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Spouses Who Volunteer Create Awesome Marriages

You cannot love someone maturely and try to control him (or her). The behaviors of both partners should be voluntary.

As you discuss the kind of life you want to have together, focus on what really fits for you. Ideally, before marriage, you will discuss how you would like to handle money, chores and responsibilities, parenting (or step-parenting) concerns, if applicable, where you want to live, and so on.

Do Not Agree to an Unreasonable Demand  

Some people, eager to tie the knot, will agree to a demand, request, or assumption that doesn’t fit for them. A man says that the deal is off unless you agree to move to my city, have a relative live with the two of you, have a kind of wedding that is very different from what you had in mind, or to something else. If you’re tempted to give in because you so want to marry him, ask yourself, “Am I really okay about this? Might I resent him later if I now let him push me into doing something that goes against the grain for me?”

If you notice yourself trying to manipulate a prospective or actual spouse into doing something your way, back off. No good will come from coercing someone into doing something that’s not congruent with his personality.

Your objective should be respectful collaboration, with each of you choosing freely, whatever you agree to do.

If over time, one of you is consistently giving — or giving in — much more than the other, your relationship will probably suffer from the imbalance. In a good friendship, when one person gives a bit more, the other will also want to give more. But if one gives much less, the other’s desire to be generous is likely to shrink, and the relationship will probably spiral down and take on a romance depleting, weighing and measuring, nitpicking mentality.

It’s enough to simply notice in a general way whether you and a potential, or actual, marriage partner are in harmony in the giving arena. If you’re feeling on the short end of receiving, remember that you are both volunteers.

Encouraging Volunteering

So no demands, please, do not insist that he make it up to you or tell each other what they must do. Instead, ask nicely. In a good relationship, both of you enjoy giving in a manner that respects each other’s preferences. If one wants something that the other is not prepared to give, this too is fine; both of you are entitled to have boundaries.

There may be times when you perceive yourself as a victim. This is a normal feeling, but it should be short-lived. View it as a wake-up call to free yourself by taking charge of your words and actions. A true victim remains stuck unhappily in an unwholesome situation.

You don’t need to do so.

If you are unable to get past feeling resentful about an imbalance you perceive in your relationship, you might find couple or individual counseling helpful. So before concluding that an issue is a deal breaker, do seek outside help to resolve it in a way that suits both of you.

As a volunteer, you can choose a relationship and marriage partner wisely. You can communicate in ways that foster more romance, intimacy, and teamwork. You can usually resolve issues respectfully and more smoothly.

Spouses Who Volunteer Create Awesome Marriages

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted (New World Library, 2014, audiobook, 2020), has a private psychotherapy practice in San Rafael, California. She offers and workshops for couples and singles, and continuing education classes for therapists at NASW conferences and online. She has taught also at the UCSF School of Medicine, UC Berkeley Extension, and Alliant International University. A former executive director of a family service agency, she earlier held senior level positions in child welfare, alcoholism treatment, and psychiatry.

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APA Reference
Berger, M. (2018). Spouses Who Volunteer Create Awesome Marriages. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 Dec 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.