So why did you get married? Well the answer is actually quite simple. At the core of it, you thought that being married would make you feel a certain way. Of course that feeling is different for each person but the reason is the same. You simply thought that being with your spouse would provide you with a plethora of good times, children, laughter and prosperity. Oh boy, if you’ve been married for more than 5 minutes you’re probably realizing that this paradigm is in trouble.
You see, your operating system is not running on Windows 10 but rather on your values. Values are not things like family and marriage. Those are only the means by which to get to the values. Values are intangible. Many who enter into marriage commonly have values like trust, love and respect. This is what makes them tick. This sounds great but what if your spouses’ values were adventure, security (making money) and sex? You’ll find that your spouse doesn’t really get you but then again they’re saying the same thing about you. Both of you are neither right nor wrong but it’s certainly going to take a lot more work than you thought to make a go of it.
It’s all fun and games at first as you are enamored with the fantasy of having your values fulfilled through marriage. As things become increasingly difficult, many simply throw in the towel. The divorce rate in America is roughly 50%. People give up way to soon because they don’t understand why things are the way they are. The reality is that you are not going to change your spouse values (unless they want to change them). You’ve got a better chance of getting blood from a stone. After all, do you want to change who you are simply because someone else doesn’t get you? I didn’t think so.
The first thing to do is to identify what your values are. What makes you tick? Perhaps respect and financial security top the list of your values. If so when work calls on a Sunday morning and needs you to come in, are you going to leave the wife and kids behind for the extra money? You bet you will. How do you think this goes over with the wife when her values are love and contribution? She certainly doesn’t get why you would sell out the family to go to work on a Sunday and you don’t understand why she doesn’t get that Sunday pays time and a half. Both of you counsel with people of like values building a case against your spouses’ values and now you’ve got marital stress. So there you have it. Two completely different people from diverse backgrounds with different values trying to coexist for a lifetime without understanding each other’s operating system.
So what should you do?
- Stop trying to change your spouse. He or she will never let it happen. People make changes when they feel emotionally compelled to do so; not when you threaten them. We all need a model by which to follow. Be the model. If you want your spouse to be more compassionate and listen to you without judgment, then show them how. In other words, you have to become that kind of person who is compassionate and a good listener rather than the person who always brings to light that your spouse lacks the skills to be in a successful relationship. No one wants to hear about what they lack in your eyes.
- Make it all about you, not them. Ask your spouse to help you to understand how to be a better husband or wife. “Teach me how to connect with you”. Without knowing it, they will tell you their values and you will become aware of their moods and your role in it. You don’t have to change who you are; just simply become increasingly aware of your spouses’ operating system so that you can not only love them more deeply but perhaps make love to them more often as you connect with them by knowing their values. In time, they will reflect the same sentiment and now the relationship begins to grow. You become better friends and restore the trust so important in a marriage.
- Be present. When you’re with your spouse be present in that moment. Have you ever been with your husband or wife and the only thing present is their body. The mind is somewhere else and you feel like there is no connection at all. Simply tell your spouse, “honey, I am here for you”. Listen to what they’re saying and maintain eye contact. Just like when you first started dating and everything felt over the moon. Relationships don’t get old. Your operating system gets old. Do you remember Microsoft Vista? Ugh! Your relationship will need an upgrade to the operating system every once in awhile. The beauty of this is that when you’re present, you 2 can both rewrite the operating system to fit both of your needs without losing your individuality. By the way, now the kids have a platform to emulate.
- Try to better understand your spouse by putting yourself in his or her shoes. Invest yourself in their values and show them that you’re willing to put your best foot forward because you love them. Only then will they even consider investing in yours. You have to give it time as old habits die-hard. If you want to see your spouse’s values evolve then you have to change yours first.
If you want your marriage to grow, you’re going to have to improve yourself. Yes, it’s not fair but who cares? Being happy is very important in life. Being right doesn’t feel so good when you’re all alone in bed. Do whatever it takes and resist throwing in the towel too soon. There’s nothing like having a spouse that’s got your back!
Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 30 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.