I shared a six-hour drive with a lovely woman, the kind you could describe as an open book. “My emotions are all over. I am married to a narcissist.” She said one hour into the drive. “Girlfriend, marriage is a hard nut to crack.” I replied, reflecting on mine.
“Nah…I married the wrong one.” We both went quiet, pondering, reflecting. Is there a right one out there? Could all these troubled marriages be a result of marrying the wrong spouse? Ever wondered, what if? What if I had married Mathew? Carol?
Would it have turned out better if we had ended up together? Would we have let our unresolved traumas bring out the worst of each other or would we have grown our puppy love into something deeper, intimate, a romance of the century? Would we have built a legacy of a lovely friendship from our marriage relationship for our children to emulate? Or, would we have perpetuated a hurtful culture and dysfunctional relationship?
If you ever wonder whether you married the wrong spouse, here are some pointers and what you can do about it before it is too late to salvage your relationship.
If your fights and disagreements are more than your moments of peace and harmony, then there is a problem. Conflict is inevitable and healthy, but if it turns into a norm, then be careful. Unresolved conflict grows into a toxic wound that can lead to irreconcilable differences, which leads to irreversible damage to the relationship.
On the same breadth, if your priorities do not align and you have a clash of values, you have a dead end of a relationship. To avoid the dimming of your inner light, you must find ways to live out your values even when your spouse does not ascribe to them.
For example, kindness and giving bring inner joy. A value like fidelity, when not shared has led many marriages to a bitter demise. You married the wrong one if you are intentional about honesty, but your spouse has no honest bone in them. You cannot change a person. You learn to adapt. When a spouse is dishonest, you live by the mantra of our security officers. Trust no one, suspect everyone!
Do you have free access to each other’s phones? Can you leave them with your phone for an hour and can they do the same with you? Trust issues such as how they deal with finances, family and other people create irreparable cracks in a marriage. Someone said that trust is like glass, once broken, it can never be the same again.
I have come to learn that trust is the most precious of values if a marriage is to go past any obstacle. When you know that your spouse has your back and that they can trust you with theirs, you can surmount anything. Without trust, a relationship is in a vegetative state.
If you two have nothing to talk about, no shared jokes to laugh about and no friendship or companionship to nurture, then sorry guys, you are with the wrong one. If any of you have an emotional connection with someone else of the opposite gender, trouble is in the offing.
But, before you ran to dump your wrong spouse, remember this; there is no perfect human being. In fact, anyone you could have married would have turned out the wrong one! This is because we marry based on expectations. Long before we marry our spouses, we fantasised about them, based on what we had heard, read, seen, and imagined.
Between the imagined versus the reality is a huge gap, which makes us feel a tad cheated. Unless your spouse is abusive – this is unacceptable and should not be tolerated – you need to start the process of managing expectations. To save yourself premium tears, there are expectations that you must simply let go.
Focus on the positives of the realities than the shortfalls based on your expectations. Accept them for who they are, flaws included, and remain humbled by the fact that you too are highly flawed.
Put in the hard work of being the right one for your spouse, as they do the same. This is a continuous process of learning, growing, healing, being better, unlearning and accepting.
Finally, please, seek a trained therapist to help you both figure out healthier ways to handle conflict, face your individual recognised or unrecognised traumas and become better humans.
Karimi is a wife and mother who believes marriage is worth it.