John Curtis, Ph.D.
Marriage advice for how to be happy together. One of the things that is important in a relationship is to help each other grow and change over time. If you personally change, your partner may soon change as well. One person who is committed to improving their relationship, can make a big difference.
It’s a perplexing paradox that one of the things that we hear a lot of times in literature, poems, and songs is to accept your partner the way that they are. At the same time, I think, personally, that one of the things that is important in a relationship is to help each other grow and change over time. It’s kind of confusing. Are you going to help each other grow, or am you supposed to accept your partner the way they are?
There are some things that may be obvious. Your spouse is a non-smoker, and you’re a smoker. One of their goals might be to help you stop smoking. It’s unhealthy. It may kill you. You’ll die prematurely, leaving your spouse a widow or widower. So, changing behaviors like that are pretty obvious.
More subtly, though, it may be trying something that you really like, you really enjoy, and you want your partner to join in with you and really get involved in that situation. I knew a couple where she was a triathlete and was trying to get him to participate in that kind of thing. That proved to be a real challenge. This goes back to knowing the person you’re marrying and understanding their values when you met them early on. Were they physically active? Did you meet them at the gym? Did you work out together? Then, the odds are, they value physical exercise. But were you a jogger, physically active, and they were a couch potato? Trying to get them to change into your routine is going to be perhaps more challenging, if not impossible.
The most important thing, though, is in America today, there’s so much emphasis out there on trying to find the right person. You can get a book about looking for what you want. You can go to a website and look for criteria. That’s a lot easier to do in many cases because it’s out there. It’s outside of you. You don’t have to look inside of yourself. Well, that’s a flawed strategy. The number one thing you need to do is work on is YOU being the right person.
So make sure that you’re healthy, you’re happy, you’re emotionally stable, you’re intellectually growing, and you’re physically fit. Work on being those kinds of things, and you’re much more likely to attract that kind of person. So if you’re concerned about spirituality, if you’re concerned about intellectual growth, physical activity, or emotional health, just being those things, it greatly increases the likelihood that you’re going to have a very appealing effect on other people, or you’re going to attract somebody like that to you. So the focus again is to be the right person, rather than trying to find the right person.
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