What’s the point of marriage?
No, really, this is a serious question. What’s the point? If you don’t have a goal, objective, or specific outcome in mind, or if you don’t know what you and your partner’s needs are and how best to fulfill them, how can you know whether or not you’re being successful in your partnership?
Having the wrong goals or “point” to your marriage can leave you feeling frustrated, alone, or even reeling in confusion or anger. Speaking of anger (this will all tie together, so stay with me here), I saw a quote on social media the other day that got me really upset:
“You deserve to be with somebody who makes you happy. Somebody who doesn’t complicate your life. Somebody who won’t hurt you.”
This quote got me riled up because this is the kind of hogwash cooked up by a social media manager in desperate need of some validating “likes.” It can destroy relationships because it is offering an ineffective platitude that people will take as serious advice.
So, here’s another honest question: since when did the pinnacle of relationship achievement become existing in a constant, unchanging state of happiness, simplicity, and total safety? When did the fantasy of “and they lived happily ever after“ stop being the end of a storybook for kids and turn into literal #lifegoals?
I don’t remember “providing your partner with an endless supply of happiness” being in the details for me or my wife when we signed up for this marriage thing. Social psychologist Eli Finkel argues in his book, The All or Nothing Marriage, how, in today’s world, couples expect more and more of each other. We rely on each other for many aspects of socialization and support that, prior to the 20th century, many people found outside of their marriages.
Don’t get me wrong, I think happiness is great. It’s necessary in all aspects of life, and especially in a relationship. But it’s also a fluid emotion that comes and goes based on how your stomach reacts to the burrito you ate for lunch today, your coworker’s irritable habits, what’s happening in the White House this week, if your baseball team wins or loses, or who lives or dies on Game of Thrones.
Happiness is not a strong, stable foundation upon which to build lasting, committed love. It is simply too unstable, fleeting, and constantly in flux, and the ways in which we achieve happiness changes as we change over time.
Honestly, sustained and immutable happiness is arguably the most ineffective goal you could set for your relationship because it’s not possible to achieve. The reality of happiness, just like any other emotion, is that it comes and goes, just like the in-laws during the holidays, 80’s fashion, or stomach cramps.
Well, today it’s time to bust out another cold, hard truth:
The point of marriage is not happiness. The point of marriage is growth.
The key to becoming a truly successful couple is to take action and expand your comfort zone. Marriage is what Dr. David Schnarch, author of the book Passionate Marriage, calls a “Human Growth Machine.” And Finkel also posits that, in our world, “a new kind of marriage has emerged, one that can promote self-discovery, self-esteem, and personal growth like never before.” I love the idea of having a growth-centered marriage. That is something I can achieve, and it feels satisfying to grow and improve. It is a tangible goal.
Regarding goals: in the last few years I started doing something I never thought I’d do. I lift weights.
I used to be a slender little guy. I once dropped a girl when I was country dancing and was so embarrassed by my weak muscles that I never went back. Then I hit the gym. I remember when I first started lifting, I squatted 225 pounds and my coach was like, “Dude, Nate! That’s awesome!”
I was so proud of myself! So, I kept at it.
A few years later, after grinding away at the gym every week, I now squat around 345 pounds. Big improvement, right? And every time I add another pound, I feel like a champion because growth is satisfying and progress feels amazing.
Now I apply the principles I used in the weight room to my marriage. For example, I used to get anxious when my wife was feeling sad or stressed. And I used to snap at her if I felt attacked or threatened. For over a year I’ve been working to improve myself in this area. I practice self-soothing, taking deep breaths, and thinking before I speak, and giving my wife the benefit of the doubt and trying to understand her perspective when I feel hurt.
I’m definitely not perfect (a little secret: nobody is!), but I’m getting better at managing conflictbetween us and using it as an opportunity for understanding and growth. I’m less stressed out when she is. I snap at her less. My wife even smiles compassionately at me when she sees me taking deep breaths, or using the plans we’ve put in place to help us fight better and love smarter.
She’s commented that I’m improving, and because of that, we’re improving as a couple. But, like working out, it’s not easy, and especially not at first. It stretches your comfort zone. It pushes you to your limits. It expands your capacities as a human being. And this painful stretching and expanding and growing means that, sometimes, your partner and your marriage will not make you happy.
Honestly, marriage is a challenge. And it’s a good one because marriage reveals your limitations and exposes your weaknesses, flaws, and vulnerabilities. Marriage makes you painfully aware of how impatient you might be, of your struggles to say “no” to things that aren’t important and “yes” to things that are, and of how challenging it is to navigate your differences when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or simply hangry.
Marriage challenges you to deal with sickness, tragedy, financial stresses, changes in faith or beliefs, job loss, weight gain, raising kids, losing parents and other family members, and you have to do it all while supporting and satisfying another emotional human being!
You can’t tackle this stuff and come out on the other side still in love with each other by remaining the exact same people you were when you started. You can’t go through all of that together while remaining in perpetual bliss. You have to constantly grow and evolve into the version of you that’s capable of facing and overcoming the unique challenges that life throws at you at any given moment.
That dynamic won’t feel like perfection, but that’s actually what you want. In fact, Dr. John Gottman argues strongly in favor of a good enough marriage when he states that today, couples “expect to be treated with kindness, love, affection, and respect. They do not tolerate emotional or physical abuse. They expect their partner to be loyal. This does not mean they expect their relationship to be free of conflict. Even happily married couples argue. Conflict is healthy because it leads to greater understanding.”
You will be confronted with uncomfortable truths throughout your marriage. It might be about sex, or money, or time spent together, or parenting, or all of that. Things won’t always work out how you plan them, and plans may need to change if you’re going to have the relationship you want.
Having someone challenge you to expand and grow can make things feel worse before they get better. It may even put the relationship on the line if you or your partner refuse to confront your own flaws, or if you won’t take responsibility when things go wrong. If the Four Horsemen come charging into the dynamic, then you might be doomed if you don’t find ways to fight them off.
But this is what love is really about. It is not always about always pleasing your partner, or always being pleased yourself. Instead, it is about supporting your partner.
Pleasing your partner means you make sure they are happy and comfortable and worry-free, and there will be times you must do that. But if that’s your primary goal, it might cause you to be overly agreeable and accommodating even when your partner is being unkind or hurtful. And we all make those mistakes, but pleasing your partner also means shielding your partner from anything that could make them feel challenged or uncomfortable.
Like the uncomfortable experience of growth.
Supporting your partner means you have their best interests at heart and you intentionally act to uphold and achieve those interests. It means you stand by their side, you help them, you have their back, and sometimes it means you engage in conflict about difficult truths and regrettable incidents. True partners dedicate themselves to the person they love and to the bond they share, even when those acts of dedication might be temporarily painful due to the positive growth it causes.
Dedication to that positive growth forces you to identify and open up about your weaknesses, insecurities, and fears is exactly what leads to the periods of happiness, trust, connection, passion, and commitment.
Is that the kind of love you want? Or are you willing to settle for less?
Source article: https://www.gottman.com/blog/seriously-whats-point-marriage-growth/
Get married, free, on muzmatch.
Hey everyone, it’s Ayesha from My Big Fat Halal Blog (MBFHB)! MBFHB is one of the UK’s biggest halal food platforms where I share halal restaurant reviews, recipes and travel guides! You can find out more about what I do on my website or Instagram.
Today, I’m collaborating with muzmatch to share some of my top Ramadan recipes. We hope you try them out and we would love to see any of your recreations.
Here’s a simple recipe for this delicious, filling smoothie bowl packed with nutritious dates… the only dates you should be having this Ramadan! ;)
1 banana, plus extra slices to garnish
5 pitted medjool dates, plus extra, chopped, to garnish
250ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tsp cocoa powder
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nuts, to decorate
Simply put all the ingredients in a blender, and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl, over ice, if you like, then arrange the nuts, extra banana and dates over the top to serve.
Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be Ramadan without fried treats! Below is a recipe for my spicy, moreish potato cutlets. They’re always a hit with everyone!
750g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
11⁄2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Chutney/spicy salsa, to serve
1.Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 18-20 mins, until tender. Drain and set aside for 15-20 mins, until cool enough to handle.
2. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, ground coriander and fresh coriander to the potatoes. Season, then mash until smooth.
3. Wet your hands, then shape the mixture into 10 round patties, about 1cm thick.
4. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs onto separate plates, then dip each patty first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.
5. Heat the oil to medium-high, then fry the patties in batches for 2-3 mins on each side, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with a chutney/ spicy salsa for dipping.
A feast would not be complete without dessert! Try out this delicious Egyptian bread pudding known as Um Ali. It’s made with croissants, nuts and condensed milk and it’s absolutely delicious!
850ml semi-skimmed milk
1⁄2 x 397g can condensed milk
1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom
1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to serve
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml double cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 all butter croissants, roughly torn
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp flaked almonds
2 tbsp unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp seedless raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4.
2. Stir the milk, condensed milk, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla extract together in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2mins, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and carefully bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat.
3. Using the butter, grease a round baking dish, roughly 22cm in diameter and 5cm deep, and cover the base with half the croissant pieces.
4. Sprinkle over half each of the coconut, almonds, pistachios and raisins, then pour over the milk mixture.
5. Top with the remaining croissants, nuts and raisins, plus an extra pinch of cinnamon.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25mins until golden and bubbling, then leave to stand for 10 mins before serving.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and will try them out! You can find more of my recipes at mybigfathalalblog.com.
My husband and I got married last week! I wanted to share our story with you. Jarred and I started talking earlier this year and had an instant connection.
Jarred is from Connecticut and I'm from Texas. He was in Arkansas for school and recently graduated and was interested in meeting someone so he downloaded muzmatch.
We started talking and realized how much we had in common and quickly became serious about each other. We complimented each another in so many ways: prioritizing our deen, family and wanting to make a positive difference in the world.
Jarred then drove to see me. After that, we were certain we wanted to get married and decided to have our nikkah before Ramadan. We've been married almost a month now and it's been a wonderful adventure!
We're so happy! Jazakallah khair for connecting us!
Alhamdulillah, thank you Allah and the muzmatch team!
I'm from Indonesia and my husband is from Germany, but he is Russian.
What a blessing it is to have a mixed raced marriage!
I knew my husband from muzmatch since May 2017 and then he visited Indonesia in November 2017. I didn't believe he was serious until he visited me and my family.
Months later, I flew to Germany and found work there because I wanted to be close to him.
I was in love.
Finally on 28 Dec 2018, we had our nikkah which fell on the last Jumu'ah of the month and in March 2019 we got officially married.
Thank you to the muzmatch team!