Setting standards in marriage for peaceful coexistence
Every time we discuss her divorce, Brenda says that her marriage failed because her expectations were too high. Brenda had always admired the way her dad treated her mum, while growing up.
She expected Jeff to be like her dad. Obviously, Jeff was not Brenda’s dad and Brenda was disappointed. At first, she thought that Jeff didn’t love her enough to comply to her wishes.
Years later, it dawned on her that Jeff would never meet her Dad’s standards. By then, the marriage was already on the rocks.
It was a couple of years after the divorce that Brenda realised that her marriage to Jeff was not great, but it was an okay marriage.
It was good enough. Marital experts encourage fighting couples to aim for a good enough marriage and reduce their expectations of each other.
When you expect less, the arguments become less and so do the disappointments. This does not mean that you settle for a mediocre marriage.
It means that you decide on the most important things that you need from your partner, negotiate for these and let the other minor things slides.
Set a standard for how you want to be treated, that is, the level of kindness, love, affection, and respect. Indicate that you will not tolerate emotional or physical abuse.
If loyalty and honesty are important, insist on getting these as well. But don’t expect your relationship to be perfect, without conflict or misunderstanding.
Studies have shown that up to two thirds of the problems in your relationship will never be solved. So, those things you are unhappy about, they are likely to stay. Don’t expect your marriage to heal your emotional wounds and childhood trauma.
If you have self-esteem issues, depression, anxiety or even addiction issues, no bae can heal you. The excitement of the new relationship may distract you from your pain for a while, but when the honeymoon is over, your emotional wounds will still be there. Look for professional help and do the inner work required to heal.
Your hun cannot make your emotional wounds vanish. Remember, they may also be dealing with their own emotional trauma. What does a good enough relationship look like?
When you are in a good enough relationship, you are good friends. You have a satisfying sex life. You trust each other. You are both committed to each other.
You fight fair. You respect each other. You don’t hurt each other intentionally. You affirm each other. You honour each other’s dreams.
You build a life together, with shared values, experiences and goals. These are the basic ingredients for a good enough marriage. Expect them. You deserve it. It is not unreasonable, it is achievable.