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Foundation of happy married life is neither education nor wealth. Many incidents of mutual enmity, strained relations and divorce amongst educated couples prove that conjugal happiness does not depend on education. It also does not depend on wealth, because the latter is only a means to fulfill basic needs of life. Even if the needs are fulfilled there is no guarantee that the bonds of mutual love and intimacy will continue to be strong.
For happy married life, noble feelings of mutual sharing and caring and deep soul-level commitment to the sacred bond are the essential factors. The aim of Vedic rituals and rites performed during the solemnization of a sacramental marriage is to stress that marriage is basically a spiritual union of two souls and not a mundane contract breakable at the whim and fancy of either partner. It is an unbreakable bond of soul mates. The homes where these ideals are followed have always a life full of merriment, laughter and joy. In such homes there is always heaven like atmosphere.
The incident belongs to 1912. An English ship named Titanic was sinking in the sea. Rescuers were trying to save precious cargo and passengers by lifeboats. A couple named Mrs. Isadore and Mr. Istas were traveling in that ship. By life boat only one out of them could be saved. Mr. Istas picked up his wife and shifted her to the lifeboat so that her life could be saved. Mrs. Isadore jumped back into the sinking ship and thus spoke to her husband "Dear husband when during the whole of our married life we have remained together then why should we part now? Since we have lived together, we will die together." How much intimacy, love and soul kinship is implied in these words! It is such a mutual bonding that makes married life a happy sacrament.
Love is not based on physical beauty; it requires selfless feelings of glad giving and service. Love story of army commander of America, Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachael is world famous. Rachael was uneducated and had normal features while Jackson was one of the most handsome persons of that time. It was soul level bond of love, which inspired him to be always loyal and dedicated to Rachael’s love.
Usually for some period in the beginning there is so called romantic love between all husbands and wives but slowly as ego centered angularities of each other start clashing, the physical attraction between them starts decreasing and within a short time family life becomes an arena of mutual recrimination. This situation also arises because of over-indulgence in sensual pleasure. Hence there are some basic rules of relationship, which both husband and wife should strictly follow to make the relationship one of mutual respect, love and caring.
Married life is a sacred union of two souls as husband and wife. There must be total commitment and loyalty in the relationship. Distrust and secretiveness creates hatred and bitterness against each other. Sometimes distrust and doubt have no basis. This confusion arises because of ones own weakness. Hence it is essential that husband and wife should gladly share their inmost feelings with each other so that clouds of distrust could be cleared through openhearted discussion.
Sometimes feeling of indifference also creates doubt. If wife is ill or she has some trouble and husband does not show loving concern and care or if husband has some mental or physical problem and wife neglects then such situations make married life poisonous. Both must consciously nurture the relationship through mutual giving, serving, caring and loving. Marriage should become the corner stone for the edifice of all other relationships.
People have a natural tendency to be happy on being praised. People praise God also to get His favors. This is what happens in prayers when Gods are praised for their divine qualities. Similarly people get hurt by criticism and condemnation. Therefore shower praise generously and shun criticism of your life mate. Every body has some qualities and they should be praised and applauded without any reserve. The aim should be to encourage and elevate each other through heart-warming gestures so that dormant divine qualities in both are stimulated and nurtured – making family life a heaven of happiness and joy. In this matter, husbands have greater responsibilities in comparison to wives. They should appreciate their wives for their contribution to home making, caring, cooperating in bringing up of the children. This fills their hearts with loving kindness and warmth.
They should not criticize each other for their physical features, parents or in-laws. One should not say anything that shows more importance to someone else than his/her life companion. People are very expert in praising others before their kins but wise are they who appreciate and praise their own kins before others also. Wives should also keep in mind there financial status while expressing their desires and needs to their husbands. They should never express desires, which their husbands are unable to fulfill.
Aim of emotional purification is to make husband and wife self-sacrificing, gentle and virtuous for a healthy married life. If a man has true qualities of manhood and woman of womanhood, there is no reason of unhappiness in married life. All other plans are means to develop these qualities. A husband should have strength, courage, industriousness, fearlessness, etc. and a wife should have delicacy, humility, kindness, love, modesty, sympathy etc. If both have proper ratio of their individual qualities in their nature then love, faith, intimacy, etc continue getting more and more refined and happy intimacy in married life goes on increasing day by day. It is in such families that virtuous children are born and by them social and national life becomes happy and progressive. Hence it is the basic duty of every couple to sanctify married life by becoming ideal soul mates. This duty should be considered paramount.
Contempt is contradictory to progress and happiness. Generally everybody is prone to make minor mistakes. To snub, scold, curse, disgrace and abuse one’s life companion on some petty pretexts is a sign of foolishness, which leads to disharmony, distress, and sometimes disintegration of family life. It MUST NOT be indulged in.
To conclude, here are some guidelines for healthy and happy marriage :
Praise, don’t blame. You can praise a poor marriage partner into much improvement of his (her) behavior. Blame, by contrast, never made anybody any better. Be sure, that your praise is sincere. Artificial compliments boomerang. There is always something to praise in a person if you look for it – so look for it. As one of my readers expressed it, "Half a man’s strength comes from what he reads in his wife’s eyes." The same is, of course, true for a woman.
Be faithful. The great, wonderful experience of man-woman love can be built up with only one person. There are many temptations in our present society. Fidelity is not easy. The wise, however know where their real happiness lies. When a husband and wife make good with each other physically and emotionally, they are enjoying the best that life has to offer.
Make your spouse and not your children the primary object of your affection. This is not only better for your spouse; it is also better for your children. Your marriage partner can use all the love you can give him and be the better partner for it. The love that is best for your children is the overflow of your affection for each other. This creates cozy, comfortable environment for them, leaving them free to develop according to needs of their own nature. Love with liberty is best for your children. Only as we learn to modify our materialism, working to build a wholesome family rather than a large fortune, will we raise mentally healthy children. Married love and parental love go together. Unless you are happy with each other as husband and wife, you are not likely to raise happy and healthy children.
Put enthusiasm into your marriage – not just in spurts but everyday. "Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. "This rule certainly applies to marriage.
In the beginning, say the beautiful Platonic myth, men and women were one. But then the Gods, out of envy of their happiness, separated them. Since then each seeks his other half in order to be one again.
If there is one true joy in life to compensate for its endless toil and many seeming difficulties and frustrations, it is man-woman love in marriage. Don’t miss it. You have lived well if you have loved well, and you have lived poorly if you have loved poorly.
Keys to a Happier Marriage
Newly weds are often asked ‘how’s married life?’ As with everything in life, the answer depends on you. For some, marriage is another word for frustration and even misery. For others it is the bedrock of strength and support they build the rest of their lives around.
What are the differences that lead such a fundamental part of daily life down two totally opposing avenues? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can share with you the things that have helped me in my years of marriage to what I feel is a very strong and happy relationship.
Work on Your Marriage. Like most of us, I learnt what I know about marriage from my parents. When my father once said to me ‘marriage requires attention, the moment you stop working on your marriage is the moment it begins to falter’ I can remember thinking, this didn’t sound very much like the movies. After all a wedding is the culmination of a movie, that’s when everything is all sorted out and you don’t have to worry about anything any more, right? Alas, like in many other things, my father has proven correct.
As we’ll discuss in the proceeding paragraphs, maintaining a healthy marriage requires sacrifices, attention and care. It helps to think of your marriage as a living thing in itself. Like all living things, it needs nourishment and protection, healing when it is sick, and space to grow and flourish.
These are all nice words, but what does that mean on a practical level? It means you need to always think about your marriage and not take it for granted. It means you need to be vigilant against things that might threaten it, not just the obvious things like temptation, but the subtle things like imbalances in responsibility and duty, comparisons to others, jealousy and so on. It means you need to nourish your marriage with thoughtfulness for the other’s needs, find time together and sometimes even time apart. It means when things are going wrong you need to stop and think about how you can improve them and perhaps what sacrifices you need to make. It means that a marriage needs to go forward, to change as you both change and to grow stronger.
Don’t Leave Things Unsaid. I watched a movie once – I think it was one of those British romantic comedies – where a man is asked why his marriage failed and he replies “Because we left too many things unsaid” and though I don’t normally take advice from movies, this one I took to heart.
If you don’t voice your problems they have nowhere to go. Worse if you voice them to people not in your marriage – i.e. friends, coworkers, anyone else – then instead of airing your dirty laundry you let it fester.
No matter how long two people have known each other there will still be things that they don’t pick up when unspoken. Sure you may think your partner knows what you’re thinking, but what if they don’t? Which leads us to number 3…
Speak Plainly. The very worst thing you can do in a relationship is play games with each other. No, not the twister or monopoly varieties, I mean mind games. It’s tempting when you are in a bad mood or when you don’t want to be hurt to be passive aggressive, to not say what you mean, to make veiled hints in order to test the other person and so on. Tempting, but it doesn’t go anywhere except sour.
I think it’s fairly obvious why clear communication leads to a better marriage, and yet it can be difficult to do. But if you have something to say, whether it is to voice some upset, to show that you care or anything else, then you must speak plainly if you hope for the other person to understand. And if you weren’t hoping for them to understand, why are you talking?
Speaking indirectly usually begins during dating or courting. We do it because it avoids us opening up to being hurt. At this early stage if you were to tell someone how much you liked them and they shot you down it would be painful. So to compensate we move slowly and only hint at our feelings until we see enough back from the other person that we start to open up. This is OK.
The problem is when speaking indirectly continues on into the relationship. At that point you should be able to trust the person enough to express your feelings. If they abuse them then you leave. By keeping your guard up you only put huge barriers in the middle of your relationship.
Speaking indirectly is also a bad idea when one person just doesn’t get it. When you have one partner playing games and the other doesn’t really understand their behaviour at times they will begin to resent the other and inevitably this will lead to problems.
Passive aggression on the other hand is when a partner rather than voicing their upsets appears to be smiling, calm, and usually puts bite into words that shouldn’t have it. Over time passive aggression can become less and less veiled and turn into exasperation, distain even disgust.
Another bad habit is what is called stonewalling. This is when a partner simply shuts the other out, going silent, ignoring them or even leaving for a time. Stonewalling has obvious consequences of frustration and anger and quickly leads to cycles of increasing problems as one person stonewalls while the other becomes more and more frustrated, then becomes less and less reasonable leading to further stonewalling.
If you only take one thing away from my words, let it be to speak plainly, avoid passive aggression, avoid games and avoid speaking indirectly. When you say what you mean and communicate your feelings clearly the other person has a proper chance to respond.
Be Vulnerable. Too often we don’t want to put our feelings and thoughts out there. Particularly if we’ve had bad experiences when younger, or if simply taught to be that way by watching our parents and peers. Admitting that you are vulnerable – everyone is – is the corollary to speaking plainly.
It is important to remember that this is your partner and they love you and you love them. Between the two of you, if you both speak plainly and admit vulnerability, then you will be able to resolve problems. It may take time, you may have many hurdles to get over, but what other recourse is there than resolution? After all neither of you are out to get the other – remember you love each other!
The flipside to being vulnerable is you get hurt sometimes. Don’t let this close you off, remember this just means that wasn’t the right person, circumstances or perhaps even a little closer to home, there were other things going wrong. Whatever the case, you don’t need to hide away. Without being open to hurt, you won’t be open to the joys of marriage and relationships.
Accept your Partner. It is tempting to find a person and try to shape them into the partner you really want. Trying to change a person never works. People know when they are not accepted in their entirety and it hurts.
You shouldn’t go into a marriage or a relationship thinking to change someone. And if you do remember the most you can do is explain what it is, explain how it affects you or why it affects you and if it’s important, then they may change. And if they don’t, then think about all the things that they may wish changed in you.
Of course if there are too many things you want to change, it is important to face that this may not be the right person for you, or you may be expecting too much. People will be what they will be, spending your marriage life trying to shift habits and personalities is like trying to push boulders up a mountain, tiring and not very fun.
Spend Time Together. It’s obvious, but a relationship without any face time is going to have problems. I have met happy couples who spend months apart because of work commitments, but they are few and far between and more often than not, their happiness is more a testament to their character and emotional abilities than anything else.
Of course spending time together doesn’t simply mean being in the same room, it means actively finding time where you engage with each other. It may even take work and effort, but remember from above, a happy marriage takes work!
Spending time together, also often entails spending some time alone. Children, even pets can sometimes be barriers to engaging with one another. Even if you simply have a few moments while they run off, it’s important to be alone too.
Make Time for Both Your Ambitions and Goals. It is all too easy to focus on your own goals and ambitions and hope or even assume that your partner shares them. If you don’t know what your partner’s life goals are, ask them.
In my marriage, I have goals that are to do largely with working, whereas my wife wants to travel the world. If we did either and not the other, one of us would feel unfulfilled. The solution is of course balance. We try to do one then a little of the other, then switch.
Be Clear and Assertive. While it is important to be vulnerable, to make sure your partners goals are being looked after, that you accept your partner and all the other things we’ve talked about, it’s equally important not to be trampled over. You should always be clear and assertive about your own feelings, your own needs and your own goals. Remember that your own happiness is essential to a happy marriage.
What are Healthy Boundaries
We can best begin to understand boundaries by thinking in terms of physical boundaries. When I drive south to the US border, there is no disputing it, one side is Canada, and the other side is the United States, and there are very official looking people who are there to make sure I realize, I can’t just cross this boundary without permission. They take their work of enforcing the boundary very seriously. I’m glad they do!
We have boundaries around our property. If you have a fence between your yard and your neighbor’s yard, it is very clear, which part belongs to you, and which part belongs to him. We respect these boundaries. I can’t just suddenly decide I’d rather sit in my neighbor’s yard on a hot summer day, without getting his permission (even if he has a swimming pool and I don’t). And if I do sit in his yard (and swim in his pool) without his consent, I have violated a boundary. Likely my neighbor will enforce his boundary and ensure that I leave. If he doesn’t, he may begin to experience stress.
There are other boundaries too - people boundaries; physical, emotional and time boundaries.
Our skin is a physical boundary that has to do with our person. What’s inside my skin is me, what’s outside my skin is not me. If someone strikes me or sexually abuses me they have violated the boundary of my skin. This is a severe boundary violation, and people who’ve been violated physically, will likely suffer emotional trauma as a result.
In life, it is as if we all have our own private front yard and backyard around our life. It is the part of our lives that belongs to us and it is our responsibility. The problem is other people have a tendency to throw their garbage in our yard. It doesn’t belong in our yard. It is their garbage, so it belongs in their yard. It is their responsibility.
The problem is learning to recognize and understand our own personal boundaries. Then learning how to maintain our boundaries and not allow others to make their problems into our problems. Problems with boundaries cause problems in relationships. Not just marriages, but with children, extended family, friends and in our jobs as well. And when we don’t have healthy boundaries in our lives, we experience undo stress. We allow others to take advantage of us.
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us, mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts, emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and spiritual boundaries help us to choose our own beliefs about God.
Many people have drawn overly flexible boundaries (unwilling to say no, always accommodating others' needs) or overly rigid boundaries (to the point of being righteous and judgmental).
Dr. Henry Cloud in his book called Boundaries; shares this example to help explain boundaries:
A family, mother, father and grown siblings come into Dr. Cloud’s office to talk with him about the many problems the other sibling (a brother who isn’t present) is having. Apparently this brother is a real mess, he can’t hold a job, has no money, has trouble with relationships, substance abuse, the list goes on and on.
Dr. Cloud listens to the family describe the problems the brother is having for a few minutes, and then he stops them and says, “I don’t think your son/brother has any problems at all.”
“What! How dare you say this! Don’t you understand? Didn’t you hear us describe all the terrible problems he has?” the astonished family asks.
“Where is your son today?” Dr. Cloud asks.
“Oh he’s skiing. We tried to get him to come, but he just wouldn’t. He doesn’t even seem to care about how badly he’s doing.”
“I don’t think he’s doing badly at all. He’s out there skiing. He’s having a great time. I don’t think I can help your brother at all. He’s not having a problem. You guys are the ones with the problem. Look at you. Here you are in a psychiatrist’s office. You aren’t having fun at all. And it sounds to me that YOU are having a lot of problems. But I do believe I can help you. You see I can help YOU to help YOUR SON/BROTHER HAVE A PROBLEM. What HE needs is a problem. How did he get out of jail?”
“Oh well we bailed him out. We believed in him. We felt he needed a second chance.”
“How did your son get the money to go skiing?”
“Well, since he can’t hold a job we have to help him financially from time to time, ‘til he gets his feet back on the ground.”
Many of us behave in very similar patterns to this family when our spouse has been unfaithful. We keep asking, “How can I get my spouse to change?” We fail to realize that we may need to change.
When we catch the ball someone else drops (which is almost like a reflex), we are picking up the garbage that belongs in their yard.
The nicer the person usually the greater the problems they have with boundaries. It is very important for those around us to experience the consequences their own actions.
What are healthy boundaries for you? There is no set rule. You have to ask yourself: What is and isn’t alright with you?
For example, a boundary I have is I don’t take business calls at my home. My home is a private sanctuary (a boundary), a place for me to relax and enjoy my family. If someone calls me at home about business, I kindly cut them short, tell them I don’t take business calls at home, and provide them with my office number.
Another boundary I have is I don’t allow people to call me derogatory names. If someone does, I come right out and tell them that this is unacceptable. If they intend to have a relationship with me, they either stop, or I withdraw from the relationship. If my husband were referring to me with such language, I would do the same. Tell him this is unacceptable and I will not tolerate this. If he didn’t stop, I would separate or get a divorce. I would not stay in a verbally abusive relationship.
Self-esteem and maintaining good boundaries go hand in hand. If I believe I am a valuable person (which every person is), I will not allow others to mistreat me.
Once I was having a problem with a close extended family member calling one of my children names, and attempting to manipulate and control me. I hung up the phone on this person 8 times consecutively. (This was so uncomfortable for me that I sought the help of a counselor who affirmed I had handled the situation correctly. Enforcing boundaries is awkward at first. We almost feel guilty.)
A period of no contact ensued for several years. Then one day, they called again. No criticisms, no mind games, and a respect for my ability to make my own decisions. I enjoy a marvelous and close relationship with this person today, which I don’t believe would be possible if I had continued to allow this person to violate my boundary.
Another boundary Brian and I have in our marriage is we expect each other to be truthful, and we expect each other to conduct ourselves above reproach when interacting with the opposite sex. We bear in mind that even the “appearance of evil” is unacceptable. Mutual respect and open honest communication are foundational to understanding, and to respecting each other’s boundaries.
It is also healthy to have a certain amount of privacy, for example I keep a journal, and for Brian to read my private journal without my permission would be violating a boundary. (Of course after a major boundary infringement, such as an affair, the person who has had the affair must realize they now have to give up some of their freedoms for a time while trust is reestablished in the marriage.)
In a marriage it is appropriate to have physical boundaries, never being hit, never being held against your will, monogamy in the marriage, equality regarding work, money, child raising responsibilities, recreational time. We should be respected. It is inappropriate to call each other names, or be overly critical (both face to face and when our spouse is not present).
We have a right to our own opinions, and even a right to pursue our own religious convictions (without inflicting them upon our spouse if they are different). We have a right to pursue same-sex friendships outside the marriage. I should have a right to better myself as a person by having some freedom to attend a local support group meeting, see a counselor, confide in a friend, or read books that interest me. (Yet viewing pornographic materials would be a boundary violation, as that crosses the sexual boundary in the marriage.)
Where people draw their own boundaries is up to them. What is okay with you? Couples need to discuss and AGREE upon mutual boundaries that fit their unique marriage.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
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