The Happiness Connection  

Prince Charming's flaws

When I first got married, I expected my husband to meet all my needs, which he did.

Unfortunately, this period of perfect bliss only lasted while we were in our honeymoon phase. Once that was over and my husband began to turn his attention to things other than me, I suddenly had a lot of unattended needs.

Fact: No one can meet all your needs, not even Prince Charming.

No one tells you this fact while you are busy buying flowers and choosing a dress. I never thought past the happily ever after ending, even though the marriages I had witnessed were nothing like the fairy tale movies I watched.

I was sure the honey moon stage of my marriage would last forever.

Fact: What you know and the hope you cling to are rarely the same.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the secret to a happy marriage lies not with choosing the right person, but by being confident in who you are.

Few of us survive our teenage lives with our confidence intact. You may look confident, but that is likely to be an act that masks the insecure person living within. That inner persona wants to hang around people who will validate them and let them know they are a great person.

When you get married, you may assume that your partner will do this for you, and perhaps you’ve chosen someone who tries hard to fulfill that role. But that is a lot of pressure to put onto anyone and it is unlikely they will manage the task as well as you want them to, especially as your relationship matures.

The insecure, inner you may constantly be looking to other people to strengthen its wavering beliefs. You want others to tell you how great you are and that you are doing the right things, so you can believe that too. You don’t want them to highlight the flaws you know are hidden deep inside.

It is easy to jump to the conclusion that a lack of positive feedback is the same as negative feedback. Of course, your partner may just be wrapped up in their own world and not thinking about what you need at all.

You are putting yourself and your marriage in a very vulnerable position if you are looking to other people to validate your belief that you are good enough, especially if you don’t think you are.

Fact: The best kind of validation comes from within yourself.

You will put yourself into the best position for a happy marriage if you look to yourself for validation. Know that you are doing your best to live a good life. Be open to seeing failure as a new opportunity to learn and realize that no one is perfect.

It is OK when you stumble; the important thing is to get up again and reflect on how you can do it better next time. Make your decisions based on what you believe is best. Ask for advice, but do what you feel is right and then take responsibility for that decision.

Fact: If you are working toward being the best you can be, you are enough.

When I was first married, my husband fell into what I call teacher bashing. I was a classroom teacher for many years and it really upset me when he teased me with the old saying “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” This wounded me deeply. I hated it and it almost always started tears or emotional fights.

I appeared confident, but inside I was full of insecurity that I wasn’t even aware of. I was looking to my husband to tell me directly and in subtle ways that I was good enough. If he didn’t, the conclusion I jumped to was that I wasn’t.

At the time, I thought he was just being mean and trying to hurt me. As I look back, I doubt he realized that he was vocalizing a fear I kept hidden, even from myself.

I had no idea that I was such an insecure person, until I started some personal development years later. Being triggered by another person comes from fears about ourselves. I was looking for validation from other people to assure me that I was smart enough, capable enough, and any other kind of enough that I needed.

My husband’s words upset me so much because I was worried that what he was saying might be true. Rather than looking to myself for relief from the situation, I blamed my spouse.

Fact: When people trigger us, it is more about us than it is about them.

Before I understood the psychology behind my reactions, I used to talk about regular teasing and mean teasing. The former is given and received in good humor. The mean variety chooses a topic the person on the receiving end is insecure about. There is nothing humorous about that.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know what another person is sensitive about; often they don’t even know until it triggers them. This makes any type of teasing a minefield activity.

For much of our marriage, I looked to my husband for validation. I wanted him to say, “Good job” and let me know that I was valuable, because I couldn’t do that for myself. If I had learned to self-validate then like I have now, I might have made a request for the teasing to be kept to a minimum, but it wouldn’t have triggered a melt-down.

We rarely talk about change and growth before we get married. Humans are meant to learn and develop; this doesn’t stop just because we are cohabitating. What happens when your partner grows in a way that is different than yours?

Any time your spouse grows without you, it is scary, especially if you are looking to them for validation or have abandonment issues.

The key to repairing much of the hurt you feel from your spouse is to work on yourself. Take steps to love who you are. You can love yourself without having to be perfect. You don’t even have to be almost perfect.

Treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you. Accept your flaws as quirks, and your mistakes as opportunities to learn. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to try to be better. Growth is vital if you want to be happy. Keep learning and keep journeying through life with an open mind and accepting attitude.

You will know that you have reached a place of self-validation when you are no longer being triggered by other people’s opinions, or feel a desire to judge what other people do or say.

Fact: Inner confidence changes how you see the world.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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