Marriage has always been complicated. With each new generation, there seems to be new expectations or stipulations. Of course, many of the problems have remained the same, but with figuring out how equality looks like for a man and woman in the marriage, then that's where the complicated part comes in.
We all know that marriage is a partnership and we need to do our equal share, so why don't we treat it as if it were as important as a business partnership?
Sounds a bit cold and unromantic, but if it were a business partnership, we would probably do whatever we could to make it work because relationships and money were at stake.
So then this prompts the questions, how would this make my marriage better? And, how do I do this?
Well, I'll answer the first question for you quickly. Your partner is going to feel respected, appreciated, like you're on their team, loved, that you can be trusted, and they'll feel taken seriously. Some great benefits for your marriage, right? I mean, it'll help it last, so where could you go wrong?
But now the second question, "How do I do this?"
For some, it may be obvious, but a lot of us out there didn't grow up with the best examples on marriage and partnership. Some grew up in a house with parents that didn't see their spouse as a partner at all or their parents taught them nothing on the subject.
So in answering that question, I'll give you some tips on how to be an equal partner and improve your marriage.
1. Give and take
It's a basic concept in life and it applies strongly to marriage. So here's a quick example of give and take in your relationship that will help give you perspective on how to view it and take action.
Your spouse comes home exhausted from work and is probably hungry. Who wouldn't be? Well whether you're the man or woman in the situation, your circumstances or how you feel about the situation can vary.
Maybe you don't have enough energy yourself to cook them a meal, you don't feel confident in your cooking skills, or you feel like that's something they can do themselves.
Now some of these are understandable, but so much of the time, giving back can challenge us to fight any selfishness we have. So what if you heated up some leftovers, got take out, or even made something quick and easy earlier on in the day? Then how much do you think they'd feel taken care of or even respected?
This is all a part of give and take, you're giving them something so you can take what they offer you in return. It's a healthy cycle and you want to keep it balanced.
Now give and take can almost sound selfish, but it has nothing to do with giving and expecting something in return. If someone takes too much from the person that gives too much, then pretty soon the person that gives won't have anything left to give. You want to make sure they feel taken care of and loved so that a rift or a wall of hurt isn't built up between the two of you.
2. Supporting goals
You know the saying about how you have to look after your own dreams and goals, otherwise no one else will? For a lot of people, this is true, they're the only ones pursuing their dreams because no one is helping or cares like how they do.
But as a spouse, you can't let this happen. You have to take partnership in our spouse's dreams. It'll only bring you both closer when you work on it together. Let them know that you support them in their desires and show them by doing things to push it forward.
This could mean that they want to be able to travel for six months to a year and see the world or they have a dream of pursuing a career that takes a certain degree. So do the research with or even apart from them. See how much things cost, what you need to learn, and what steps you both need to take to get to that dream or goal.
Just start by asking them what their dream is. Then, ask them what you can do to help them make it happen and then just do it. Go forward in what you'll say you'll do and work as a team with them and pretty soon your spouse is going to see how much you care and do the same for you (see how give and take can apply here as well?).
3. Build up
What I've been taught is that if you're hurting your spouse, you're also hurting yourself. You're making them build up walls between the two of you so they can't get hurt by you, which in turn hurts you. It damages your relationship and makes it harder for forgiveness to run through the both of you.
For some of us, our main reaction when our spouse does something we disapprove of, don't like, or feel frustrated with, is to ridicule them or cut them down to size.
But you have to remember that you're on the same team; you're partners. So yes, you might be frustrated or irritated but the best thing you can do is to hold back anything that would tear them down. And sometimes, they might be seeking or wanting forgiveness and so we should offer it freely. Then you can reinforce the healthy cycle of give and take, because at some point, you're going to mess up and need the same kind of forgiveness as well.
Keeping a healthy view on your spouse and your role in the relationship is a great way to set up a strong partnership.
Individuality and independence is so emphasized in our society that when it comes to making big decisions, we don't usually consider consulting our spouse. Because sometimes, even if you feel that you shouldn't have to ask them about it, that you should be able to act independently from them, your decision doesn't just affect you, it can affect them as well. Which is why it's so important to discuss it with them and hear their feedback.
If a large sum of money is going to be used for a purchase or it's a life decision, talk to them about it and see how they feel. Then the both of you can trust each other that they have the others best interest at heart and you wouldn't do anything without hearing them out because you respect them.
With all this being said, marriage is a lot of work, so that's why it's so important to do our equal share in the work. Then something healthy can be built and both partners can be happy with how they've grown together and not apart.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Chasing Foxes. It has been modified and republished here with permission.