As often is the case, I was inspired by a meme on Facebook. It read, “A man has two options in a relationship: Either stand up and be the man she needs or sit down, so she can see the man behind you”. The quote is attributed to Annetta Powell. I immediately loved it because I am a champion for men who stand up, and the women who require them to. I have learned that, for some reason, a number of women are actively refusing marriage. Some have even turned down proposals even while engaging in “married people activities.” I have inquired about reasons, and plan to conduct some qualitative research on the phenomenon. Even with the explanations, I am convinced that many women do not know what a AMAZING MARRIAGE is like. What they are saying in attacking marriage is that they do not want to go through divorce or unhappiness tethered contractually to a person who does not give them the love, affection, and caring they want or need. That is understandable. But, what are you doing with the current guy in the meantime?
Are You Sure?
I get that marriage does not always look good from the outside. But, that is really the point of a good marriage. You, as an outsider, will never know the depths of the lows or the heights of the highs. The couple keeps you out of that loop on purpose. They have to work that out on their own–and maybe with the help of a confidential, ethical, competent counselor. I realize that many have not seen healthy, rewarding marriage exemplified by their parents. Uncertainty abounds due to this lack of a good example.
I want to let you in on a secret. The value of marriage, the indication of whether IT will work out or not, begins with a change to the question. Begin with, “Will I put in the work to make this work, every day, from this day forward, until death do us part?” The next question is, “Do we complement each other enough to build something other than children?”
Two Things, To Produce, Maybe Kids Too
Two things should hit you with that second question. First, marriage is rarely 50-50. What people mean to say with the 50-50 quote is a lesson about complementing one another. Each individual in a sustainable relationship brings something that the other can benefit from and a need that the other person can supply from their ability. This reciprocity results in the ability of a couple to build something bigger, more far-reaching, better than what either of the two could build alone.
Second, understand that the reason to get married is not in order to make children. I do not know if it is our “marriage before babies” current cultural refrain or the “get married and have me some babies” refrain I heard from my grandmother, but our culture seems to have connected children to marriage in a way that dismisses other potential creations that result from the union. Businesses, art, new policies, inventions, novels, and more can result from two people who complement each other’s skills and who challenge each other’s fears. Children may enjoy support and nurture when they have two healthily married parents in the home. But, that same family structure can be counter-productive when the children are the only product the couple proposes to output as the result of their union.
You and Your Spouse Make the Marriage
I want you to know that success in marriage has EVERYTHING to do with you and your spouse. I encourage you to have that conversation. Not about marriage fairy tales, horror stories, or wishful thinking, but about the life and products you two can produce together. I am certain that you want to experience success. You may also not want to be bothered, to be independent, to be autonomous. You may want to be safe, secure, certain, and confident. You may want love, attention, nurture, and consideration. You may believe yourself to be cold or loving, needy or stand-off-ish, calculating or flighty, bossy or submissive, quiet or loud. Above all, I need you to understand that someone exists who will accept you for who you are, give you what you desire, and want what you have to offer. Are you really going to sit there and tell me that you DO NOT want that? I DO NOT believe you.
[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a father of two girls and a boy. He is also a 20 year veteran husband. He works as a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]