Everyone wants a strong relationship, but how many are actually willing to work for it? These eleven proverbs for couples can help you a lot. Sustaining a relationship is no joke, and unless you put in the effort and work towards building a sense of understanding, problems will be galore.
I’ve been working with couples for over 30 years, and during that time I find myself saying some things over and over. Many things I have learned elsewhere, particularly from colleagues in the Imago community. Some things I’ve come up with on my own – I think. At this point, the sources are a blur because in saying them so often they now all feel like my own. Here they are, in no particular order.
Here Are 11 Proverbs For Couples
1. There are three things that make me believe in God.
a) The taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice, b) Yosemite Valley, and c) the perfection with which couples choose each other.
You may think you know why you choose your partner when you propose or say “yes, I do.” But you haven’t a clue. The deeper reasons and deeper meaning for your partnership will continue to unfold over the decades of your relationship if you hang in long enough and stay open to it.
And much of this meaning comes through in the struggles you two will have. Each time I witness this perfection in my office, my faith that there is a Higher Being organizing the cosmos is reaffirmed.
2. You pick the person who can best create your worst nightmare.
While this may sound harsh, or scary, there is deep meaning in its truth. The intent here is that you will choose someone (unconsciously, of course) who will trigger sore spots from your past.
Along with this theory is the belief that you make such a choice in order to heal things as an adult with your partner that you could not work out with your parent when you were a child.
3. When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.
If your partner is acting or reacting in a way that makes absolutely no sense based on the stimuli, the reason behind the behavior may come from the distant past. Does your wife have a total meltdown if you forget to pick up something at the store she asked for? Find out what that feeling reminds her of from her childhood.
You might be surprised to learn it can be connected to something like a parent who forgot her birthday or forgot to pick her up from school repeatedly, or something in the neighborhood of a profound feeling of not mattering.
4. In marriage, it’s win-win or lose-lose. There is no win-lose.
So many arguments devolve into one person trying to beat the other through marshaling evidence, verbal jousting, or subtle or not so subtle putdowns. This does absolutely nothing positive for either side in the dispute.
The only thing that will help your marriage is if both of you feel like winners. If you don’t, you will both lose. It’s that simple, and any time you think you have to prove your point, you’re not proving anything except that you don’t understand what it means to be in a relationship.
5. In heated arguments, remember the 90/10 formula.
Connected to proverb #3, this formula posits that when you and your partner are in a screaming match over something inane, 10% of the conflict stems from the present-day context of what you’re arguing over. (My wife and I once got in an argument over who had to turn their head more to see the clock in order to know what time it was.)
The other 90% of the energy you bring to the conflict stems from your past. It is the little child in your adult body who is providing all the energy behind this conflict.
6. If you think there are only two options, choose the third.
So often it can seem like there are only two irreconcilable options available to you. Which do you choose? #1 or #2? Who says there are only two? It’s because you’re locked in a power struggle that it seems that way.
When I see couples stuck here, I ask them, “What is the third option?” Sometimes something will shift in the room, the atmosphere will change, and creative thinking will unfold.
7. You can be wrong even when you’re right.
There are a ton of ways to be wrong even when you’re right. Most of them fall into the category of holding onto something because it’s technically right for you individually, but wrong for the relationship.
Let’s say it’s your turn to get the new car but you know it’s more important to your spouse to drive the new car. You can exercise your “right,” but you would be wrong to do so.
8. Your partner fell in love with your essence, not your survival suit.
We all develop survival suits to make our way through the world. These are the coping strategies we have developed over time to hide our vulnerabilities (“I really think I’m stupid/ugly/incompetent/a fraud”) as we go through life. Your spouse did not fall in love with your survival suit.
Your spouse fell in love with you in the vulnerable state you showed him/her when you first fell in love, and you felt safe enough to be your true self. If you show that same self to your spouse, he/she may very well fall in love with you all over again.
9. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
It’s pretty rare that you can be both in your marriage. Connected to #4 and #7, I ask this of people when they are doggedly trying to prove their point to their spouse. Just what is the big deal with being right?
10. Marriage is where the rubber meets the road.
It is very easy to be cool, groovy, understanding, and wonderful with your male or female friends. They don’t live with you. Your spouse does.
So don’t pull out “my friends say…” when your partner complains about something. There is nothing like marriage to force you to walk your talk.
11. Leave the kids out of it.
Don’t ever use the kids to bolster your argument with your spouse. That’s a nuclear button.
All of us are deeply sensitive to what kind of parents we are. All of us are aware of all the ways we could be better parents. We don’t need our spouse to reinforce that and we won’t be able to hear a thing our spouse says while using the kids as a weapon. So don’t do it.
Dr. Gressel can be reached via his website at joshgressel.com.
These eleven proverbs for couples can help you and your relationship a lot if you genuinely want it to work and go the long mile. Things are not always going to be easier and ideal, but these proverbs can do wonders for all the couples out there. Just try them out and see the magic for yourself.