Growing up, you heard a lot of clever quips about marriage. You heard “happy wife, happy life”. You also heard “the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach”. You heard “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” .I could go on. There are a lot of things you heard about marriage. And maybe through your own experience you’ve found some of these clever saying to be more than just clever. Maybe you even found them to be profound. But of all the things you’ve heard there are things that you say that you don’t know are hurting your marriage.
Three Things You Say that Hurt Your Marriage
Honey, it’d really make me happy if you would... (fill in the blank here with mow the lawn, not go out with the boys/girls tonight, give me a blowjob, etc). Your happiness is up to you. Your partner doesn’t control it anymore than they control the weather. Sure, there are things they can do to influence your happiness (like the mow lawn or not go out with friends) but in the end, they can only influence it. They can mow the lawn or not go out with their friends and you’d still be angry or unhappy.
You make me feel so insecure. This one goes along with what I wrote above. Your partner can’t make you feel secure. Just like they can’t make weather happen. Your security comes from within you. Whether your partner cheats or becomes alcoholic, you can still feel secure within yourself to handle whatever obstacles life throws at you. There are things your spouse can do to make you not trust them, but there’s nothing they can do to make you feel insecure. That one’s on you.
If you loved me you would… Now you’re making love into some kid of bargaining chip. Like it’s something that can be traded in exchange for some task or something. I guess you could do that. But that says a lot more about the way you love your partner than it does about how your partner loves you. They can still love you and not do what you want. Can you still love them?
No. You can’t. Are you controlling or something? Telling your spouse what they can and can’t do? Your spouse is a grown up. You married them because you felt they were responsible, have good judgment, and you felt comfortable with decisions they make. So telling them no to something they want to do doesn’t make sense unless you’re trying to be controlling. You can tell them you’re uncomfortable with something and would prefer that they wouldn’t do certain things. But to definitively tell them no about something like you’re their parent is just silly.
I need you to do X before I can do Y. “I need you to do the dishes once in a while before I want to fool around”. or I”I’ve had a rough day I need you to recognze These are great examples of bargaining. Using things in your relationship as a bargaining chip (such as sex) to get your partner to do something. You think that if your partner will do certain things it will suddenly make you do certain things.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in helping couples overcome stale relationships and infidelity.