Dear Modern Married Readers,
One of our main themes in this community is the idea that we all have the opportunity to re-define marriage every day. Each of our marriages is custom made, and like a beautiful wedding dress or delicious latte – fits our taste and lifestyle perfectly. There is never just one way, there is always the way that works for us.
It is my pleasure to share the wise words of the authors of the brand new book, “The New I Do. Reshaping marriage for skeptics, realists and rebels” with you today. And we have a free copy of the book to give way! See details at the end of the post.
“The New I Do:” How to Create the Marriage You Want by
Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson
Every New Year we have an opportunity to start over. If you’re like most of us, you may have promised yourself that this year you’ll work harder on your relationship, be a better spouse and finally make the improvements you haven’t made before.
Or maybe this is the year you decide to end your marriage.
But what if there was another alternative to working harder or letting go? Something you’d never thought of, something you didn’t know existed?
What if you could redefine your marriage, which perhaps has become unfulfilling, unhappy or stale, and create a marriage that better suits your needs?
The truth is, you can.
We become disgruntled in a marriage when our partner or the relationship doesn’t meet our expectations.
- Diana wishes her husband were more social; she feels like a part of her is dying because they don’t go out like “normal” people do.
- Frank is upset that his wife is rarely interested in sex.
- Gabriela realizes she is happiest when she travels for work and is away from her spouse and kids for a few days every week.
Could Diana, Frank and Gabriela get their needs met in their marriage?
Yes, but not by working harder. By doing something different.
Take a moment to read the following sentence. Then write down the first thing that comes to your mind.
Marriage is ________________________________.
Strip away romance and the idea of love, soul mates and the fairy tale of “happily-ever-after,” and what you’ll discover is that at its core, marriage is a legal contract. That’s what a marriage license is.
And it’s a pretty simple legal contract at that, if not necessarily a simple emotional contract. It doesn’t require that the couple live together, be monogamous, share household chores, socialize together, have children or stay together forever.
The couple gets to decide that for themselves.You are free to create the marriage you want.Their unions aren’t what we expect marriage to look like. But while you may not want those kinds of arrangements, they appear to be working for those couples nonetheless because they meet their needs.
Let’s face it, there are two things that occur simultaneously in a marriage — the way we think it should be and the way it actually is. We would like you to consider transforming your marriage into one that gives you what you need from it.
In researching for our book, “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” we were fortunate to interview a number of couples that decided to do just that.
Now that you’ve been married for a while, is your marriage working for you? Is it meeting your needs?
Yet we are stuck believing that marriage must look a certain way. Many of us doubt that couples with a huge age difference, like Hugh Hefner, 88, and wife Crystal, 28, have a “real” marriage; she must have married him for money, right? Some get upset over reports that Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband, Will Smith, have an open marriage; isn’t sexual fidelity an essential part of marriage?
Others believe it makes no sense that Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton live apart, in side-by-side townhouses in London; why even bother to tie the knot if you’re not going to live together?
How couples set up their marriage is an individual arrangement.
And while the contract entitles those who have it to some 1,100 government benefits, there’s one thing the contract doesn’t do — it doesn’t instruct a couple on what their marriage should look like.
Some opened up their marriage for a bit. Yes, it felt scary at times and yes, they had bouts of jealousy, but they also believe there was something incredibly brave and empowering about their decision — a “badge of courage” is how one couple described it. They learned that they could make up their own rules and take risks in their relationship, and, frankly, doing something together that was different than the mainstream — without any deception — was not only exciting, but it also brought them closer together.
Others who were on the brink of divorce chose a radical new approach. Although separated, they quickly discovered that living on their own proved to be expensive. Plus, their children were still minors and they didn’t like not being around them for days at a time. So, they moved back in together but instead of being romantic partners, they just focused on being good co-parents.
The upside was that they could see the kids whenever they wanted in their family home (and the kids didn’t have to shuffle back and forth between parents); they were able to maintain their old social connections while also free to have separate social lives; removing romantic love and its expectations, resentments and frustrations from their union allowed them to communicate better; and they were able to focus on taking care of their own needs.
There are many other ways to transform a marriage that’s not working well; our book offers a road map for couples who seek to do that.
So here are a few of questions to ask yourself about your own marriage.
There aren’t any right or wrong answers; all we hope they do is illuminate whatever concerns you about your union, and spark an open, honest and respectful dialog between you and your spouse.
- What were my reasons for marrying?
- What did I think I knew about marriage that turned out as expected?
- What did I think I knew about marriage that turned out different than I expected?
- What’s working well in my marriage?
- What isn’t?
- What needs do I have that aren’t being met?
- Can those needs be met outside the marriage?
- If I could create marriage from scratch, what would I want that I don’t already have?
- What do I have that I don’t want?
Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson are co-authors of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels” (Seal Press, 2014). Follow them on their website, http://thenewidobook.com/, on Twitter at @TheNewIDo and on Facebook at TheNewIDo.
BOOK GIVEWAY: To win a free copy of the book: Name one word to describe your marriage. For example, in the book they mention a “parenting marriage” a “companionship” marriage, a “safety” marriage, etc. Choose a word to describe your marriage and enter it in the comments. We will accept entries until midnight eastern time February 27th 2015. The lucky winner will be notified by email. US entries only. Now go love and be loved. XO