Categories
Wellness

How To Win The Battle Of Marriage: 4 Tools In The Kitchen

Get the basics down – a good sense of humor and a commitment to communicate and be vulnerable is key.  Be flexible. Get help from people who understand your life.  Never stop asking questions and doing research online.  Make the hard decisions.  Always ask your doctor about other things in the household.

We live in a world that is awash with romantic and sexual metaphors. A lot of us have been taught to think about “love” in the familiar terms of romantic commitment – love at first sight (aka first time), falling in love and marriage, and the ever-appealing idea that two people feel an intimate bond that defines them for the rest of their lives. But love is not a binary process. The fact is that love and commitment are both experiences:  They are multifaceted and they involve a spectrum of emotions. As you can imagine, this is complicated in our culture, in which we value romantic relationship – which often means marriage – but we frequently have unrealistic expectations of the kind of relationships that produce meaningful, long-lasting love.

These myths also reflect a reality of women’s lives in a society dominated by gender stereotypes of the kind that encourage women to be sexually subservient to men and sexually passive; of young women being pressured to have sex at school for “good grades”; of women having to work hard to have a relationship. This myth also ignores the powerful role of culture in shaping our sexual expectations, and how, as a society, we have been conditioned to assume “good” is synonymous with “sexually desirable.”

It is not only romantic love that we need to think about – there is also social and cultural love.  All of us deserve love from each other.  All of us are capable of loving others.  We can all find fulfillment in making our partners happy, by being responsive to their needs and feelings, by giving them what they need in a healthy way, and most importantly by being kind.  These are the things that keep relationships alive.

The following are some of my tips for finding love and fulfilling relationships, based on my own experience and a wealth of research from women and their partners who have been there before me.

1. Have a sense of what love is and is not.

Love is an experience, and an experience is shaped by your interpretation of what good love actually is.  Do you love the person so much that your relationship is impossible without them?  Do your partners love you so much that you cannot imagine living without them?  Do you love them so much that your mind can’t imagine anything better?  If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s probably because you didn’t pay enough attention to what love is all about beforehand.  Love comes in many flavors – “tangible” love, emotional and spiritual love, and mental love.  There is no one-size-fits-all definition of the best sort of love.

2. Realize that love has many dimensions.

“Love is not about getting what you want (and want you need)” (Harlow, 1989).  A good relationship is a mutual exchange of needs, and most people find different needs satisfying under different circumstances.  So there will be an overlap between your needs and the needs of those around you.  Sometimes you need to be with someone to feel good about yourself; sometimes you need to be with someone because you want them to be happy; other times, your needs will coincide with those of family.  And sometimes you need and crave someone in order to keep from being alone in the world.

Love isn’t a box you tick, it’s a living, breathing thing.  You’re not a box!  You’re just a bunch of parts.  And when you have parts that are working well together, then you’ll find that you don’t have to struggle too much to have a really good relationship.  But if we assume a box is a thing we can put together and then put away and expect things to just automatically work out, then we do tend to get a bit stuck in the “box” model of relationships.

3.