To be truly clean, the two hands must wash each other. The left hand washes the right hand, and the right hand washes the left hand. The right hand focuses entirely on ensuring that the left hand is clean, while the left hand does the same thing. By the time this selfless service is over, the two hands become sparkling clean.
Ironically, married couples wash their hands everyday without realising that the solution to a happy marriage is in their hands. If they pay a close attention to the relationship between the two hands, they would learn great lessons that no marriage counsellor or marriage book can ever teach them. And it is for free.
Married people fret over how their spouses treat them. Each spouse always expects to be paid special attention. It does not matter that the same spouse does not give the other partner the same special treatment. That underlines the selfishness in human beings. Human beings always think of self first.
The root cause of conflict in marriage is too much focus on oneself. Marriage is less about self and more about the union. Singles can let the earth revolve around them. But once married, one should de-emphasize self and emphasize the partner.
The primary responsibility of a married man is not to provide food, shelter and security for his wife but to ensure that his wife is happy: food, shelter and security are part of those life essentials that cause happiness. The primary responsibility of a married woman is not to cook for her husband, take care of the home and warm his bed, but to ensure that her husband is happy: food, homecare and lovemaking are part of the life essentials that cause happiness. Therefore, a man has failed in his duty if his wife is unhappy. A woman has also failed in her duty if the husband is unhappy. If the woman is unhappy, the man has no business being happy. If the man is unhappy, the woman has no reason to be happy. It does not matter who or what caused the unhappiness. The unhappiness may have been caused by forces outside the home. But the duty of a married person is to ensure that even if the storm of life has buffeted the spouse outside the home, once inside the home, the spouse should be safe and at ease. That way, the spouse is always eager to run back home.
Before taking a decision, a married person should not be only concerned about self satisfaction. The concern should be: "Will this make my spouse happy? Will this make our union happier?" For example, before a man contemplates beating his wife to prove that he is the head of the home or before going after other women because "it is a man's world," he should ask himself if it would make the wife happy. Would he be happy if his wife also sleeps with other men? If a woman enjoys being beaten or being cheated upon, then it is either the woman is sick or completely detached from the man.
The man should be seriously worried because his death may just be a matter of time. Even if the woman does not have any murderous inclination, she will not be concerned if there is a threat to the man's life. Her excuse would be: "After all, I did not have a hand in his death." She would not mourn the man for one second, even if she wears sackcloth for two years. She would be relieved that the nuisance is finally gone and she is free. Such is no marriage.
The argument of many married people is usually: "My wife is the reason I don't like to stay at home". "My heart skips a beat anytime I hear the voice of my husband close to the house." "My wife is simply impossible." "My husband is a sadist: nothing satisfies him like making me unhappy." "You don't know anything about my wife: she is a different type of human being." So, if your spouse was this devilish, what was the attraction in the first place? No, your spouse is not a monster. Both of you have simply lost it! Communication between you two has broken down, and you have stopped caring about each other's happiness.
These days, you actually seek to hurt each other. Rather than do things for your partner, you expect your partner to do things for you first before you can reciprocate. Consequently, both of you wait for the other to start. No, the hands don't act like that when they want to wash each other. That wait may be forever. The hands just start washing each other mechanically, without bothering about which hand should take the first step.
It is very difficult to subdue your desires and wishes and focus on those of your spouse. There is always the feeling that you may end up being cheated: you may make the other happy without the person reciprocating. But in life, these things take care of themselves spontaneously. If strangers can reciprocate your good gestures, why won't someone who loves you reciprocate?
Even wild animals reciprocate kindness and love. The reason your spouse seems irredeemable is because of years of being taken for granted and fed a surfeit of unkind words and actions. Your spouse has complained and complained and given up on you. You have also given up on your spouse. But that spouse can change in the twinkling of an eye if treated with dignity and shown love.
Some would ask why they have to focus on seeking the happiness of their spouse when they also have their own life to live. "Why should I not live my own life? Am I on earth to please someone else?" But that is why marriage is different from single life. There are many things married people do, not because they like them, but because they want a happy home. That is why marriage is full of sacrifices. The knowledge that you have sacrificed things for your spouse fills your spouse with pride and increases the love within.
However, in focusing on the happiness of your spouse, there is a caveat. As a thinking being, you should know the boundary between satisfying your spouse and compromising your principles and beliefs. If your husband tells you to sleep with another man to get a business contract, should you do it because you think it will make him happy? No. Once he gets the contract and the money, he will despise you as an unfaithful wife and look for another wife.
Give and you shall be given, goes the biblical injunction. It does not say: "If you are given, then you have to give." You are required to give first. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Smile and you shall be smiled at. Love others and you shall be loved by others. Help others and you shall receive help. Show mercy to others and you shall obtain mercy. These are not mere religious injunctions. They are tried-and-tested life principles. In life you simply reap what you sow. In marriage, you also reap what you sow, because marriage is life.