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Want a Happy Marriage? Follow This Rule



Want a Happy Marriage? Follow This Rule

Follow this single guideline for a happy marriage

As much as we wish it were not so or seek to dress this wolf in sheep’s clothing, marriage (like any committed relationship) involves obligation.  No amount of denial, bargaining, anger or depression allows us to escape this reality.  We all sense it – the burden of knowing that we “owe” our spouse something.  But exactly what is it that we owe?  Sex?  Paychecks? Childcare and household chores?  Emotional support?

In the beginning (while we’re in the neurochemically-altered state of infatuation), we feel neither obligated nor burdened.  We believe that we have found the one person with whom we will endlessly enjoy free give-and-take and positive feelings.  As infatuation fades, however, perspectives change.

Incompatibilities steal focus and disenchantment confronts us.  Give-and-take and positive feelings no longer seem effortless.  We struggle to find a satisfying balance between freedom to meet our own needs and wants and responsibility to consider our spouse’s needs and wants.  We do what comes naturally, and the situation worsens. We seek the counsel of outsiders and try their occasionally contradictory dos and don’ts, and further complicate things.

Enough already!  It’s not that complicated. There is only one marital obligation – self-responsibility.Self-responsible Spouse Everybody Marries the Wrong Person presents the new marriage paradigm, Self-responsible Spouse.  Self-responsible spouses emotionally grow themselves up.  Self-responsible spouses channel energy toward managing their own expectations and reactions, dark moods and insecurities.  Self-responsible spouses no longer subject their partners to scrutiny, criticism, and demands that they become more like their idealized “right person.”  (For details, see previous posts – “New Marriage Paradigm – Self-responsible Spouse,”  “How to Train Your Dragon,”  “Is your partner a matrimonial slacker?”)Practicing self-responsibility brings couples as close as humanly possible to a marital state of grace.  Neither spouse keeps track of what is sacrificed or what is owed.  Both spouses fulfill the obligation to grow themselves up.Fourteenth-century Sufi poet Hafiz puts it this way:

Even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.


Christine Meinecke received a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas in 1983. She interned at Colorado State University Counseling Center and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Meinecke is in her nineteenth year of full-time private practice in Des Moines, Iowa. Prior to entering private practice, she worked in hospital mental health settings She has taught psychology and psychotherapy classes to undergraduates, graduate students, and medical residents. She is also a playwright. Her full-length, comedic play, Flutter the Dovecotes, was the 2009 winner of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop competition and was premiered by Tallgrass Theatre Company in January 2010. For more information about Flutter the Dovecotes click ”works” tab. For thirty-plus years, she has practiced yoga and taught yoga classes in various settings. She met her beloved wrong person while both were graduate students at University of Kansas. They have been married twenty-nine years.

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