The 4th of September marked the anniversary of our 23rd year of marriage.
I kind of hoped that with the passing of the years, that I would develop the skills to maintain a healthy marriage by the process of osmosis. Or that they would put out some kind of cure-all pill you could take for $9.95 that gives you a super awesome marriage. It would, of course, come with a free set of steak knives 🙂 .
But alas that has not been my experience.
Like learning an instrument, excelling at a sport, or learning a new skill, marriage takes hard work and dedication. Mine is far, far from perfect.Marriage takes hard work and dedication. Click To Tweet
I like what Dave Willis says here. I think it is very true and can indeed be a challenge.
Every passing season brings new challenges. Each life event throws you a new curve ball, and just when you think you’re doing OK, something happens and the process starts all over again.
And often they aren’t the big things either, it can be differences in parenting, how to spend money, life goals, time management, starting a new career, or at least that has been our truth.
If there are two places I am learning not to mentally place my spouse, it is in the gutter and on a pedal stool.
Both places are marriage danger zones and have no place in my relationships.
This is an unhealthy place to put your spouse or indeed anyone for that matter. When we place others on a pedestal we are being unfair to both ourselves and the other person.
What does it mean to place someone on a pedestal?
We are placing them in a position that elevates their worth above our own, it creates a mini god like status. No doubt it starts from a place of love and the desire to believe the best in our spouse. We expect them to be their very best all the time, but it can lead to some of the following issues.
- We can start to see what they do, and who they are through rose coloured glasses. While believing good things about someone is healthy, believing untruths because it is easier to place someone on a pedestal someone than authentically work through issues is not healthy.
- We start to exalt their ideas and opinions- which can often lead us to devaluing our own.
- It can create an escape from taking personal responsibility for our own actions, thoughts, feelings and needs.
- We place the exalted person in an unfair position, because it creates the need for them to be more than they may feel they can be or want to be. It can create unhealthy expectations.
- It does away with authenticity for both yourself and the other person. No one can be truly authentic when they are being worshiped, or are worshiping another person. Motives, needs, desires all get clouded up by a false premise that is not built on equality but upon someone being ‘more’ than someone else.
- We can be incredibly disappointed, almost unrealistically so when they come crashing down off that pedestal. This disappointment can really rattle us and our relationship.
- If we are not careful then this can lead to much messier problems. Manipulation, gas lighting and even abuse. We need to value ourselves and who we are, our needs, desires, hopes and dreams first before we can do so in a healthy way toward others. We need to stay away from developing a worshiper or a martyr mentality, but cultivate a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and honour.
If a pedestal means seeing someone through rose coloured glasses then gutter glasses are mud stained. Please be aware that when talking about these places I am not talking about relationships where abuse is happening. I am talking about everyday relationships where how we view the position of our partner in the relationship can affect how we relate to them day to day. My own personal opinion is if you are an in abusive relationship of any kind is to make yourself and any children safe, seek help and work out your next step.
So what is the gutter?
When we place someone in the gutter, in stark contrast, we expect the worst from them, we expect them to behave poorly or be out to get us. This probably stems from a place of hurt rather than love and it becomes our protective barrier against further hurt.
So what are the results of placing someone in the gutter relationally speaking?
- Placing someone in the gutter relies on making negative assumptions about that person, rather than clarifying what they mean or are talking about.
- Our own filters are often applied to a situation. If they or someone else has hurt us in the past a particular way, then we can begin to assume that everything they do will hurt us too. Our filter is our hurt rather than the reality of what is happening now.
- It leaves us without hope, because we see things as desolate and at their worst. Like the quote by Asimov, we need to scrub off our assumptions so we can let the light come in. This is such a relational truth.
- It can create an armour around us that stops us feeling love.
- We often create a back story that isn’t there and has arisen from a place of scarcity.
Dr. Brené Brown says this in her book Rising Strong;
The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity
We must also allow our partners the freedom to reclaim their truth too.
This is probably the most crucial part of learning why we place people in the gutter or on a pedestal. It really has to do with how we see ourselves. And if there is one thing that marriage has taught me, is that it can only be as healthy as I am.
That is not always easy. In fact, personally, I have found it to be incredibly hard. I am not anywhere near as healthy as I want to be.
Marriage requires two people to be on a journey of authenticity, of understanding who they are first, and how who they are affects that partnership. It requires building a safe place in order to explore all of that together, and it requires us to be brave when it doesn’t look or feel like we expect it too.
And that is easier said than done, but worth it when it begins to happen. What would you add to to this list?