalin rush that comes from abusing each other! They have the bull be the udder! They cannot grasp that marriage has nothing to do with falling in love or with maintaining an on-going ethos of romanticism.

It’s hard bloody work! It’s about learning to communicate in a clear, unambiguous, congruent, open, honest manner.
Think well before you speak, you obviously cannot retract your ill advised, hastily spoken words. Learn to phrase your thoughts and feelings carefully. Express them at an appropriate time and place. Ask for feedback and give feedback. Be willing to rephrase comments in a more palatable form. Above all, listen to each other intently.
Listen to the meaning as well as the words. Be attentive, focus fully on your partner thus showing your willingness to understand.

Stop all bad behavior! Stop attacking, stop blaming, stop all hair trigger reactions, stop accusing, stop shouting. Take responsibility where it is appropriate. Apologise where appropriate. Forgive and forget past hurts. Move on, do not keep digging up the past. Start a new way of interacting based on mutual respect, compassion, integrity, self-sacrifice, humility, honour. Marriage is about living together in a supportive, caring and nurturing way. Don’t even talk about love if you have not learned to do these things.

I have just finished reading Alain de Botton’s second novel, The Course of Love. In this very helpful and insightful book, Alain says that because of our obsession with romantic love we insist that compatibility must precede love. He believes that we are “putting the cart before the horse”; love should precede compatibility. No one can be instantly compatible with another. Rather, compatibility is achieved slowly, sometimes over many years, as a couple learn to be kind to each other, accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses and become sympathetic to each other’s needs.

I found this understanding of marriage very helpful; it emphasizes the old adage “a couple must work at their marriage”. No two people are the same and living with one partner for life is a tall order. It can only be accomplished if the institution of marriage is valued above the selfish desires of the individual. Marriage demands the sacrifice of some personal goals in order to build a safe, stable and nurturing relationship. In addition, we cannot expect to have everything our own way, neither can we expect to be molly coddled like small children.

Marriage is, of course, a complex thing and every expert (and every married person) has his or her theories. Alain comments that marriage is such a demanding relationship that it is probably something that you shouldn’t wish on your worst enemy…fair enough, however, we do not appear to have found a satisfactory alternative!
My personal opinion is that personality types do play a big role and that is something that we cannot readily change. So it is important to try to find a partner whose personality is “compatible” with our own.

Alain submits that being married to an opposite is a worthy challenge; there is a healthy complementarity and it is character building to learn to adapt to a different way of being.