“Women marry men hoping that they will change, and men marry women hoping that they won’t”.
I have been thinking a lot this week about the concept of retirement happiness and what it would look like for me and I chose the picture above this article because when I finally retire I would just like someone to be with at the end of the day who actually wants to be with me.
But that’s my idea of happiness and I know that a lot of people who have been married for a long time might not agree.
I find that rather sad. Yes you have been with the person you are married to forever and they are annoying as hell. Yes they have failed you and ignored you and hurt your feelings – but you have done quite a few things yourself haven’t you.
It is a vicious circle that never seems to end. You have an argument about something small but you carry your wounded feelings forward into the next conversation and the next. Eventually you just stop saying what you think or feel altogether – or worse you take the aggressive route and greet any statement that comes from the other side of the room with anger and an “I don’t care what you think” attitude.
And yet you continue on together, but completely separate; doing the grocery shopping, entertaining the family for Sunday dinner, even taking trips together, all the time pretending that everything is just fine. That’s right – pretending to have a relationship, instead of doing the painful work required to have a relationship.
If you are scoffing at me for writing this right now thinking “Oh what a load of nonsense” or “Yah right, he’ll never change” then I guarantee you I have hit a nerve.
And the truth is, the person you are married to probably is not going to change, but you can. Instead of silence or anger, you can start to ask questions. In short – you can start by trying to work out how the crazy person you live with actually thinks and what their real fears are. This might not stop them from behaving the way that they do, but it will make it easier for you to address them with kindness and patience.
If you doubt that this is worth the trouble, take a good look across the room and remember something – someday that person you are taking for granted might get sick and suddenly not be there anymore.
Trust me, dealing with a critical illness is not the time to be mending fences. The conversations you need to have don’t take place, in fact you typically avoid talking about anything that really needs to be talked about. In the best case scenario you fluff pillows and bring cups of tea, and stand by wishing that there was something you could do, but you don’t talk.
And then … eventually the unthinkable happens.
Do you really want to be left sitting by yourself wishing that you had spent more time together, or been kinder, or taken more of an interest in understanding who your spouse really was?
If the answer is no, then do something to change your relationship while you still can.