Good Marriage Advice
My advice (in a nutshell) on how to have a happy marriage:
“A good marriage is built on helping each other out.”
Now I know this advice may sound a tad twee, but in practice it’s not as easy as it sounds.
There are definitely right and a wrong ways to ‘help out’ and so here is an example of how my recipe for a happy marriage plays out …
When I was a teenager I had a boyfriend with grandparents who had settled in Australia as refugees after the second world war.
His grandparents had been aristocracy in Europe, but lost all of their possessions in the bombing of Dresden at the very end of the war. Luckily they escaped with their lives and a little money, but not much else.
Settling in Australia, my friend’s Grandmother soon learned how to cook, clean and drive, all of which she had never done before.
Meanwhile, her husband continued his studies (mostly following his own whims) believing he still had the right to live like an aristocrat.
Even worse, rather than appreciate his wife’s efforts to maintain his lifestyle, he soon came to see her as a servant, refusing to speak to her as an equal any more.
Soon their money ran out and she went to work to support them both and their small child (who grew up to became nearly as spoilt as her father).
This story is an example of how helping someone out in the wrong way is NOT good marriage advice.
Because the kind of help she gave really didn’t help him at all. Instead this wife only fed and maintained her husbands false pride.
I often see parents make this mistake with their children:
Parents who slave at jobs they despise (often doing work they feel to be unethical), to send their children to expensive schools where their kids are made monsters by being taught they are superior to other people.
Okay so that is a different subject and one I will write more on soon (the narcissism of our education system), but now let’s get back to my recipe for a happy marriage.
The right kind of help first involves you figuring out what makes your spouse feel helpless or inadequate and helps them get that problem under control.
For instance – instead of my friend’s grandmother taking care of her husband’s every need, she might instead have found the courage to truly help him out.
She might have said tenderly, “Come now and put those books away for good – this is a new life we are beginning now. There’s a man arriving soon who’s going to help you find work to provide for us.”
Or in my own past situation with Steve, I began helping when I said, “Come and let me help you get your tax and financial records sorted out, because I see the stress of that is destroying you.”
This kind of help is NOT about doing things for your partner trying to get them to love you in return. (That kind of “strings attached help” is very transparent and rather than appreciate it, your partner will probably see it for what it is).
The recipe for a happy marriage:
Instead your aim should be to genuinely help with the problems that most damage your partner’s self esteem. This in turn will begin to ease their stress – so hopefully they can become more productive and useful to your family. This kind of unselfish help nurtures friendship and is the recipe for a happy marriage based on self worth and good self esteem.
Finding the right way to help isn’t always easy:
The trick is to look at your partner’s developmental gaps to find what is causing the most stress in their life. For instance, if an adult has trouble reading, good marriage advice may be helping them find the courage to tackle their literacy skills.
Gaps come in all shapes and sizes and so to help you discover the developmental gaps in both your partner and yourself, we developed the gap finder exercises in The Love Safety Net Workbook.
Chock full of exercises and advice on how to have a happy marriage, The Love Safety Net Workbook has helped thousands of couples (many facing complete family breakdown) discover the same great relationship rapport that Steve and I now share.
Deciding to help your partner if they have spent years neglecting or abusing you can be difficult. It is a mindset however that is really worth developing and in my own life that new mindset has become the difference between heaven and hell.