There are several belief systems or philosophies that I would like to talk with you about. The reason I would like to talk about these is because they are particularly difficult to have if you want a good marriage. They literally block you from a great marriage. I have given some brief titles to them and I will expound on each one separately.
- This is just who I am
- My actions shouldn’t bother you
- You should just love me for who I am
- I have a right to
- You should just trust me
- Romantic love dies after a year or two
- I’m not the ________ type
When a married person tells their spouse “this is just who I am” this is usually an attempt to get their spouse to except their behavior. Lets dive below the surface to see what’s really happening here.
Most likely the bothered spouse has raised their objections to a specific habit or behavior that the offending spouse is doing. Generally, the offending spouse has a perspective that the offending behavior isn’t that big of a deal. The offending spouse doesn’t want to be troubled to change the behavior or habit so they come up with a statement that they feel is like checkmate. “This is just who I am”, roles off their lips so effortlessly as though there was nothing that can be done about it. An underlying belief is that the behavior isn’t that bad, so the person offended should be the one to go through the trouble to change. The offended person should practice tolerance, is the belief pattern of the offending spouse.
I will never tell you that a philosophy is wrong but I will show you how a philosophy, wrong or right, has an impact on a marriage.
In the case above, the offending spouse wants to continue their behavior. This is seen as a selfish desire that benefits the offending spouse at the expense to the offended spouse. If you were to pause and reflect on this, I think you would agree that it’s not good to benefit at your spouse’s expense. Someone must change or massive amounts of love will be destroyed.
I have found that it is much easier for the offending spouse to change their behavior because it is nearly impossible for the offended spouse to change their emotional reaction to the behavior. The offended person might even sincerely desire to change their emotional reaction but desire doesn’t get it done. Ever! Since there absolutely must be change, it would be folly to try to get the offended spouse to have a different emotional reaction.
The statement “this is who I am” is slightly misleading, so let’s examine it more closely. Who a person is, is their character or core essence. What a person does is their behavior. What a person does consistently over time, is their habits. It is much easier to change a habit than it is to change a negative emotional reaction. In fact, it’s almost impossible to change a person’s emotional reaction because it’s not within their control.
For purely pragmatic reasons I recommend that the offending spouse change their behavior. I’m not picking sides even though it may seem like it. This is what works. And when the offending spouse changes, a great marriage is in the making. When they persist to insist that the offended spouse change their emotional reaction, it never works and a bad marriage, divorce, or affair happens. I make my recommendations based on what works and what’s effective. One cannot argue with proven results. Thousands of couples have experienced a healed marriage when they have implement these recommendations.
Let’s define a great marriage. The reason two people get married in the first place is because they’re in love. When I gathered a group of couples together who had been very happily married decade after decade. I was trying to analyze what the secret was to a passionate marriage that lasts a lifetime. They all agreed that they were “in love.” When married couples are “in love” nobody’s talking about a divorce. Ever! This is a profound discovery!
The emotion of love goes by many names, romantic love, the in love feeling, a feeling of an incredible attraction, chemistry, passion. All of these phrases express this one emotion that from here on out I will refer to as romantic love. It is this very powerful emotion that is the reason why two people agree to forsake all others and to make a lifelong commitment to each other. This emotion is a powerful motivator.
If a person repeatedly performs a behavior that bothers their spouse, this is a Love-Unwinder. We here at Marriage Partners Ministry have a proprietary vernacular for this particular type of Love-Unwinder. We call this annoying behavior and possibly also independent behavior. Love-unwinders destroy romantic love very quickly. They destroy the very essence of a good marriage.
The second disruptive philosophy on our list is “my actions shouldn’t bother you.” Imagine if you went outside on a very hot day. It is so hot and sweaty that you feel extremely uncomfortable. You would like nothing more than to get inside where there’s a nice cool air conditioning system running. What if several of your friends said “we don’t feel hot, it’s only ninety degrees outside this shouldn’t bother you.” In this scenario, you might agree that you shouldn’t be bothered or maybe you don’t agree but one thing remains. No matter what, you are bothered!
Your desire to not be bothered doesn’t change a single thing. Being bothered is to have a negative emotional reaction to the event or to a person’s actions. It might be true that someone’s actions shouldn’t bother you but that doesn’t change the fact that you are bothered. I’m not sure how many ways I can say the same thing to get the main point to sink in. With all due respect, I want to sincerely help you with your marriage so being convincing is my goal here.
The third philosophy on our list is “you should just love me for who I am.” This phrase comes from a person who doesn’t fundamentally understand how the feeling of romantic love is created, sustained, and destroyed. This type of belief says “I have great intrinsic value as a human being who intends well.” “If I bother you or if I have bad behavior you should see through that to my good intentions and the good spirit that’s in me” “Any negative behavior is very minor compared to the goodness that is within me.” This type of belief comes from misunderstanding the different kinds of love. The God kind of love is what we all seek. The God kind of love, loves us all no matter what we do or say. This type of love is not emotional it is spiritual.
Romantic love is very dependent upon how we behave, how we make each other feel, how we talk to each other. Nobody will ever have a romantic love toward another person, who isn’t performing Love-Raisers and who is doing Love-Unwinders. If you find yourself doing Love-Unwinders and asserting the belief that “you should just love me for who I am,” I’m afraid you’re going to be destroying your marriage.
The fourth philosophy is “I have a right to_______.” A young man flew me in for some personalized marriage coaching. This young man we will call Bob for purposes of privacy. Bob was a real “go-getter”, a type “A” personality. He was accustomed to getting things done promptly and in the quickest way possible. Bob’s wife was a stay at home mom. Her, agreed upon, duties around the home included cleaning of the home. Bob would frequently wear his shoes in the house particularly when he was in a big hurry, which unfortunately was often. Bob’s wife unimposingly hinted that she didn’t like it when he would wear his shoes in the house. But Bob continued to do so because he didn’t think it was that big of a deal and because “he felt he had a right to.”
Bob was a tuff nut to crack because he couldn’t see how his actions were directly destroying romantic love in his marriage. I took Bob’s side of the perspective. I told him, you do have a right to wear your shoes in your own home. You pay the bills. You live here too. If it weren’t for you there wouldn’t even be a house. You get in such big hurry’s trying to support your family with a great income. Others just don’t understand the full amount of stress your under and a quick run into the house while leaving your shoes on shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
I could tell that Bob was locked onto his perspective like a bull dog. It is very common that decisive people make a decision, or form a belief, then they rarely reconsider their position. When a decisive person is challenged on their perspective, their brains automatically tend to come up with Supportive Logical Reasoning’s(SLR’s) and additional proof that their perspective is right emerges from the creative constructs of their brain. Their subconscious aim (consciously unaware) is to support their perspective, aggressively if needed. They typically tend not to re-evaluate the perspective as a whole. This kind of person isn’t a bad person. Their brains have a hardwired pattern regarding how to handle an opposing perspective. Thoughtful consideration, curiosity, and question asking would be a more helpful hardwiring but Bob has not yet cultivated this habit. Bob was experiencing a cognitive error called consistency bias. This is a very common error and it has singlehandedly destroyed more marriages than any other cognitive bias.
I explained to Bob that he does have a right to wear his shoes in his house, leave the toilet seat in any position he likes, leave lights turned on, leave a dish on the counter top, but there’s a more important dynamic taking place that should be considered.
These rights have a COST! The cost is romantic love. Even if your spouse agrees that you have a right to do various things that bother him/her, there is still a cost. When something bothers your spouse, this creates a negative emotional reaction. Nobody can control or stop the negative emotional reaction. Including the person having the negative emotional reaction. At Marriage Partners Ministry, we refer to these as Love-Unwinders. If a person performs enough Love-Unwinders their spouse will no longer love them and if they continue performing them then their spouse will grow to be repulsed by them. We have a Home DVD Study Course that explains how all of these dynamics work and flow together.
As I mentioned Bob was a tuff nut to crack. He came back with, “well, these things shouldn’t bother her.” I referred Bob to the appropriate section in Broken Philosophy that addressed this belief and Bob’s eyes were opened! Another marriage saved!
The fifth Broken Philosophy is “you should just trust me.” I commonly hear this when one spouse wants to do something that makes the other spouse feel uncomfortable (it bothers the offended spouse). It might be a flirty relationship outside of the marriage, or it might be a risky business proposition. If it bothers your spouse it is a Love-Unwinder.
I would like you to notice that I used two judgement words above, risky and flirty. These are judgements that one spouse believes or feels and the other typically does not. A judgement is ones perspective on a given topic. If a person’s spouse has a different perspective on the very same topic, then this is the very definition of a conflict. In this case, it is a conflict of perspectives. Marriage Partners Ministry has a course called marital negotiation. This course will help you to resolve conflicts of any kind, in this case a conflict of perspective, in a way that creates and sustains the feeling of romantic love.
I usually recommend that if something makes you feel uncomfortable or bothers you, it is best to mention your bothered in a way that removes the judgement. That way there is one less dynamic to contend with. A judgement can be argued, risky vs. not. What can’t be argued is the fact that it bothers you. It is easier to resolve conflict by not clouding the most important point. Adding a judgement clouds the primary point that you are bothered and directs attention to the validity of the judgement.
The offending spouse is framing this conflict as a trust problem. While it’s partially true that there’s not enough trust that everything will work out beautifully, the real main problem is in this couples understanding of marital conflict and how to do it in such a way that sustains love.
Let’s examine trust. I would trust Warren Buffett, the billionaire, to handle my finances for me because of his proven track history. Would I trust a new financial advisor with all my finances? No. Because there isn’t a long enough track history of success. If this new financial advisor was my spouse would I trust them? Still the answer is no. I trust my spouse would have my best interests at heart but I wouldn’t trust their skills because of a lack of a track record. What is a long enough track record? It is very subjective and every individual will have their own opinions of this. Trust is either there or it’s not. A person can’t desire to trust and then therefore trust. It is not a decision. It is a subjective belief that is formed based on an individual’s experiences. If a person gives in to spousal pressure and says ok I trust you. They have lied to you. What they are actually saying is I don’t trust you but you have convinced me that there is something wrong with me for not trusting you, so I’m going to give you, reluctantly, permission to do the thing your wanting to do.
Why are people so tempted to use this philosophies tactic? Because they don’t have the skillset of marital negotiation in a way that doesn’t use demands, guilt, or just capitulating on their own desires. This is the reason why you will find our course on Marital Negotiation so helpful!
The sixth Broken Philosophy is romantic love dies after a year or two. I would like to be very clear right from the get go. This notion is a complete LIE!! One out of five marriages are a passionate marriage that lasts a lifetime. This amounts to millions of couples that sustained their emotion of being “in love” for many decades. For them, romantic love doesn’t die! Many couples take Marriage Partners Ministry pre-marital counseling course and they start off their marriages on the right foot. We survey these couples for ten years and have found that the vast majority of them sustain their love for each other.
You might be wondering why some people believe that romantic love dies in a year or two of marriage. I have found that this misunderstanding has been handed down through many generations and then it is spoken of as though if it were truth. People tend to take their own experiences and state them as though everyone will experience the same thing. Many people have experienced their own romantic love fluttering away after a year or so. So, they advise other couples not to expect the feeling of romantic love to last. This is advice of the worst kind because it doesn’t have to be that way. The term used is, to fall out of love. Though many do fall out of love. They don’t have to! This philosophy prevents people from even trying to sustain love and in my opinion is the worst misunderstanding one can have.
The phrase “falling in love” and “falling out of love,” is very misleading. Let me explain. Many people have never heard our teaching and they have no idea how to create or sustain romantic love. For these people “falling into or out of” will be by accident and will seem kind of mysterious. It is only mysterious to those who are ignorant about these things. It is my passion to help you and to save millions of marriages. I want to take the mystery out of how you can sustain your love for your spouse and vice versa. Marriage Partners Ministry offers a Home DVD Study Course that will teach you how to create and sustain romantic love. This course has helped save thousands of marriages and I’m convinced you will really enjoy it!
The seventh Broken Philosophy is I’m not the _____ type. Occasionally, When I’m coaching a couple to meet each other’s intimate emotional needs one spouse will object by saying, “I’m not the affectionate type.” This is just an example and other examples might be I’m not the sexual type, I’m not the conversational type, I’m not the admiring type, etc.
The meeting of each other’s intimate emotional needs are Love-Raisers. If a philosophy, such as this one, gets in the way of you performing Love-Raisers then you will not be able to sustain romantic love.
When someone says, they are not a certain type, this actually means they have not yet created a habit of this certain type of behavior. I have very good news for you! Since what we are talking about is a habit or in this case lack of a habit, there can be change.
If you go home every night after work, plop down on the couch, and watch television all night long, you will develop the habit of laziness. If you continue this behavior for 60 days you will cement this habit. The same works if you want to develop the habit of becoming affectionate, for example. In our Home DVD Study Course, we ask the wife to define affection in action steps that anyone can understand and follow. When her husband follows the action steps every single day, he will develop the habit of being very affectionate.
Keep in mind that when you begin any knew routine or habit it will feel kind of awkward at first but once the habit is formed and cemented, it will feel very natural. You’re not going to let a little awkward feeling prevent you from having a beautiful marriage, are you? Just like a new exercise routine feels awkward at first. All it takes is a few weeks of doing the same exercises and the movements tend to feel very comfortable and natural. The same is true when developing any new habits.
I sincerely hope you have found this to be helpful. If you have PLEASE help me help people by sharing this with your friends on Facebook or other social media. Remember, what you make happen for others God will make happen for you!