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When you think about marriage, the images that spring to mind are usually brides in white, churches, rings, house and two children, and the like. But one aspect of marriage is often overlooked and was brought to my attention the other day.
I was reading a document about the economic benefits of marriage, part of "The state of our unions 2006", a report published by the National Marriage Project, based at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The aim of this report, released every year, is to educate people on the social, economic and cultural conditions affecting marital success and wellbeing in America. It is a great read, and full of lots of really great information about what is going on inside our families and marriages.
So in looking at marriages, we often overlook what wonderful wealth-generating institutions they really are. Married couples create more economic assets over a lifetime than single people or cohabiting couples. So why is that?
The first reason is that marriage provides economies of scale in the fact that it is cheaper for two to live together than it is separately. The second reason is that as a couple, each person can specialize in certain areas and in doing so increase efficiency.
Married couples on average save and invest more in their future to secure a stable lifestyle, and married men tend to earn between 10 and 40 percent more than their single counterparts.
In addition to this, married couples qualify for more government and workplace assistance in the form of maternity leave, subsidies, and tax relief as an incentive to build families and do their bit for population growth.
So if marriages are such wealth-creating units, what happens if couples divorce?
Things go downhill economically if a couple decides to end the marriage and divorce, and research has shown that divorce can increase child poverty which significantly increases the cost to society in the form of health and welfare programs and initiatives.
A lot of the information here may seem logical once you consider it, but the actual reading of the impact of marriage and divorce and its associated social benefits and costs makes for very interesting reading. The economics of it may not be interesting for some, but it is a worthwhile incentive in doing all you can to save marriages and decrease the risk of divorce.
The cost to you financially both in the immediate and long-term may come as a surprise. Equally, it may cause both of you to reconsider divorce and re-evaluate the worth of maintaining and saving your marriage.
It is one of many important factors to consider.
I was out for a walk with my dog last night and took a short-cut past my local rugby-football club. While walking past a group of boys in a training session, I overheard someone putting another player down, and it gave me the opportunity to ponder on what had happened. In looking at what motivated one person to put another down in this situation, I contemplated my own experience with put-downs.
My own experience is somewhat different due to my extroverted personality, and this personality attracts a certain amount of attention, both positive and negative. As much as I have a happy-go-lucky type of attitude to life, attacks from others can really get me down.
I guess as part of my need to protect myself from the labels and judgements of others I have created an insular world and group of people around me that lead me to believe, albeit temporarily, that I am accepted wholeheartedly and without comment, derision or scorn.
In doing this, I wonder if I set myself up for a disappointment when those outside of this circle let themselves down and further dampen my hope that wider humanity is as evolved and accepting as the people I surround myself with. As much as I tell myself that I don’t care for the thoughts and opinions of others, one small comment from a complete stranger can still cut deep.
I don’t believe it is often what is said moreso than the way it is spoken. An observation, an insult, or a label is often hurled toward another without feeling and without consequence. Some people would tell me that a stranger’s insult is indicative of their inadequacies, or that their need to put down others highlights their own poor self-esteem.
There is more power to our words than we give credit, and none moreso than when we use our words as weapons. This is especially true when we use words to wound our loved ones. We know and understand our loved ones intimately, and sharing our innermost secrets with our loved ones exposes us to vulnerability. Our trust in our partners allows us to share our secrets and overcome this fear of vulnerability.
Your marriage partnership is in itself an insular environment because of this trust, and an attack on a deeply personal level from within this most trusted environment can be little short of devastating. The person we trust most in the world knows all of our secrets in the same way you know theirs, and hurling an insult at them can be a betrayal of this deep trust you have in one another. The betrayal of trust in your partner by using their vulnerability against them can continue to wound them long after the insult has been forgiven.
So when this sacred trust is shattered, what do we do to undo the damage?
- We can ask for forgiveness, hoping that the humility of asking for forgiveness can undo the damage that the insult inflicts.
- We can recognize the betrayal of trust and vow never to use our secrets as a weapon.
- We can look at what motivates us to wound others so deep, perhaps in an effort to understand our own wounds and why we hurt others
- We can take responsibility for the power of our words by stopping ourselves from wounding, even when we are hurt. We can make a commitment to filter our comments and exercise self-restraint
- We can act with love instead of hate.
What is your opinion? What additional marriage advice can you offer to others when you use words as weapons?
I was down at the grocery store last week, doing some shopping on my way home from work. Looking down at all the different types of cheese in the deli before me, my attention was directed toward bags of grated cheese. I was astounded!
And it made me wonder… If we are too lazy to even grate our own cheese, how bad have things become? Does this same paternalistic mentality over needing to buy cheese pre-grated follow into so many of our other facets of life? Can we buy houses that clean themselves, cars that drive themselves? It seems they are developing technology that wil enable us to have vacuum cleaners that operate themselves as well as self-drive cars. Thinking on to the next logical step from this, how much do we expect others to do for us? How little do we expect to do for ourselves?
I mean, if we can’t grate our own cheese, clean our own homes, drive ourselves about, then where do we take control of what is going on in our lives?
This mentality follows when it comes to your marriage. There is no product out there that is going to save your marriage for you. The act of buying a book is not going to magically turn your marriage problems around. Reading the book is not going to change your life either. Marriages involve work. Marriage problems require even more work, and a commitment that the effort you make and the heartache you go through in the process of fixing your marriage is going to be worth it. Reading about how to fix a marriage is not going to magically change your life either. This mentality is going to doom your marriage to the divorce basket.
What is going to make a difference is having the determination to read the concepts and techniques that we offer and applying them to your marriage. This also means getting off your backside and taking responsibility for saving your marriage. Because ultimately the effort you go to is going to determine to a large extent whether your marriage survives or not.
I never heard of a person learning to walk again achieve success by simply reading a book about it. I never heard of Christopher Columbus discovering America by buying a book about it and never setting out to sea. I never heard of man landing on the moon and attributing his success by watching a great documentary about it and never reaching space. I never heard of Edmund Hilary conquering Mount Everest by reading a magazine about how to do it and never leaving his armchair. Achieving success in any pursuit involves HARD WORK, it involves dedication, and it involves personal investment by the person with the greatest to gain.
There are no shortcuts. The people who achieve great things in life, sometimes against great odds, are those who are determined to succeed and determined to take action and do something. Others can provide you with the tools, but the hard work and the heartache and the achievement are ultimately your responsibility.
I cannot help those who will not help themselves. Next time you are at the supermarket, buy a block. Grate your own cheese. Clean your own floors, drive your own car. Save your own marriage with my course. Let me help you save your marriage.
Angry little men.
That’s what they are. I deal with a lot of different people in the work that I do, and in the course of my work I have the fortune of mixing with some wonderful, warm, and insightful souls. I see and hear from a variety of different people right across the broad range of individuals that make up our society, and every so often I come across some very angry and troubled souls.
They are pretty easy to spot. In fact, they really like to make themselves heard. I’m not sure if they challenge me because they feel threatened by the success and the following that our course has, or whether they are challenging me to fix their problems which to them may seem quite impossible. Nevertheless, I have gems of wisdom to offer even the most defensive and hardened souls.
Often I receive challenges as emails, challenging me and wondering who I think I am, imparting wisdom and thoughts to people in marital crisis. Some tell me that the insights I offer are wrong, sometimes irresponsible, sometimes even challenge the credibility of our course.
The Save My Marriage Today course has been online now for several years, and continues to support thousands of couples in their time of crisis. I encourage people to think. I encourage people to take a closer look at their actions and interactions with others. I challenge people to examine their crisis and identify opportunities for growth. Sometimes people agree with the information our course imparts, sometimes people don’t. I make no apologies for that.
But in attacking something you don’t like or understand, you tell others a lot about where you are at. Sometimes it is easier to attack others than deal with the real issues that are going on inside you or in your relationship. In attacking others, it temporarily boosts one’s self esteem and makes you feel better about yourself. But it is only a temporary thing.
Projecting your anger outwards is as effective as facing down a tank with a slingshot. It doesn’t help you fix your issues, and it doesn’t make others feel better about you either. It exposes insecurities and breeds contempt. It also aids in communication breakdown and works against the whole idea of fixing the problems that need to be addressed!
Marriage problems can be a very powerless and frightening time. The temptation to lash out is strong, but the greatest benefit can be derived in taking responsibility for your actions and resisting the temptation to project outwards. Marital issues can be incredibly varied, but often the problems are further compounded by poor communication and misdirected anger.
My grandmother always told me you get much further in life with a little sugar rather than vinegar. Dealing with your problems like an adult and taking responsibility for your responses is one of the key steps to adulthood and understanding the complex nature of human relationships and marriages. Your marital crisis is an opportunity for growth. So let me help you learn and grow.
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