Believe it or not, I am not married. I however have been in a long term relationship since 1993 and do have two kids to show for it. In that time I have had plenty of ups and downs in my relationship and even managed to mature somewhat into the idea that I will never marry most likely. I have also known plenty of men and women who happen to be divorced or pretty close to ending their marriage. Recently a friend of mine disclosed to me his own marriage turmoils and it reminded me of how difficult it is to make relationships work.
It seemed like only a couple of years ago I sat at their wedding and heard the minister speak of the holy union between man and woman and the whole idea that what God joins, men may not break. Many people cried as they heard those words; I saw old women cry, as well as even young men. Somehow it is understood that everyone, old or young alike, men and women, all want the same thing: intimacy. We feel that intimacy, eventually means we are happy at last and we no longer are left to our individual selves. But this is a false truth. Intimacy is not happiness, and even if it was, many people lack the skills to even attain intimacy in their relationships.
The problem is not lack of intimacy that causes marriages to fail, it is that couples do not know how to communicate and compromise with each other. Relationships work best when both partners can communicate to each other what it is they want first. After this, the idea is that you can compromise with each other on how both of you can be happy. Many people end up divorcing, because they can not actually be honest with themselves and communicate their wants to their spouse. Other marriages end because spouses want different things and they never can reach a compromise.
If your marriage is in turmoil and you are pretty unhappy, the best thing to do is to start with yourself. Ask yourself what would truly make you happy? Do not think about foolish fantasies or extravagant ideas, be honest with yourself. What do you want? Once you figure out what it is makes you happy, take some time and tell your partner what that is. When you have this conversation, you need to make the point that this is what would make you happy and that this is not about your partner at all. Take time to listen to what your partner has to say about you. Recognize that no one gets everything they want out of life, much like romantic love, is an ideal that is very often hard to live up to, so are many of our desires.
Next give your partner time to come up with their own needs and have them be open and honest as much as possible. You are allowed to ask questions of your spouse, but only for clarification, never accuse or blame them for anything. Remember that all you are trying to do is to listen to what each other has to say. After both partners have said everything that they wanted to say about their own individual happiness, take some time to reflect on what was said. Be proud in the fact that both of you have made it this far and that you are still married, but also try to understand what kind of relationship both of you can have now that you both know what each other wants.
You will find that either your relationship can continue or that you are not willing to compromise in order to stay in the relationship. After talking to each other, you will have intimacy, because you have opened yourself up and shared yourself, however intimacy alone cannot save your marriage. The hardest part comes next, which is the compromise, because after all we are talking about marriage and this is what that holy union is all about: surviving one day at a time together.