How to Guarantee a Safe and Stable Marriage Stand on solid ground and feel the safety and stability of your marriage with these four tips. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
Enjoy the stability of your marriage even when the rest of your life seems uncertain.
“ You may not be able to guarantee one single aspect of your life, but you can absolutely guarantee your willingness to respond fully and positively to whatever comes your way.”
Your car is in the shop, again; your once adorable toddler is now a raving, raging adolescent; that job you thought would be yours forever has disappeared in the reconstruction of an uncertain economy, and to top it all off, your spouse is off and running on this "great opportunity" which leaves you with too many chores, lonely weekends, and too many nights of an exhausted "not tonight" mate.
You dream of the "good old days" when cars ran well, children obeyed, jobs stayed put until you quit, and spouses—well—just stayed put!
Dream on! Life has never had more than one guarantee (death), and clinging to the "good old days" (which if you really stop and think about it weren't all that good) is less and less possible in the face of the ever-increasing pace of change. Much as we hate to face it, the bottom line is—there are no guarantees. Spouses, children, cars, jobs all change. Houses fall down, fortunes are made and lost in a day, you and your spouse’s paths may diverge considerably even though you’re still very much a loving couple.
Yet all of us need safety and security. All of us need to feel that we are standing on "terra firma," not shifting ground. The paradox is, the more change that is happening all around us, the more we need stability.
The problem is not our need for safety and stability, the problem is where we tend to look for that safety. Looking for safety in the permanence of a job, of your spouse always being a certain way, of your health being everlastingly good, is bound to lead to disappointment. Some, if not all of these, will fail you.
The secret to safety and stability lies within yourself, within your ability and willingness to respond to each and every situation as it occurs. You see, you may not be able to guarantee one single aspect of your life, but you can absolutely guarantee your willingness to respond fully and positively to whatever comes your way.
Committing to yourself in this way is what will give you the safety and stability we all require in order to live a full and satisfying life.
"Ok, so fine," you say, "I'm committed to myself. But how does that help when my job has been ‘merged’ out of existence, or a tree just fell on my car, or I can’t get my spouse’s attention for more than two minutes?"
Since you have a basic underlying assumption that you will respond to this situation fully and positively, know that you will do so. Affirm to yourself, "I am willing and able to respond fully and positively to this situation." Breathe again.
2. Assess the situation. Keep breathing as you write down the specifics of what has just happened and what the impact is on you: "I'm going to be without money for rent, food, etc. within 2 weeks." "I need to get my car fixed and get transportation in the meantime. I'm going to need money for both." "My spouse’s obsession with this new opportunity is throwing a real monkey wrench in the ordinary smooth running of our household and disrupting our couple routines." Keep breathing. . .
3. Brainstorm alternatives. Most people get stuck on number two. Seeing the damage or need is often overwhelming and it can be challenging to get past that. With pad and pen, write down any and all alternative solutions which occur to you—farfetched or not. If possible, ask a close friend to help you brainstorm. Don't censor yourself. Keep coming up with ideas.
4. Use your resources. You are not alone. There is help all around you if only you are willing to look for it. Starting with those close to you, friends and family, think of all possible sources of help, from counseling to free online advice (Hitched offers thousands of articles) to chat groups to public service entities. Again, call on friends or family to help you think of all the resources available to you.
Somewhere, someone has had very similar experiences to yours, and has found a way to navigate successfully through them. Reach out and find the help you need and deserve.
You are able to respond successfully to any situation in your life if you are willing to do so, and to remember that you are not alone. Your safety is grounded within yourself—in your persistence, creativity and willingness to call upon those resources, material and human, which are there for all of us. Now that's a real guarantee!
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including "Your Man is Wonderful" and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. For more, visit www.noellenelson.com and follow her on Twitter @DrNoelleNelson and Google+.