I've been reading George Eliot's novel Middlemarch. The book revolves around a town. The two main characters are Dorthea Casaubon and Lydgate, a doctor. Dorthea marries an older gentleman whom she wishes to assist in his research on religion. Mr. Casaubon soon after the marriage develops a suspicious attitude toward Dorthea especially since out of kindness she befriends his second cousin, Will Ladislaw. Mr. Casaubon seems to be suspicious of everyone but feels that Dorthea thinks that he is not doing good work because he has not written anything. To make matters worse, Mr. Casaubon's health becomes poor (heart condition) and he is advised to refrain from working. He ends up dying and says in his will that if Dorthea were to marry Will that she would loose her inheritance.
Lydgate falls in love with Rosamond who shows interest in Lydgate because he is related to a baron. After their marriage, the couple accrues a huge amount of debt. Rosamond blames Lydgate and feels that he has ruined her life. Instead of working with her husband to get out of debt, Rosamond undermines him by writing letters to both her relatives and his relatives begging for money. She also tries and persuade him to leave Middlemarch and start his practice elsewhere. Lydgate's pride at being frugal has led him to try to make adjustments to their life style. He gives up several servants and decides to put his furniture up for collateral. When he discovers that he is being undermined, the couple's marriage creates this rift. Both become disillusioned by their marriage and both have trouble communicating with one another.
The main message here is about creating an environment of communication in a marriage. Instead of viewing your spouse as your enemy and ruining your life, discussing how you feel is vital. This book was written in England during the Victorian age. Many people took great pains in keeping their emotions in check. These characters ended up creating a breeding ground for mistrust, suspicion, and egotism.
In the modern age even with our heightened levels of communication and self-awareness, we still are prone to view our spouse (in certain situations) as the "enemy." It's often hard to meld and blend two different people from two different environments without some amount of friction.
I recently read an article in a MOPS magazine. The author was explaining that she and her husband have different philosophies about organizing events. She likes to plan well in advance and he prefers to be spontaneous. After thirteen years of marriage, they have a phrase written on a piece of paper to help resolve this issue.
My husband and I have had no picnic of a marriage. We've learned that we need to communicate more especially how we feel. This has helped a lot because now we are less likely to get suspicious and hurt. I often felt at the beginning of our marriage that my husband was very critical especially about how I chose to clean the house. He felt that he was only thinking out loud and that he wasn't really being nit picky. We've learned to get past that. He has stopped thinking and observing out loud and I've resolved not to be as sensitive. He is even being more positive, which he wasn't at the beginning. Instead of me missing spots on the carpet and observing it, he is now thanking me for cleaning the carpet. I feel like we are more on a team.
Still not everything is roses. Often we get very heated over subjects that are really unimportant, but we're stubborn about our views/opinions. So like the lady from the MOPS article we have a phrase (but we didn't write it down). Simply we say "Do you want to be right or do you want to have peace?" This seems to stop debates dead in their tracks. Because debates are debates ,there isn't any right or wrong answer. It's much better to have peace. I've even heard the phrase "Can we agree to disagree?"
The point is that we're not living in the Victorian age and we're not characters in a novel. Marriage is work and you have to work together to get over obstacles. Otherwise you're in for a lifetime of hurt, disappointments, and resentments.