I just read an incredible post by Seth Adam Smith about "Why Marriage Is Not For You." At first, I was not sure where he was going, thinking perhaps he would answer that question for me.. why my marriages failed and what was wrong with me. Perhaps I was just meant to be a lone wolf.
Take a moment and read his article.
He hit the nail on the head.
Marriage is not about you or for you. It's for the other person.
When I married Chris, I married him for the wrong reasons. I was 27, sort of tired of dating, and I thought he was basically a good man. He could fix things, he was a great cook, he was funny, and came from a wonderful family. I thought to myself.. "Okay, I can make this work." '
I liked him a lot. Note I did not say love. He was the one who was always showering me with the "L" word, and though I would repeat it, I never really felt it. As our relationship went on (8 years,) little things came up that made me realize he was not as "good a man" as I once thought. 9 different jobs in 8 years, most resulting in failed drug tests. He would go to his best friends house on any given night only to return at 4, 5, or 6am. (Yeah.. right.) I was not attracted to him, and neither of us were really living for the other. I created a life that I liked - I had my circle of friends, my exchange students, my clubs, my job - I stayed really busy. He had his life. Finally we called it quits - and that was that.
My second marriage was different. I married the egyptian in my mid 30s and we remained together for seven years - living together for 4 of those years in America. I was in love with him in every sense of the word. I was incredibly attracted to him, I respected him, I could not find a single thing wrong with him.
He came to America and of course went through an adjustment phase. I knew it would be rough, since I hosted all of those students, I know it takes some time. He did finally adjust, but once the dust settled, he looked at me and realized I could not make him happy. Now, I lived FOR him. I did everything I could to make HIM happy. My friends would often ask why I was paying the bills for him, or why was I dropping everything I wanted to do to help him... but I did it because I loved him and I wanted to make my husband happy.
But herein lies the problem - it takes two. I was doing all of the work.. and he was checking out.
When I go back to Seth's article, it makes complete sense what went wrong. The problem we had was that only one was trying to live for the other, and it simply can't work that way. If you asked him today, he would tell you that I am a great person, but he just could not live with me. Why? Because he chose not to accept me for me. When I accepted his flaws and all.
The single biggest piece of advice in the article follows:
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me.
With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So
I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her
laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family
wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I
had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I
wanted to build our own family.
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against
the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about
the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their
dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks,
“What can I give?”
So ask yourself in your current relationship or for the future - "WHAT CAN I GIVE?"