I was listening the other day at a party while we shared some experiences from the early days of our marriages. It was an older group, and many years of experiences were represented. The common theme became the feeling we all had at some point that "I didn't get in it for THIS."
One woman was talking about learning just before she and her husband married that neither set of parents intended to give them any sort of financial support while the young man went through medical school and training. It was something that had both inferred, that both sets of parents, who were well-off, would be helping them out.
Suddenly she realized she was going to be sole bread-winner for many years and it was a rude awakening.
She said, "We stared at each other in disbelief. I don't know what he was thinking, but I know I thought to myself, 'Wait a minute, this wasn't the deal. This changes everything. I want out.' Then I realized it changed nothing substantial. Our abiding love for each other remained. It just meant rearranging some details. There were some courses I would need to add the last semester of college, and it meant our first years of marriage would be a lot more challenging than we had anticipated. We started reorienting and preparing to cope."
Another couple had a tragedy occur during their second year of marriage. Their first child was diagnosed with Tays-Sach's syndrome and died within a year. The woman related how much it changed their ideas and expectations when they received the diagnosis.
"Everything had been smooth sailing," she said. "He'd gotten a great job, we had a great place to live, friends, love, our first baby . everything looked like happily ever after, and then that. It also meant having no more children. We stared at each other. He had wanted lots of kids. I was afraid he'd leave me. Suddenly nothing seemed certain."
While these couples were making their plans, life had something else in mind. We all have a vague notion when we marry that we don't know completely what lies ahead, but of course we don't think about the hard times in specific terms. Why would we? For one thing, they cannot be anticipated. For another, it's borrowing trouble ahead of time as they say.
Yet, because we don't know what lies ahead, this is why marriage involves a commitment, and why the traditional vows include "in sickness and in health, for better, for worse."
Another woman told us about having a wonderful business with her husband set up in picturesque La Jolla, California (it means "the jewel" and it is!). It was her dream place to live and they enjoyed it for three years. Then the business failed, and he insisted they move back to his hometown in rural Louisiana.
"That wasn't what I had in mind at all," she said. Suddenly "for worse" had a face.
"It became the one thing I didn't get in the marriage for. You know, sickness and health, good times and bad, yes, but bankruptcy and rural Louisiana after the promise of riches in La Jolla, NO WAY."
Hard times have names and faces. When faced with the reality of the particular forms of "hard times," we often balk. Wait! No way! Not THIS! This isn't what I meant! Something else, okay, but not THIS.
Resilience is an important life skill to build for just this reason. It allows you to cope with those hard times that have names and faces, and to continue with your love for the other. The payoff is that going through hard times together and staying emotionally connected at the core is what bonds us.
I'm sure you've also heard couples say, "I would never leave him (or her) after what we've been through together. We're solid."
When hard times occur, especially those you never bargained for, turn toward each other, not away from each other If you feel like running, run together! Being in it for the long haul is what marriage (and life) is all about, and that includes being in it for THIS.
©Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach, http://ww.susandunn.cc. Coaching, internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence, to help you build your resilience and life skills. For FREE ezine, mailto:email@example.com with "ezine" for subject line.
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