To Have a Happy Marriage, You Need to Increase Your Self-Mastery

Noemi J. Mullins

What makes a marriage successful? People want healthy relationships but struggle to find the right way. What is the difference between a couple being able to tell when their partner has a problem and not knowing how to make it work? This ability is crucial for building long-lasting and successful marriages. Couples can recognize their partner’s facial expressions, body language and other signs of distress.

A love seat in these relationships conflicts is not a loving seat. It’s too small and too far between the couple for any real connection. Why do people in love sometimes get stuck at crossroads?

Brains are wired for relationships, so why all the conflict??

You likely already know that survival is what our brains do best. Fear and other threatening situations can trigger unpleasant emotions like fear. These feelings signal that we need to be safe until we feel secure again. These intense emotions are often triggered by someone we love and have a deep relationship with. Every couple’s approach to safety may look different. One partner may yell, criticize or drink excessively, while the other might pout. This is our survival brain at work. Our brains are wired to connect and build relationships.

Although human beings are indeed wired to seek connection, we also learn about it growing up. You might have been raised by loving, supportive parents and had a more stable attachment than someone surrounded by chaos, alcoholism, violence, or both. When we are young, our brains are programmed and constructed with billions of neurons and trillions upon connections. Our experiences shape our brain architecture. These impressions create and define our reality. Every person has a different perspective. As a couple, it is important to try to understand one another. For our partner to be happy, we must build strong bridges of compassion and empathy.

Clients often tell me that if he loved me, then he wouldn’t ignore me. She can’t possibly care for me when she talks to my like that. He wouldn’t work so many hours if it was for me. “All she does it to me is criticize. There is no such thing as enough. There are many stories, but this storyline focuses on how we interpret the behavior of others based on how WE view the world and the decisions that our brains make about love, relationships, and ourselves.

Why do we hurt the ones we love?

Growing up, I woke up to The Supremes and Diana Ross every night when I went to bed. My brother loved their music and would play them until the record was slowed down. The Supremes sold more records in the mid-60s than any other band, except the Beatles. (Ha! My brother bought most of them!) They played to the heartstrings and felt the pain of love, which is perhaps why they were so beloved. They sang about heartbreak, similar to today’s songwriter and singer Adele.

As a child, one particular line stuck in my brain: “You never hurt the one that you love.” As a child, I clearly recall thinking, “Why would anyone hurt someone you love!” These lyrics are much easier to understand after decades of marriage.

Lieberman says, “Our brains form the core of our social self.” We are wired to love. Without connection and relationships, we cannot thrive. And our partner can hurt us like none other. The possibility that our partner may abandon us, ignore, hurt or leave us is a real risk. How can we, as humans, overcome our natural fear of rejection and hurt to create a happy and healthy relationship? Is it possible to have a secure and happy marriage that is both long-lasting and life-giving?

Self-awareness is essential for mature and unconditional love

Unloving behavior in relationships is often seen as evidence that a partner doesn’t care about them. They may even say that they are “fallen out” of love. Raw behaviors could indicate a stronger relationship.

What is the secret to this?

The honeymoon phase ends; love must mature. As a couple grows in safety, we can relax and let our guard down. In a committed relationship, we become more open and transparent when our partner accepts us as we are. We often feel more vulnerable and open when our trust is built.

As we trust more and open up to others, we often feel the need to share feelings that we didn’t know how to. These feelings can be a result of past pain that was long ago. It could be past hurts or childhood trauma that causes us to lash out at each other. These unresolved wounds and emotions need to be addressed, reframed and healed. To heal and make a relationship more healthy, conscious, secure and happy, you must mature. As if there were a physical injury with an infection, a doctor would use a lance to remove it. Otherwise, the body won’t be able to heal the wound properly.

To build a healthy, lasting relationship, we must let go of the past pain that has created scabs and distance. Filters that are based on hurtful memories can distort how we see our partner’s words or actions. This will reaffirm our old and false beliefs. We might say, “I should’ve known better than not to trust him.” Or “I thought she was different but I won’t be enough in a women’s eyes.”

Many marriages end in tragedy because couples re-wound one another, creating havoc in their relationships instead of healing the wounds and opening up to self-awareness.

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