Marriage is hard work — even if you’re married

Marriage is hard work and takes a lot of compromise, as Ben Affleck awkwardly acknowledged in his acceptance speech at the Oscars. Jason Merritt / Getty
Marriage is hard work and takes a lot of compromise, as Ben Affleck awkwardly acknowledged in his acceptance speech at the Oscars. Jason Merritt / Getty

When Ben Affleck accepted the Oscar for Best Picture, he thanked his wife Jennifer Garner and said that marriage is hard work, but it is the best kind of work. He’s right — it takes great effort to find the balance between each person’s needs and desires. Say football is your thing — it always has been, ever since you were a little kid watching at home with your dad. It’s hard for you to understand why your new partner has no interest in it. You want to go to games together, talk about plays and plan weekends around the tailgate parties. If the answer is “no,” what do you do? Ask for a compromise.

One couple I worked with had a basic problem: She wanted to stick to low-key staples like pizza and hot dogs, while he wanted to wine and dine on fancy, gourmet meals.  The difference in their tastes was a source of constant bickering and resentment in their relationship.

Compromising is key in any relationship, even if — as Ben Affleck pointed out rather awkwardly  — it takes work. In your relationship, you have to find a balance between your own pleasures and the things you love while respecting the things your partner is into, as well.  Is there a way to include your significant other but not force-feed them?

This is where a little bit can really go a long way. You remember when you were a child and your mother wanted you to eat broccoli, right? It looked awful, but you had to have some to appease her, so you took a small bite. With that taste, you showed her you respected her wishes enough to open your mind a little bit.

The same thing holds true in your relationship. Acknowledge to your partner that you understand and accept that football or pizza is not his or her cup of tea. When the playoffs roll around or a special event comes up, say that his or her company is important to you. Be clear that you know it is a sacrifice, but that a small portion — one game, or one slice of pizza — would mean a lot.

Doing this means you can share your passions and interests while respecting your partner’s desires. The key is to encourage them to be open and try to appreciate what it is that you find so fascinating. Who knows, your partner just might like it. Sharing pleasures and being open to each other helps to turn the wheels for more mutual passion. Doesn’t sound like such hard work, does it?


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