Previously, I’ve written about how marriage isn’t supposed to be ‘fun’.
However, having said that, here’s this: Are YOU a fun spouse? In other words, does your spouse ‘like’ you?
Now granted, there’s always ‘love’, and let’s assume that you do, in fact, love each other for whatever THAT word is worth or for whatever each of us intends it to mean–but let’s save that for another time.
Here we’re looking at an entirely different question, really: here, we’re looking at LIKE. Do you like each other, want to be around each other?
Or does the imminent presence of your spouse give you a belly ache and anxiety or irritation? Or do you actually avoid them even?
Remember when you first dated each other? How were you a fun person? What made you attractive to them? Why did they LIKE you? (If it was money or looks you may stop reading here.)
Isn’t it funny, how, after we’ve been married for a while, we all but cease to be a fun or even pleasant person to be around for one another? How our presence brings up images and feelings, either conscious or subconscious, of stress, conflict, or problems rather than relief, support, or friendship?
Oh sure, even in good, healthy marriages people can admit to working well together as a team to raise the kids, run the household, and share the work of life.
But what about LIKING each other and wanting to be around each other?
So, what makes a spouse fun or at least pleasant to be around?
Here are a few traits which make a spouse likable (I’m sure there are others):
You are not immediately defensive
You give them the benefit of the doubt; i.e. they are innocent before proven guilty in your eyes, they are good before they are bad–and they can feel it
You hold your opinions, or comments, until after you have listened and validated feelings
You like THEM
…and…you have a degree of mastery of your life
I’d say that last one bears a brief description.
Having a degree of mastery of our lives by definition means that we have gotten pretty good at living. It doesn’t mean that we’re perfect or that we’re without our problems or hangups. But it does mean that we’ve attained a certain degree of true adulthood in our attitudes and coping skills, and that even our philosophies of life have been given some deliberate thought.
What it doesn’t mean is that we’re always flying by the seat of our pants, procrastinating, not following through, not taking care of ourselves, or not thinking about the other person or about the consequences of our words or actions. Leave all that stuff for the kids.
In short, people like to be around people who are at least somewhat comfortable in their own skins, who are thoughtful and considerate, who do what they say they’re going to do, and who seem to like them as well.
So I say to you: Get some allies that will help you achieve this last trait, and work on the other four traits starting NOW.
You too will soon regain some of the LIKE in your marriage.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)