Marriage is not just about you. The sooner you realise this the better for you. When you decide to make your spouse’s life beautiful your own life transforms magically.
In the beginning they are two. Two different individuals. Two different backgrounds. Two distinct dispositions. And then an important event: marriage. It makes them one. That is genuine magic.
With that magic comes an inexplicable transformation, from being the centre of their own universe they become part of a totally new universe with an entirely different set of values. At the centre of this new universe is their spouse.
The old “I” now becomes the new “We”. At the top of “We” is the spouse. And the spouse becomes the centre of your life. The spouse is the recipient of all love and is now the focus of all activity.
As the years go by there are new inclusions to the “We”: children. The spouse and the children become the new focus of all love and evolve into the fulcrum around which all activities revolve.
To the outsider this transformation in the spouses seems unbelievable. How can two different individuals who had for decades put “Self” above “Others” now put spouse and children above self?
The answer is spontaneity. Selflessness at this juncture in life is an innate human quality. However, this transformation is easier said than done.
Nevertheless there are steps that spouses could take to achieve selflessness in marriage.
1. It may at first seem unusual to always focus on the needs of your spouse putting aside your own needs. At times this may even seem impractical. However, when your spouse begins to reciprocate by focussing on you it may not be all that difficult.
2. This selflessness should however not be conditional. Try loving your spouse without any expectations. Help your spouse succeed in all endeavours. Your effort will not go unnoticed. Reciprocity will become spontaneous.
3. When your spouse is under stress share some domestic chores. With time you will find that your spouse shares some of your work.
4. When your spouse is stretched emotionally for whatever reason, be more understanding than usual. Show that you are keen to share problems and find solutions.
5. Compromise is the very foundation on which selflessness is built. However, it is not always easy. It may at times make you feel that you don’t have a life of your own. This is when openness and support of your spouse could make things work out for both of you.
6. Don’t expect instant results. You are after all trying to replace decades of selfishness with selflessness. Reconcile to the fact that this change will take time.
7. Above all don’t blame your spouse for things that don’t turn out the way you expected them to. Learn to discuss, analyse, get to the root of issues and resolve them.
8. You may not believe this until you try it: spirituality nourishes selflessness. When things seem harder than before, turn to some divine being for help. Prayer helps you overcome the urge for selfishness and strengthens your resolve to be selfless.
The perfect marriage is a myth. Reality is that all marriages have ups and downs. Don’t let the bumps in your marriage weaken your determination for selflessness.
In the long run, you will find that selflessness is contagious. In most relationships, the other spouse reciprocates this benevolence. And when children grow old they too become generous and helpful. When it is their turn they too will turn out to be selfless spouses. Apples don’t fall far from the tree.