What should a marriage be? What should your spouse be like?

By Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

How should he/she treat you? What should you have done to save your marriage?

Do you hear those questions float around in your heads?

They are all useless.

“Should” is a very dangerous world. It is based in wishful thinking that never happens.

“I should go to the gym” is very different than “I am going to the gym.”

“I shouldn’t eat that dessert” is a far cry from “I am not going to eat that.”

Should and shouldn’t — useless. Don’t use them. Ever. You really shouldn’t.

Why is it these words are so useless?

Because they are based in a part of the mind that is not convinced of any change. It is a reflection of some thought in your mind that is not really even yours — something you should do. It is external to what you will do.

Where does your idea of what a marriage “should” be come from?

It is not based on what your marriage is, so it is not based in reality. It may be based on what you see or saw in your parents or grandparents, with friends, in a book, on a movie, or anywhere else.

But it is not based on what “is.” Nor is it likely to be based on what is coming.

“We should have a better marriage” is not an action plan. It is simply wishful thinking. You may either hope for that, or chastise yourself and your spouse for not having it. But it is not moving you toward it.

That does not mean that I think things cannot change. Quite the opposite.

I deeply believe in the capacity for change, growth and transformation.

It is just that people and situations will not change based on “should.”

In my office, on a daily basis, I hear the word “should” over and over. “I should. . .” and “we should. . .” echo throughout the day. Sometimes, I just count how many times I hear it. Sometimes, I ask the person to restate it as “I will. . .” or “we will. . . .” Interestingly, many people who say “should” are unable to say “will.”

“Will” is based in exactly that, our “will.” It is based in action and direction. It puts us on the hook. We either have to act, or we have to admit we did not. “Should” keeps us off the hook, even if the answer is “right.”

Is that voice in your head asking “so what should I do instead?” See? That word is so sneaky.

Let’s change it: “What could I do instead?”

I LOVE that change! “Could” and “can” have potential. Especially when followed with “this is what I will do.”

So let’s start with what “is.”

Where is your relationship right now?

Where are you starting from? Be specific. Accept that where you are is where you begin.

Think of it as the “present perfect.” No, not a grammar lesson. But a truth about life. The present is perfect.

Not perfect, as in “without blemish,” but perfect in the sense that it exactly reflects the actions and circumstances that get us to here. The present is a perfect reflection of where we have been.

Good and bad, it is a match of where we are. That includes our relationship. A marriage, at this instant, is a perfect reflection of all that has happened up until now.

If we ignore our spouse, it is strange to be surprised that our hurt and disconnected spouse reacts to that.

If we work to stay connected to each other, then a relationship that reflects connection and commitment is where we find ourselves. The present reflects the path that got us to here.

Don’t like where you are? Change the path!

Is your marriage disconnected? Is your relationship conflicted? Is your marriage out of balance?

Assess your role in this. What have you done to contribute to the current situation?

If you say “nothing,” you have either married a sociopath, or you are ducking responsibility. Oh, and if you answer “I married a sociopath,” then I have to ask, aren’t you responsible for doing that?

So, let me ask again, so you can reflect, what is your responsibility in where your relationship is now?

Accept that has been a part of what has gotten the relationship to where it is. Not the whole. There are two in this.

Another hard one to accept: you have capacity to change only one part of the equation — you.

No need to start with “yes, but my spouse ______.” That is especially true if the sentence continues with “my spouse should _________.”

Now, for a moment, imagine what your marriage could be about. Not what it should be, but what it could be.

Similar, but not the same. You see, could has potential.

Imagine that, and let’s start building toward that.

If you can’t figure out what it could be, please grab my Save The Marriage System <=== by CLICKING HERE.

Lee Baucom, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, therapist, coach and speaker, and has over a quarter of a century of experience helping couples and individuals learn to thrive in their relationships and their lives. He is the creator of the internet marriage program, Save The Marriage.

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