The institution of marriage has been around for thousands of years and in that time there have been many long and successful marriages celebrated, as well as many failed marriages that have caused much unhappiness, disappointment and devastation to the parties involved. No-one of sound mind goes into a marriage with the intention of causing it to fail, but it’s a fact of life that some marriages just don’t work out.
Are you trapped in a “marriage” that isn’t working and, if so, what are you doing about it?
Before we go any further, let me point out that the “marriage” I’m referring to is not a marriage to another person but a marriage to certain ideas – ideas about the way things work or about how the world works – that are possibly now outdated, no longer relevant or helpful.
In a marriage between two people, success lies in those two people making a lifelong commitment to one another during which they allow their relationship to grow as a partnership, which provides much mutual benefit. And because of their love and commitment to one another, each party supports their partner, and vice versa. When that happens, the relationship flourishes, resulting in much happiness and fulfilment for both people and any children that may be born as a result of the marriage.
Another key to a successful marriage between two people is that they both grow together in a way that causes their relationship to mature into something a lot deeper than mere infatuation or romantic love. Apart from the affection and commitment that’s necessary for the marriage to work, there’s also a working side to the relationship that deals with the practicalities of life.
Sadly, two people in a marriage sometimes just don’t grow equally where one grows and the other doesn’t, or they just grow in different directions and ways, resulting in incompatibility. Then there are marriages in which one of the parties no longer feels committed to the other party. There are untold reasons for marriages failing and, when those relationships don’t work, it’s usually better for the two parties to agree on an amicable way to end the relationship so that they are both set free to find happiness and fulfilment in other ways.
Then again, many people stay in failed and unhappy marriages simply because they fear change, or for the sake of the children, although that’s not really in the children’s interests. In doing so, they deprive themselves of happiness and fulfilment because they can’t bring themselves to admit that the decision they made to marry their partner was a mistake.
All that by way of context. As I’ve already indicated, this piece is not about your marriage to another person but your relationship, your commitment, to an idea, philosophy or certain world view that may no longer be working for you.
You may never have thought of things in this way before so allow me to prompt your thinking in a new direction …
We all have thoughts, views, ideals and philosophies that we hold dear as we journey through life. Many of these views are formed from young and are as wide ranging as our views about love, people, religion, politics, life, success and many other topics. While some of those views were embedded in us while we were children, we’ve continued to hold them dear despite there being no reason to do so as we’ve matured.
There however comes a time when we have to recognise that some of those ideas and ideals no longer serve the purpose they served in the past, for any number of reasons. That’s when it’s time to end our marriage to those outdated, irrelevant ideas.
When it comes to work, what ideas do you hold dear about leadership, employees, the workplace, the evolving world of work? Are they still relevant and helpful? If not, maybe it’s time to end your marriage – your lifelong commitment – to those ideas that no longer work for you.
Let’s face it, if those ideas and ideals are no longer of benefit to you, if they’re irrelevant and serve no purpose in the current world, maybe it’s time for you to end the marriage. There’s no point in continuing with the relationship just because it suits you for now. No marriage of convenience is a happy marriage. Or maybe you’re just afraid of change …
Sure, you will need to go through a period of change, of adjustment, of mourning even, when you experience a separation from those ideas that were once a part of your life but now are no longer relevant. And then there’s the fear of simply experiencing change – change in your circumstances, change in the way you handle things and change in the way you live and work.
If you give yourself time and you give yourself a chance, you’ll come to accept the changes and embrace the new. And in so doing, you will set yourself free to live a “new” life in which you find new purpose and fulfilment.
I urge you to take a hard look at what marriages to outdated ideas you need to break off and then start doing so. Once you set yourself free from those limiting ideas, you will open yourself up to a whole new world of opportunities for growth!
These views are not intended to encourage anyone to give up on their marriage to their husband or wife simply because the relationship may have grown stale or tired. If that is the case, I urge you to possibly look at what ideas about marriage (or your partner) you may have been “married” to that may have resulted in you not working at your relationship. As someone who has been very happily married for more decades than my wife will allow me to admit (she says people will then be able to work out her age!), I can assure you that any successful marriage requires hard work, but is well worthwhile. In fact, if I got the chance to do it all again, I would do it with my wife! You know the old story of the swan looking so graceful as it glides across the water. But, if you were to look under the surface, you would see them paddling like mad. That’s what a successful marriage is all about – gracefulness on top of the surface and mad paddling below!
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches experienced business leaders as well as Millennial managers how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter“.