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Marriage, like life, is a cycle of ups and downs. It’s easy to say your marriage is in good health when the world around you is prospering, but when your fortunes turn and your world is in hardship, how you interact within your marriage can often paint an altogether different picture.
How we feel about those we love can have a huge impact on the health of the relationship, much like a relationship with a friend. We love our friends, but the real test of a friendship or relationship is when, in times of crisis, we feel let down or disappointed in our loved ones or the outcome achieved.
In many cases, the disappointment you feel is in your perspective of the situation. You set standards of behavior
for yourself and set the same high standards for those around you, and are disappointed when they let you down. In taking some meaning from the hurt you feel at being disappointed, a colleague shared the following insight:
“You feel disappointment so keenly because you love people so much”
So is it the same when we feel disappointed or let down by our partners? Do we feel disappointment or hurt so keenly
because we put our partners up on such a pedestal and expect them to always get it right?
This was perhaps a little more complicated than I had first anticipated, and it made me wonder whether the fault was on them for not living up to our expectations or standards, or whether our standards were in fact what was at fault. Is it fair to expect the same level of respect and love that you
offer so freely to those that you love?
I tell myself that I must lower my expectations of others and that I will do so in what they expect of me, but the
reality is that I seem unable to do so. I think the world of my friends. If I love someone I feel compelled to share
this thought with them so that they might know that they are valued, and I constantly live in hope that the same
feelings are felt in return.
But in taking a closer look, we realize that this is part of what love is about. Sharing our feelings of connection
with others, and letting them know that what they do is valued. We feel a sense of togetherness when we are able
to share our feelings with others. Love is also what keeps us coming back for more, keeps us trying to do things
better, and helps us to keep trying even when we feel let down.
So how do we let go of the hurt?
Some would say that unconditional love is giving love without the expectation of reciprocation. But it doesn’t
make it any easier. Part of loving those around you is knowing that they share the same values as you, and that
they will be there to support you when you need it. Knowing that quitting isn’t an option, and that the benefit of
hanging in there is going to deliver benefits to both of you is what keeps many people going.
Telling your partner about your feelings and expectations is a hard thing to do, and exposes you to a certain amount
of vulnerability. There is also the fear that your comments can be taken the wrong way, or that they can be used against you or interpreted as a criticism.
It’s not about criticism. It’s about helping your partner see why you feel the way you do. It’s about helping
communicate a part of what makes you tick. It may not be perfect, and it feels scary, but that is one of the most
valuable parts of this exercise. In talking to a partner about your feelings and what leads you to feel these
feelings is a valuable part of intimacy.
It’s about getting to know each other better.
And realising that loving someone is about loving them even when they let you down.
Best of luck in your marriage,