When you were getting married you probably talked to a lot of people and got a lot of marriage advice. You probably even got marriage advice from people you didn’t even ask. For the most part, you were probably happy to get the advice. After all, you’ve heard that about half of all couples divorce so if there’s anything you can do to not be another statistic then that’s even better. You probably heard that marriage is hard, marriage takes compromise, marriage isn’t about you, and make sure to plan a date night, etc. But here’s some advice from a marriage counselor you probably never got:
Marriage Advice You Never Got
1) Your Spouse Isn’t Supposed to Meet Your Needs. Humans have the most advanced brains on the planet. It’s what puts us at the top of the food chain. As a result of this big brain, we are multifaceted and complex. The best researchers in the world haven’t figured everything out about love, the brain or psychology. So don’t expect your spouse to have it figured out, either. The most common way this happens is by expecting your partner to meet your emotional needs. They just can’t. You’re too complex. You have ever-changing goals and interests, you also have scars and skeletons in your closet that shape you are. To expect your partner to know you inside and out emotionally and meet all of your needs is an impossible order for them to fulfill. They’ll feel constantly pressured and you’ll feel constantly let down if you expect this.
2) No matter how compatible you think you are, it doesn’t matter. When couples date, they look for this big thing called compatibility. And you looked for it, too. You wanted to make sure your partner had the same likes, interests, goals, values, etc. And when you finally picked someone to marry, you picked them because you felt you two were compatible. Yeah, you knew you were going to have disagreements but if you were compatible at least then you’d know you’d be able to come up with agreeable solutions, right? Wrong.
Your parents told you that if everyone was the same that it’d be a boring world. And guess what? Your partner is not the same as you. So no matter how compatible you are, there are still lots of things that are incompatible between you. While you still share a lot of compatible values and beliefs, you will always have a lot of differing ones, too. And that’s OK. And after you’re married, if you try to convince your partner to see things the same way you do, you’re just being controlling.
Forget about compatibility and try to appreciate your partner for who they are – the same way you want them to appreciate you for who you are. Your mutual level of compatibility is not what makes your relationship successful. Your personal ability to appreciate your spouses’ differences is.
3) Sex is a lot more important than you’d imagine. Sex is the one thing you and your partner share with each other that you don’t share with anyone else. Sex is the cause and the result of feelings of love, affection, closeness and connection. If you’re not having sex, then you’re not feeling these things. And then you may as well be roommates. So make sure you have very open conversations about sex. And have them a lot. Don’t be afraid to talk about taboo topics like kink and fantasies. You might not agree with each other (see number 2 above) but that’s okay. Couples who never disagree have a lot of secrets.
About the Author:
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 overcome sexual difficulties and infidelity.