The notion that marriage is a way to achieve fulfillment is relatively new. For a long time, people married out of economic necessity and to have children. Now, many people think of it as a road to personal satisfaction.
Many complaints about marriage go something like this: "I am not happy with him anymore. I don't feel fulfilled." Such complaints are a result of overblown and misguided expectations.
You may see signs that this myth is interfering with a marriage. One is when a partner says, "If you loved me you would ... (check the choice or choices that apply):
- Spend more time with my family
- Make love to me more often
- Take the vacation that I want
- Not criticize me so much
- Do more household chores
The message here is, "You don't love me unless you do exactly what I want."
There is also a flip side to this myth that shows up when one partner demands that the other accept his love on faith — even when his words and actions convey the opposite message.
If, for example, your spouse complains because you forgot her birthday, it's not enough to say, "Don't you know I love you?" There is no justification for expecting our partners to forgive our thoughtlessness by simply declaring our love. What that amounts to is just another way of manipulating the situation so you can have things exactly as you please.
All of us have a right to want our needs fulfilled, but it's important to be realistic. Even in the best of marriages, a spouse can provide just so much fulfillment. The rest may have to come from children, from work, from the pursuit of various interests, or from within.
Excerpted from Making Marriage Work For Dummies™, published by Wiley Publishing Inc.
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