Happy marriage and Socrates

“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

Socrates

From time to time I stop to write about my family and my personal life. There are several reasons for this. I was not married to Anna, nothing of what you see on this blog would exist. Being partners working on a shared vision and being married at the same time is a tremendous stress on any relationship. We have had our share of arguments and came out stronger and still together. The three children we have are a true blessing, but also quite a handful. Balancing our work and our personal life has never been easy, and we are still struggling to get it right. In this post I am not going to teach you anything, instead I will share some thoughts that I have after 10 years of marriage [celebrated October 7th 2015].

Every couple can be a power couple

There is this strange dream of being a power couple, a perfect synergy of strengthes and goals that enables each partner to get everything that he or she wants. Maybe some people have it, I did not meet these people yet. I did meet many couples working very hard to achieve common goals, trying desparately to protect each other from external threats and self-destructive behaviors. Does it always succeed? Not really. But if the relationship is honest and partners care for each other they will do much more good than damage. Instictively we choose our partners to be like ouselves or complete opposites of ourselves in selected areas. The things in which both partners are strong generate common goals, and the things in which partners complement each other become the basis of synergy of every power couple. Then there is a lot of hard work together, attempts to learn from each other, active search for how to open doors for each other and simple determination not to give up. This is a lot of hard work fuelled by very simple ideas. Every couple should be able to do this, provided both partners choose a common goal.

Be happy here and now

Generally there are more reasons to be grumpy about marriage than there are to be greatful. Gratitude is a skill not everybody can stomack, even if it makes us happier.
When we had just one kid, we had a lot of arguments as a couple. Not anymore.
Instead of trying to focus on what went wrong and how things can get better, we enjoy the short moments of quiet joy when nothing is getting seriously wrong around us.
The ability to be happy in the present did not came to me from years of meditation and mindfulness practice, but from years of damage control when the things are not as they should be.

If not, be a philospher

It is not realistic for most of us to experience eternal bliss all day long, day after day for years.
Definitely married life in modern society is not a step in this direction.
When things do fall apart, and they quite often do, I try to look at the situatiation from an outside perspective.
In the classical sense, a philosopher is someone who lives according to a way of life, whose focus is upon resolving existential questions about the human condition.
Most of our problems are very common problems, a part of what is called “human condition”. As such, they were studied extensively by many smart people.
It may sound quite stupid, but knowing [and visualizing] that others have the same problems, and often much harder problems, really helps me.
I feel more empathic to other people and in a way I feel for empathic to myself. Moreover, there is a good chance I find in literature a solution to my condition.
Probably vivid visualization and extremely high reading speed really help me here.

Choose means carefully

Choosing he right means to communicate with the partner is very hard.
We use external help to define the right formulation to activate each other in a good way – a motivating way that does not trigger conflict.
At the beginning it does not feel natural, but after being used several times these special sentences become an essetial part of the dialog.
The basis of each formulation is usually an assertive technique:”this is your behavior, it makes me feel …, let us search together for an acceptable solution: for example, in a similar situation one could…”

Sometimes anyone may appear to be “bad”

Nobody is perfect. Sometimes our partner is difficult, manipulative and appears to be bad. This is just a part of our lives, which we cannot eradicate. We can focus on reducing the frequency and radicality of negative behavior. And we should understand that sometimes there will be relapses. As long as each year is better than the year before it, we should be happy with our hard work.
Do tell your partner how much you appreciate the hard work and enjoy its results. It will make your life much better and may make your partner smile.

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