Do you Want to have a Happy Marriage?
In life, we are always learning how to do relationships better. Is a constant process… and we can never be completely sure that we do it to the complete satisfaction of the person we relate to. In short, being happy in a relationship is a moving target, and we can aspire only to a decent average of happy days, and some percentage of painful opportunities to learn something about ourselves.
Today I want to comment in an old idea of mine, coming from way back in my life. When I was just married, and facing the adjustment to a different form of life for me, with a person not of my tribe, but from a different family, I was confused and only catching up. Too many things to learn simultaneously, from being away and independent from my parents, to working on developing a new partnership with my husband. All the time, being painfully ignorant and having no coaching from grown up female friends…
Anyhow, things were not going well. We were very poor, and I had the task of dividing the little money of his salary into envelopes with names like: electric bill, rent, grocery store…and splitting the money in each envelope as to cover four weeks. Of course, there were more weeks than money, so we would end up having pasta dinners 3 days in a row…last night with oil, because all the money for butter was gone. Nevertheless, I was proud of my budding money management skills,when I was told that our household now owned a new motorbike! I do remember my shock: where the monthly payments will come from? there were no more envelopes with “spare money to spend” around!
My brain came up with this bright idea: we needed to have monthly management meetings! we needed to have a shared plan….I clearly needed to feel equally invited to make decisions in our family; I wanted to have a say in planning the financial future of our small but growing family…I was having a clear idea of my role as an equal member of the marriage, and I wanted to be equal from the beginning!
There was a plan: we would get together, no distractions, for one hour, and the agenda was to check how we were spending our income, and how to improve decisions about choosing needed thins, or things that would enrich our lives, and how to save for the future. Not bad, for me being 21 years old…I even wrote a short article about my method for a parents’ magazine.
Of course, you now suspect two things: that I was not going to be the new, shiny motorbike user (of course!) but also that my monthly shared decision-making meeting was dead on the water…It was a too steep challenge to “normal” concepts of machismo, what the role of a man in his house was, what the female role (silent and obedient?) was, etc.
I never forgot my clever, useful and sensible plan to have two spouses discussing their shared marriage in parity. I’m sharing it here with you, and saying again that there is not a more important decision that to set up a method by which the two sides can decide together how to make their marriage better. This idea has evolved, of course, with my new focus on conflicts, and now I talk about “fair fighting.”
Do you have some way of sitting down to decide together? Regularly, or only on extraordinary circumstances? Let me know!