Without meaning to people quite deliberately—albeit slowly—chip away at, scar and eventually undermine their relationships to the point that without intervention they will eventually topple.
Despite our for better or for worse statements during our wedding services, most of us quietly and subtly shifted our sense of things to the point where 90% of our exchanges are requests for things and only 10% are offers of assistance. Of course, during the dating phase it was almost exactly the opposite—which is why it went so well. At that stage you’re upset when people do things for you because you can’t do things for them fast enough. And then you do what an unconscious mind does—you start to take things you see regularly for granted. As though they will always happen when that is simply not true.
And so a tired husband comes home to a tired wife because of a tired job and a tired two year old and everyone wants. Because we used to live in tribes and we went slower, and we were more connected and a part of each others lives and that helped way more than technology ever could. We not only had help, we also get a sense of value and connection. But now advertisers want us to be iNdividuals, so we cove ourselves off in individual boxes called houses and instead of connecting with people that can help us, instead we connect with celebrities at a distance through, at best Twitter, and at worst just by watching some reality show. People aren’t failing when couples fight like. Life’s strenuous today. We’ve quite literally built an inhumane society.
Far from serving people, most of our inhumanity is designed to support our institutions (governments, bureaucracies, companies etc.), our beliefs (the economy, money, time), and our status (homes, clothing, cars). A huge percentage of Earthlings are essentially slaves to their employers (hard-working people will worry when they’re five minutes late to their job), and they’ll buy cars they can’t afford and clothes that aren’t comfortable to wear all because of what they believe those things will cause other people to think. Wow. When we’re dressing for other people—when we’re buying shoes to impress others—we’re full-on living an ego-based life. We’ll literally suffer to be liked. Ouch.
So everyone’s racing on this crazy sideways roundabout treadmill and people they don’t even have time to find a way off. And the centrifugal force of its spinning nature creates impacts between people that aren’t really between the people, they’re generated by the tiredness and stresses created by the trajectories generated by the spinning. In the middle of it is some couple with a screaming two year old and there’s no getting around the fact that that is just really really hard; that we’re at a time in history when our culture and society have made that much harder than it needs to be. Because every parent knows that someone else being there means that—even if it’s just for a few minutes—they can get little things done that make a huge difference. It’s why Japan’s government invests in those group play centers in their neighbourhoods, or why Indian or Chinese families often have several generations in one house. It makes people closer and it makes everyone’s life better when we all share the load.
A marriage can die a death of a thousand small cuts. Don’t start to develop resentments. Don’t come home assuming your partner has extra energy with which to help you past your challenges. You’re better to assume they could benefit from your help because for everyone that’s basically always true. And if you both think that way you’ll be in a giving mood more often. And two people in a state of giving and appreciation have way more fun and use way less energy than two people taking and wanting.
Save your marriage with a thousand tiny strokes. Little moments of physicality, putting your phone down when you talk to them, caring about what they care about, and helping.
Use your marriage to give yourself a great life. It happens when two people enact simple acts of kindness and then repeat that over decades. It really works.