Happy Marriage

A Happy Marriage

By Desmond Yeoh

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

Ravi and Stephen were sitting together in a playground as they watched their children play. They are both in their forties. Stephen looked haggard and he appeared as if he had not gotten a good rest for a very long time.

Ravi sensed his friend’s mood and asked, “Is something troubling you?”

Stephen was hesitant about sharing his problem with Ravi as it was an embarrassing secret but Ravi is his trusted friend and he had always turned to him for advice. He is good at hiding his emotions but today he had a big fight with his wife and he just could not pick himself up.

He sighed and said in a weak voice, “My wife and I have not been intimate for a long time. She said to me that she is just staying married to me for the sake of our children”.

Ravi listened intently and nodded to Stephen to encourage him to carry on.

Stephen continued, “This is a very heavy emotional burden for me. I have been carrying it for a year now.  We have been very critical of each other and do not have one good thing to say about each other. This is affecting every other aspects of my life, including my work,” Stephen felt his anger rising and continued, “She is not putting any effort into the marriage at all. I have tried very hard to make it work. I even took up a course to learn how to give her a massage in the hope of rekindling our passion”.

Ravi responded with sympathy, “I understand how you feel. A happy marriage can give you the strength to weather any challenges and an unhappy marriage can nullify all the other good things in your life”.

Stephen looked down and sighed.

Ravi continued, “Every marriage moves from a stage of passion to a stage of companionship. The second stage of companionship is more rewarding and fulfilling. It is the stage when unconditional love develops. It may take years to get into that stage”.

Stephen gave a nervous chuckled, “I think my marriage is stuck between these two stages”.

Ravi smiled, “I don’t think you are. Research has shown that in a happy marriage, both couples will say five good things for every bad thing said about each other”.

Stephen countered, “I have tried that but it just does not work”.

“No Stephen, you are missing the point. What you think and feel is enormously more important than what you say or do. My advice to you is to respect your wife’s wishes and at the same time, appreciate her for all the positive experiences that she has given you. Your love for her is being blotted out by your anger”.

Stephen nodded in agreement. It suddenly became clear to him. He had been so negative that there was no space in his mind to appreciate his wife. As the negativity built up, he found more reasons to push his wife away from him. He looked at his sons and the joy in their faces. Without his wife, he would not have them. He is totally grateful to her for this alone. Why has he not seen this? He felt guilty for allowing the small things to get to him to such an extent that he failed to see the big picture.

Ravi smiled as his face softened, “We are creatures of habit. If you have the habit of seeing the negative aspects of other people, you will not be able to see their good sides even if they are saints. Your habit will just prevent you from being grateful for the positive things in your life”.

Stephen started to feel defensive but he did not respond because he knew deep down that Ravi is right and has a compassionate heart. Ravi is a good friend who is unafraid of highlighting his weaknesses because he sincerely wants to help him.

Ravi continued, “I do an exercise everyday which I find very helpful. I am sure it can help you too. Every morning, I think of three new things about my wife and children which I am grateful for; just three new things each day,” Ravi paused and then cautioned Stephen, “Your habitual pattern will make it difficult for you at first but after a while, that negative habit will weaken and the new positive habit will develop. This will rekindle your love for her. It is easier to change yourself than to change others”.

Stephen knew that being grateful for the things that one has is one of the most important causes of happiness. He has many friends who have everything in the world but could not be happy because they are not contented with what they already have. This negative habitual thought pattern is keeping them from finding happiness. They could only cling on to a hope of finding happiness in the future. Stephen gave Ravi and grateful smile, “You know what, that is exactly what I will do. I do not know if it will help with my marriage but I am certain that it will at least make me a happier person. Thank you”.

Related Articles: The Emotional Bank Account, Developing the Habit of Gratitude, The Habit of Celebration, Accepting Difficult People

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