Yesterday I was cooking with my kids.
As my daughter spilled milk all over the table and the floor (and did in fact, cry over it), and my son flung hamburger meat all over the counter while “stirring” it for me, I paused and thought, “Why am I doing this? This would be easier without them.”
Upon reflection, I remembered that I want my kids to love cooking. I want my kids to eat dinner and helping with cooking helps (or at least that’s what people keep telling me . . .). I want my kids to eventually be able to cook dinner all on their own.
The spills, the messes, the looooong dinner prep, that’s just part of the deal. Those things happen with young kids.
I needed to remember my why for this activity to be worth it to me.
Figuring out your why- why you are doing something matters. It can give you the perspective you need to get through tough times.
Why are you married? Why are you married to YOUR spouse? Why do you stay married?
I’ll give you a minute to really reflect on this.
The answer to why you got married initially will be different for everyone, but I’ll go through some examples to get your brain going:
– You could be married because that is what is expected of you, so you picked someone willing and did it.
– You could be married because you fell head over your heels for your partner and knew you wanted to be with them forever.
– You could be married because the thought of leaving your partner was/is more painful than staying despite your partner’s faults.
– You could be married because you were looking for someone to make you feel loved.
– You could be married because you thought it was your surest bet for happiness.
– You could be married because you felt pressured into it.
There are lots of whys.
Not all are created equal.
Some are going to make for better marriages than others.
But whatever your why was to initially get married, it’s important to figure out a useful why for when times get tough, so you can think, “Oh yeah, that’s why I’m doing this.”
Regardless of your reasons for marriage when you first started out, let me propose a why for staying married that can be useful to everyone.
Why do you stay married?
TO HAVE SOMEONE TO LOVE.
That probably doesn’t sound revolutionary, but allow me to contrast it with some lesser reasons for staying married:
– to have someone meet your needs
– to have someone make you happy
– to have someone make you feel accepted and validated
Why do you stay married?
Not to have someone love you, but so that YOU can have someone to love.
Maybe that sounds backward, but let’s talk about what emotions do for us for a second.
When we are angry at someone, who is affected?
We are, right? We can’t affect the person’s emotions at whom our anger is directed. We can’t make someone feel angry or remorse or sorry. We often want to, but it doesn’t work that way.
The only emotion guaranteed here is that when we are angry with someone, WE feel angry. We feel anger. Not them.
It’s the same with love.
When we feel love toward someone, its not a guarantee that they will feel that love or act on it or be nice to us in return. What IS guaranteed is that when we feel love toward someone, WE feel love.
And when we feel love, we are at our best- our most kind, generous and compassionate. When we feel love we can act out of our integrity instead of out of defensiveness or pity or jealousy or whatever other baser emotion we may have.
Try on that thought and see how it feels- you are married so that YOU have someone to love.
This thought frees you up to just let your spouse be your spouse. This mindset frees you up to nag less, expect less, be let down and disappointed and irritated LESS. Your spouse is not there to meet all of your needs and fulfill your expectations of them.
Your spouse is there for you to love.
This is unconditional love. This is mature love. This is acting out of stage three values as explained here.
Having someone to love is a beautiful, beautiful thing.