I Have a Masters Degree in Marriage Therapy, but I Almost Destroyed My Own Marriage

All those years of analyse relationships in grad school gave me a wealth of knowledge about how to have a successful marriage, but living that knowledge is an entirely different story.

By Christine Suhan

Marriage is hard. Ill be the first to admit all those years of studying relationships in graduate school gave me a wealth of knowledge about how to have a successful matrimony, but living that knowledge is an entirely different narrative. My marriage is a constant work in progressemphasis on work.

My husband and I run really hard at practising love . Loving each other well takes endless practice; we can both be very selfish people. Most people have a natural tendency toward self-preservation, which is why relationships are so difficult. We are wired to take care of ourselves first; its natural instinct. Often, taking care of ourselves goes at the expense of others. Having a loving relationship with someone, especially a spouse, is a constant practice of putting the other persons needs ahead of your own, which can be quite uncomfortable.

I love my husband, but some days I love myself more. Days when Im busy loving myself, expectations of how he should be treating me and what I guess I deserve start to creep into my supposes. Instead of greeting the working day with an attitude of service, looking for routes in which I can be helpful to him, I fulfill the working day with a listing of selfish passions and an attitude of entitlement. With the latter, I am inevitably defining myself up for frustration, anger and resentment.

When we had our first infant, it became painfully obvious to me how often I lived with a sense of entitlement and a list of expectations. The wonderful world of parentingand by wonderful I entail crazy hard, insanely frustrating, yet most amazingbrought with it a rating card I tucked away in my brain. Each day I sacrificed myself for the good of my family, I made a mental note. My spouse now owed me.

I get up last night, so he should be the one to wake up with the baby tonight . I induced dinner yesterday, why isnt he offering to induce dinner today ? He went golfing last weekend; its my turn to do something fun .

The more I kept score, the more resentful I became. My own indignation and self-pity were taking away the exhilaration of parenting, precious moments with my newborn baby. My husband and I were scarcely speaking; and when we did talk to each other, it quickly turned into a fight. We both spent so much day keeping score, hurling our sacrificial deeds in one another faces and demanding our expectations be met that we were missing out on having a relationship. We were missing out on enjoying the beautiful newborn we had created together. Our family was falling apart, and we were to blame.

Rebuilding our relationship took time, endeavour and patience. We didnt shred the score cards right away, but we were so desperate to let go of the thick wall of indignation between us that we were ready to work. And we worked hard.

We learned to let go of expectations by asking ourselves each morning, How can I be of service to my spouse today? This simple guessed shifted my entire view. Instead of looking at him with a critical eye and judging him for what he did or did not do for me, I was able to look at him with love. Pure, genuine, altruistic love.We now have three children and a fairly hectic life. We both spread ourselves very thin trying to be the best parents and spouses we can be. We are by no means perfect at it. Sometimes, the score cards come out. Our marriage ebbs and flows, but we are committing to a lifetime of continuous practicepractice that includes letting run of expectations so we can be of service.

Love through service is a pretty great style to love.

** This article first appeared on SheKnows .

About the Author : Christine Suhan is a spouse, stay at home mother to three wild toddler boys and writer/ creator at www.feelingsandfaith.net. She has a masters degree in marriage and family therapy and enjoys helping people through openly and honestly sharing her journey of life, recovery, mental illness, matrimony, parenting and more. You can also find her on her Facebook page .

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