Lucky In Love and Marriage: What’s Luck Got to do with it?
By: Risa Ganel, LCMFT Owner/Principle Therapist
There are many different traditions bestowing luck onto a new bride and groom, such as:
- The groom breaking a glass under his foot at the end of the ceremony,
- The bride tucking a sugar cube into her glove
- Marrying on a certain day of the week
- Rain on your wedding day
- Pinching the bride on her wedding day
- Throwing rice, or peas in some traditions
- Planting a pine tree outside the couples new home
- All of these and many more are beautiful traditions rooted in history and culture. However I’ll say it straight out…luck has nothing to do with your marriage. And I don’t say this lightly because, honestly, I feel like the luckiest woman alive to be married to my husband. We met while I was going through a horrible divorce from my first husband which took place when my daughter was only 2 years old. At that time, I thought for sure my luck had run out, that at 41 years old with a young child no one would ever want to be in a relationship with me and that I was destined to be a single mom. I was very very wrong, thankfully, and since then people have told me how lucky I am to have found my husband, Opher. For a brief moment, I nod my head and agree with them, but honestly it has nothing to do with luck, and neither does the success of your marriage.
The literal definition of luck is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions”. You’ve all heard it said that marriage takes work. But what kind of work? What are the actions and areas of growth that help lay the foundation for a strong marriage?
Personal Growth & Self Reflection:
One of the things I frequently ask my couples to do in session is reflect on this question “What am I doing to help or hurt the marriage?” It’s far too easy, and all too common, to point out the things your partner is doing that upset you, and it’s also perfectly normal. But just because everyone else does it and it’s “normal” doesn’t mean it’s helpful. Discussing the things you dislike, or need differently from your partner has it’s time and place, but without self reflection your run the risk of always looking to your partner to make the marriage work and send a constant message that the other person is the problem and you are the victim. Personal growth and self reflection lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and your part in building the marriage. I thought I was damaged goods after my divorce, and had the double whammy of being a marriage and family therapist! A blow to my personal life and potentially my professional life and identity. Personal growth was key to truly learning from my divorce. I had work to do!
*I’ll note that it’s not just personal growth, but relational growth which too many of the self help books and gurus do not focus on. But I’ll save that for another post!
Difficulty communicating is the number one reason couples give for seeking couples counseling at Together Couples Counseling. This usually means something slightly different for each couple, but often it’s more of a problem with listening, understanding, validating and feeling heard. That is the essence of communication and an area that couples counseling can be very helpful with. There are skills that can be learned and patterns that can be unlearned with the help of a skilled Marriage and Family Therapist. Knowing what to talk about in a relationship is essential too.
Trust has many parts to it and once it is broken it’s very difficult, but not impossible to heal. Trust requires that you do trustworthy things, like…. And even after seeing your partner engage in those deeds, over and over again, trust requires that you take a leap of faith, knowing that it may not go perfectly. Trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”, And if you are undermining the trust your partner puts in you and your relationship, go back to personal growth…there’s more work to be done there. Individual therapy can help with this too. Learn more in our 3 Part Series on Trust
Compromise does not mean meeting in the middle and getting half of what each of you want. It means coming up with something you both can live with, without resentment or anger. It takes practice and remembering that you are working toward a common goal as a team not opponents.
Forgiveness is one of the key ingredients in a marriage. The marriage vows my husband and I created stated that we would love each other for who we are, and for who we are not. We are imperfect human beings with flaws and forgiveness is what helps us align ourselves with living in the world with the way things are, not the way we want them to be. It’s called reality. I want my husband to be on time always, but in reality he is often late. That’s part of our reality and I could get furious each time, berate him, hold a grudge and build resentment onto our foundation. However, forgiveness gives me a tool to let go of that. This is a skill to learn too. And as most of you have hear, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness means choosing to stop the cycle of hurt set forth by the actions of others. Letting go is an active, conscious, act that frees you from the hurt and pain and in turn allows your relationship to grow.
It’s nice to feel lucky at times. Like when you find a $20 bill on the ground and you’re the only one around to claim it. Or when you get the closest parking spot to your favorite store during the Holiday rush…. But don’t leave your marriage to luck. Luck may give you an opportunity, like when I stumbled across my husbands profile on JDate many moons ago, but luck won’t make your marriage great. You have the power to create a great relationship. Put in the work to improve yourself as a partner, to improve your relationship, through every stage of life, through every up and down. Build a strong foundation so that when the storms hit, and they will hit, you can look at each other and feel like the luckiest person on the planet for getting to go through the ups and downs of life with the person you chose, by your side, through it all.