Congratulations. You’ve found your soul mate. She’s lovely. I hope the two of you will have a wonderful time sharing your lives together, building a home, raising fabulous children, and enjoying every inch of each other on your journey.
And I mean it. But there’s more. Here’s what you don’t want to hear, what you may think, in your current honeymoon haze, wouldn’t apply to you. But I assure you that any veteran couple would have my back on this.
If you’re man enough to make that all-important decision to get married, then you ought to be man enough to prepare for the inevitable trials and tribulations, pain and suffering, frustration and resentment that are part and parcel of a long-term, committed relationship.
I don’t want to rain on your parade. But I do want you to have your eyes wide open so that you have the greatest chance possible to build the relationship you now envision, and not one that’s passionless or broken, like many relationships you’ve seen in your lifetime.
The statistics on marriage are questionable. Although it’s been reported for years that over 50% of marriages end in divorce, researchers disagree on the veracity of the numbers. Nevertheless, anecdotally I can tell you that successful marriages (which I’ll define in a moment) are not a sure thing. In fact, if you’re not conscious, you’re likely to end up not particularly satisfied in your long-term relationship, at least based on the fear, ignorance, and resentment that have brought men and couples into my office to work on their unhappy unions.
Before and After
So what’s a successful marriage? Well, let’s start where you are right now and list what’s great about your relationship:
- You have fun.
- You can talk easily.
- Sex is great.
- You never or rarely argue.
- You easily work through problems.
- You love spending all of our time together sharing the same interests.
OK, that’s a good start. Now let me share a comparable list from a man who’s been married for a while:
- I can’t remember the last time I had real fun.
- She doesn’t listen.
- Sex is infrequent and routine, or almost non-existent.
- We argue all the time.
- Everything’s a problem with her.
- I have no guy friends and I’m bored, numb, or lazy.
This list is not an exaggeration. These words actually come out of the mouths of many men. And sometimes these men have not been married very long. That’s why it’s critical to pay attention NOW, and to do what’s necessary to be prepared to have a successful, fulfilling, loving and vibrant marriage.
Are you ready to hear what you’ll need to do to have that successful relationship you want? I ask because it takes work. Sit in a circle with a group of men, which I do several times a week, and you will hear just how challenging it is for them to be in their relationships. You’ll hear about their frustration, anxiety, fear, doubt and arguments over money, kids, sex, career, his time, her demands and much more.
So let’s get out of this problem and focus on the solution.
Here are a few suggestions:
It’s an inside job.
Most of the conflict you’ll experience in your relationship will reflect your personal unresolved issues. That means the sadness, resentment and anger you’re still carrying from your childhood. You can try to push it down, deny it or distract yourself with all sorts of activities, substances and other addictions. But it ain’t goin’ away!
Do you find yourself avoiding conflict and being a pleaser because it feels easier that way? Is she going along with you because it’s easier for her when you tend to act like a bully, because you’re so smart and have all the answers?
It’s worth every penny to get the support from a counselor/coach/therapist who will help you recognize how your behavior today is connected to your past, and what to do to make positive changes so you can be the best man, father and husband possible.
Have those difficult conversations.
Talking now may be rather easy for the two of you. But are you having the tough talks? For instance, have you shared all of your sexual fantasies? Or are you holding back because you know she wouldn’t approve? Trust me, these desires WILL NOT go away. And if you don’t find a way to work them out with her, you will either act them out with another woman or women, build resentment that’ll poison your relationship, or sexually turn off, which will kill your relationship. It happens all the time.
Let men support you.
Spending less time with your buddies? Don’t have close male friends? Getting nervous about being a dad because you didn’t have a great example? Feel uncomfortable around men because you’ve tended to hang around women all your life? These are all excellent reasons to develop trusting relationships with men.
To be the best man you can be, I firmly believe you need to be in the company of other men. These guys will hold you accountable, tell you the truth about what it’s like being with you when you’re selfish, angry or defensive, and they’ll share their wisdom with you about sex and romance, fathering, and growing older with the woman you love.
Marriage can be a wonderful experience. But it takes work. The good news is what awaits you when you’re willing to do that work. You’ll have a woman who feels safe, secure, cherished, and adored. And when you have that, you’ll be able to build upon what is now a glorious relationship.