Marriage Is For Losers

You can be right, or you can be married; take your pick. I can’t remember who told me that, but I do remember that they were only half-joking. The other half, the serious half, is exceedingly important. This is why.

Many therapists aren’t crazy about doing marital therapy. It’s complicated and messy, and it often feels out of control. In the worst case scenario, the therapist has front row seats to a regularly-scheduled prize fight. But I love to do marital therapy. Why? Maybe I enjoy the work because I keep one simple principle in mind: if marriage is going to work, it needs to become a contest to see which spouse is going to lose the most, and it needs to be a race that goes down to the wire.

When it comes to winning and losing, I think there are three kinds of marriages. In the first kind of marriage, both spouses are competing to win, and it’s a duel to the death. Husbands and wives are armed with a vast arsenal, ranging from fists, to words, to silence. These are the marriages that destroy. Spouses destroy each other, and, in the process, they destroy the peace of their children. In fact, the destruction is so complete that research tells us it is better for children to have divorced parents than warring parents. These marriages account for most of the fifty percent of marriages that fail, and then some. The second kind of marriage is ripe with winning and losing, but the roles are set, and the loser is always the same spouse. These are the truly abusive marriages, the ones in which one spouse dominates, the other submits, and in the process, both husband and wife are stripped of their dignity. These are the marriages of addicts and enablers, tyrants and slaves, and they may be the saddest marriages of all.

But there is a third kind of marriage. The third kind of marriage is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all—themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other.  These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.

And they are revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word.

Because we live in a culture in which losing is the enemy (except in Chicago, where Cubs fans have made it a way of life). We wake up to news stories about domestic disputes gone wrong. Really wrong.  We go to workplaces where everyone is battling for the boss’s favor and the next promotion, or we stay at home where the battle for the Legos is just as fierce. Nightly, we watch the talking heads on the cable news networks, trying to win the battle of ideas, although sometimes they seem quite willing to settle for winning the battle of decibels. We fight to have the best stuff, in the best name brands, and when we finally look at each other at the end of the day, we fight, because we are trained to do nothing else. And, usually, we have been trained well. In the worst of cases, we grew up fighting for our very survival, both physically and emotionally. But even in the best of situations, we found ourselves trying to win the competition for our parents’ attention and approval, for our peers’ acceptance, and for the validating stamp of a world with one message: win. And, so, cultivating a marriage in which losing is the mutual norm becomes a radically counter-cultural act. To sit in the marital therapy room is to foment a rebellion.

What do the rebellious marriages look like? Lately, when my blood is bubbling, when I just know I’ve been misunderstood and neglected, and I’m ready to do just about anything to convince and win what I deserve, I try to remember a phone call we recently received from my son’s second grade teacher. She called us one day after school to tell us there had been an incident in gym class. After a fierce athletic competition, in which the prize was the privilege to leave the gym first, my son’s team had lost. The losers were standing by, grumbling and complaining about second-grade-versions of injustice, as the victors filed past. And that’s when my son started to clap. He clapped for the winners as they passed, with a big dopey grin on his face and a smile stretched from one ear of his heart to the other.  His startled gym teacher quickly exhorted the rest of his team to follow suit. So, a bunch of second grade losers staged a rebellion, giving a rousing ovation for their victorious peers, and in doing so, embraced the fullness of what it can mean to be a loser. When I’m seething, I try to remember the heart of a boy, a heart that can lose graciously and reach out in affection to the victors.

In marriage, losing is letting go of the need to fix everything for your partner, listening to their darkest parts with a heart ache rather than a solution. It’s being even more present in the painful moments than in the good times. It’s finding ways to be humble and open, even when everything in you says that you’re right and they are wrong. It’s doing what is right and good for your spouse, even when big things need to be sacrificed, like a job, or a relationship, or an ego. It is forgiveness, quickly and voluntarily. It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving. It is seeking peace by accepting the healthy but crazy-making things about your partner because, you remember, those were the things you fell in love with in the first place. It is knowing that your spouse will never fully understand you, will never truly love you unconditionally—because they are a broken creature, too—and loving them to the end anyway.          

Maybe marriage, when it’s lived by two losers in a household culture of mutual surrender, is just the training we need to walk through this world—a world that wants to chew you up and spit you out—without the constant fear of getting the short end of the stick. Maybe we need to be formed in such a way that winning loses its glamour, that we can sacrifice the competition in favor of people. Maybe what we need, really, is to become a bunch of losers in a world that is being a torn apart by the competition to win. If we did that, maybe we’d be able to sleep a little easier at night, look our loved ones in the eyes, forgive and forget, and clap for the people around us.

I think that in a marriage of losers, a synergy happens and all of life can explode into a kind of rebellion that is brighter than the sun. The really good rebellions, the ones that last and make the world a better place, they are like that, aren’t they? They heal, they restore. They are big, and they shine like the sun. And, like the sun, their gravitational pull is almost irresistible.

Notes: 

For more on rebellious love, read another post, Dangerous, Rebellious Hope (Part 3 of 3).

For more on marriage, read, Marriage Is For LiarsYour Marriage Is A Mess, or Marriage and Scooby-Doo (and the Freedom of Mystery).

If you would like to be notified of future posts, you can subscribe by e-mail in the sidebar. You can also receive notification by joining me on Twitter or liking my page on Facebook.

This post will be submitted to Rachel Held Evans‘ synchroblog regarding egalitarianism in marriage. 

And, as always, thanks for reading. It’s a gift. 

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing at Alliance Clinical Associates in Wheaton, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Willa Goodfellow

    I went from the second kind of marriage to the third, the greatest blessing in my life. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Brian McLaughlin

    Kelly, I wish I would’ve written that. I’m gonna have my wife read it. Boy does she need it. Actually she does well at losing. I’ve still gotta ways to go. I also have some couples who I am going to share it with as well. Thanks for writing this. I am now a follower of your blog.

    • Landon

      Yeah Brian you need to lose a whole lot more. Seriously, a lot more.

  • Mo-Coffee

    Brilliant! I, too, want to thank you for the reminder.

  • drkellyflanagan

    Thank you to all of you for reading and for your words of encouragement. I’m glad these thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for a while have been resonating with you. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to generally refrain from replying to comments, upon the advice of a friend, in order to be a more present husband and father, but I couldn’t help but express my gratitude today. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and by all means, keep the discussion going!

  • Tim

    Interesting that you wrote this the same weekend as this WSJ article:

    http://goo.gl/v4iXB

    We were reading it tonight and I found myself just feeling sad. But they indicated a similar source to what you indicated.

    Tim

    • faunbon

      That was depressing. Good eye-opener, though.

  • Sheri Payne

    Exactly what a Christian marriage was designed to be. 1 Corinthians 13 in action.

    • bigchas40

      Thank you for posting this important Biblical truth. After all, marriage is not something created by the world. It is not the invention of man, or a culture, but rather it is a gift, created by God. We would all do well to strive to preserve it’s sanctity.

      • Sandy

        How do you figure that?

      • izzy

        Really? How do you know that?

    • dumbox2

      Yes. Sacrificial Love! Laying down your life for the other. God becomes a man to teach us how to give up our lives for each other.

  • Karen Sappington

    You are right. My parents had the first kind of marriage. My husband and I are pushing 25 years and are largely succeeding at having a ‘losing’ marriage. We have weathered the raising of two children, a tornado hit to our home and, more recently, my cancer and chemo. Our marriage is stronger than ever. Thank you for your excellent observations and for sharing them.

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  • ktina1

    Just got around to reading this. Last weekend was crazy. Loved it by the way! I’m happy to say, after 8 years of marriage, Jason and I finally Found the 3rd kind of marriage, And have both been “losing” for 4 years now. And you are right, it takes a heck of a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it!

  • Sheri Sacks Ruiz

    wow. awesome. My husband and I are going through therapy now, and we are learning to lose. It is hard, but the reward is peace. The reward is love. The reward is watching our girls say “gross” when we kiss, hug, and hold hands. I have a lot of work to do, prayers to say but this article brought me one step closer. Thank you.

    • Albert

      We are all free to make the choices we want. But none of us are free of the consequences from the choices we make.

      I wish you the best in your marriage and I hope it stays together til death do you part.

  • Karen

    Very thoughtful post. Wish I had seen this years ago when I was married but it’s certainly breadcrumbs for along the way if I ever go down that road again. Thanks Dr. Flanagan.

    Btw – you are an incredibly good writer. This blog could morph into a book, you know. And as for comments – your responses inspire people to leave theirs. It’s all good:)

    • drkellyflanagan

      Karen, thank you for your encouraging words. I am still definitely in the process of figuring out how I want to approach this blog, so I appreciate your thoughts about commenting. I’m sure the best place to land will be somewhere between replying to every comment and not replying at all. I also wanted to thank you for sharing your experience. In fact, to all those who have commented and shared of their marital experience, both the joyful and the sorrowful, thank you. To share of your marital success is not bragging–it’s edifying. So, please, new and returning readers, please feel free to share in these comments your experience of marriage. We will all learn and grow from the wisdom you have earned along the way.

      • Carla

        I grew up in a losing marriage. My parents will soon celebrate 50 years, and they are the most loving couple I know. It was such a great example that for years I did not know there was any other kind. That example has been a major factor in my very happy 20 year marriage, despite having gotten married very young.

  • John Nielsen

    Great article. After 35 years in a marriage that morphed from type one to type three my wife passed away from the effects of MS. I thank the Lord often that we found our way. I can honestly say that I have no regrets. Her last ten years were not good, her health was horrible and I became her primary caregiver. We ended up finding a satisfaction and love beyond anything I could have imagined.

    Not long after her death, and some rather odd circumstances, I met my present wife. What I had learned serving my late wife and what my present wife had learned from a type two marriage, her being the constant looser, that had ended twelve years earlier has allowed us to start out as co-losers. We have a marriage that is nothing short of amazing. Every day it is better than the day before. Our love and passion for each other grows stronger each minute of each day. We married twenty nine days after meeting, are now in our third year as husband and wife and are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives serving and loving each other. Ain’t being a loser wonderful!

    • Mary

      John – WOW. Thank you with all of my heart for your story. YOU and your wives are an inspiration. Thank you for story and for giving us more hope. You are altogether lovely. Thank you so much.
      Spurred on by you –
      Mary

    • Don

      John –
      My wife and I only had 16 1/2 years together before she died of MS at the age of 38. God helped us through the most painful period of our lives and taught me a level of love that, I believe, most people do not know. Jesus was our example, washing the disciples feet. He told us to be servants; that if we want to be first we must learn to be the least. The best marriages I know are the ones with committed Christians following Biblical principles. “The Gift of the Magi” should be required reading before getting married!
      God Bless You!

      • izzy

        That’s funny, the best marriages I know are the ones with atheists and agnostics following the principles of secular humanism. I think that says more about our respective circles of friends than about the effectiveness of any particular religion.

        • Albert

          Izzy, I agree. It you have a strong circle of friends that will hold you accountable to the promises you made to your spouses you will fair better regardless of what you put your faith in. The only difference between Christians and atheists is where they believe they will be going once they die. They are all people that will respond the same way if they chose to be selfish. If they chose to not be selfish then the won’t.

      • Wren

        I’ll just leave this here, for your anecdotal opinion to dwell on…

        http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistfamiliesmarriage/a/AtheistsDivorce.htm

        • Albert

          Wren, Thanks for the link. Those are some interesting stats he has there. If he linked to the original study, I don’t see it on the page. I would like to look and see if the numbers he posted our accurate.
          I am not implying that he would be dishonest, but these days, everyone has an agenda, right?

          What we have to understand is that Christians, atheists and agnostics are all human. So why should we think they will act differently? Do atheists think that because we say we believe that God exists and we believe and follow Him, that we have lost some sort of sin gene? If someone tells you that, they are lying. The only thing that has changed is our desire to sin might have diminished if we are actually focusing on what Jesus told us to do. Unfortunately, we are still living in the same body that we were before we accepted Christ, so it is something we have to contend with.

          The author also says a couple of things that peaked my interest, “Well, an obvious possibility is treating women like fully autonomous equals in the relationship, something which conservative Christianity frequently denies.”
          He doesn’t seem to show where he comes to this conclusion. I can tell you that most Christians I know would disagree with this comment.

          I also liked the whole claim that he makes where the Christians that are getting divorced are also the ones against gay marriage. Again, another assertion with no evidence for his claim.

          The authors claim, in regards to same-sex marriage, is that there is no harm in letting people do what they want with their own lives.

          The author has made a common mistake in assuming this issue is about limiting the freedom of homosexuals. There is nothing that stops homosexuals from making lifelong commitments to each other. Gays already are allowed to make the same commitment. In fact, it’s done all the time. They already have the liberty to do what they want with their own lives. A marriage license, however, goes a step further than providing liberty. It doesn’t give liberty, it gives society’s approval of that union, which homosexuals don’t presently have. Homosexual marriage is not about what homosexuals are being forced by others not to do, but what society is being forced to do by homosexuals: approve. That’s another issue entirely.

          Second, implicit in the act of altering the definition of marriage to include homosexuals is the acknowledgment that marriage isn’t anything in particular, but can be defined and redefined as society likes. If marriage isn’t any particular thing, then family isn’t any particular thing either. If we then concede that family isn’t anything in particular, but is simply a convention, a social construct we invented and can alter at will, then this has direct ramifications for the future of the family as we know it. How can you say this isn’t an impact?

          Harm is done by letting homosexuals change the definition of marriage. But again, that won’t matter to those that want this to happen. All they care about is getting their way.

    • johanna harman

      Awesome. Lovely to hear.

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  • Cam

    Thank you for your article. It is a good reminder, one I hope we all follow. I think it could fix many of the worlds problems, if we would first fix the problems within our homes.

  • Art Valdivieso

    Great article…! I recently re-married to an awesome loser like me…what a difference!

  • Rachelle

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
    After weeks of therapy with a wonderful husband and not much progresses, you helped me to see what I haven’t been able to see in a matter of minutes. While I was well aware that my marriage is a second and I’m a sore loser, I need to embrace losing the battle so I can win the war.

  • wanderingdaph

    Thank you. A friend shared it on facebook and I found so much meaning in your reflection. I have been married only for three years but I am able to relate to your piece so closely. It does take a “a heart that can lose graciously and reach out in affection to the victors.”

  • Angela S

    Thank you for writing this! I’ve had a ‘loser’ marriage for 28 years (next month). I was married at a young 20 years old and have learned that we need to not only ‘lose’ with our spouse, but our children (5 of them) too! This article just reinforced to me why our marriage has been so strong all of these years. We’re not perfect by any means, it takes work to lose–I never thought I’d say that! I’m adding your blog to my RSS feed and can’t wait to read your next article! Thanks again!

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  • Wendy Norman

    Here’s my question. If the truly successful marriages are those based on “losing” what would happen if society went the same route? Instead of workplaces being packed with competition and backstabbing are finding success, wouldn’t the success increase if cooperation and support were the standard?

    • kitsunerina

      I’ve worked at a place where cooperation and support were the standard. It was hard work so we were glad when Friday came, but it was like being surrounded by friends all the time – who shared your good times and the bad. For a newbie like me, it gave me the confidence that I could succeed while still giving me the corrections I needed. I’ll be forever thankful that I could work there. In a place where cooperation and support are the norm it takes less energy to do a better job, at whatever that job is.

  • dinowatt

    Thanks for sharing this. Great stuff indeed. If more couples understood that if one looses no one wins. It’s the first rule we teach when it comes to arguing.
    I will be reposting this on our blog.

  • Melanie

    Thank you! The 3rd kind is definitely ideal. My hubby is a very gracious loser…when it comes to our relationship anyway ;) He’s taught me a lot over the last 13.5 years. Letting go of the need for things to be “perfect” and just letting them be what they are, and celebrating where we are at and that we are making progress is so much more rewarding! This was a great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gina

    Well put. I am glad to be among the LOSERS! Thank you for sharing this. I am seeing it all over Facebook, and what a great kind of article to be shared! God bless!

  • Abbie

    Allow me to present…a fourth type of marriage. A marriage that sees everything as a partnership. In the three-footed leg race of life this marriage concentrates on working together and doing it as best they can, instead of focusing on winning, or losing. A marriage where if we fall, we fall together, and we laugh our way through the skinned knees and pitfalls that inevitably arise. A respectful marriage where each partner gives their heart with absolute trust that the other would never do anything to intentionally harm the other, and each partner protects that trust like the incredible gift it is.
    But, then…you probably don’t see many of those…in therapy, I mean.
    8 years. 4 kids. Plenty of skinned knees, and a crazy amount of laughter.

    • Leblanc

      I think the concept of “losing yourself for your spouse” enables a partnership where true love flows. This beautiful partnership described in your 4th is the same as the 3rd.

    • S&B

      I think that was what he was trying to describe in the 3rd marriage

    • Sally

      I like Abbie’s response–because it’s not just losing, but losing with the expectation of partnership with a spouse, with some boundaries and lots of humor. The only thing that concerns me about this blog post is how many women I see going for #3 (or reading something like this and thinking, “Yeah, ours must be the third kind”) when really they are the losing partner 75% or more of the time, without equal commitment to that from a partner. I see that way too often in relationships among people I know.

      • drkellyflanagan

        Sally, This is an excellent point. I would encourage any spouse, if you aren’t absolutely sure you are in a marriage in which you are both equally committed to sacrifice, seek out feedback from people who won’t hesitate to tell you the truth. If you need to, find a therapist who can provide you with an objective assessment of your marriage.

        • btheisen

          At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the “loser” language. But then I realized if you used “servant” or “sacrifice” or any similar moniker that is viewed so negatively in our society of selfishness, you might not have sparked as many people to read and comment. My husband and I were both blessed with parents who lost themselves to each other; my parents missed 50 years but 5 months due to my father’s battle with cancer. We have been married 33 years, have to young adults (one married) and I pray daily that they will have happy, loving relationships. Thank you for bringing awareness to the “secrets of success” in marriage.

        • Albert

          I am in no way a expert on this but isn’t the point to be giving of yourself regardless of the response you get from your spouse?

          How do you sacrifice “yourself” if you have an expectation from how you have responded to your spouse? This sounds counter-productive.

          “I did such and such and he never reciprocates with doing such and such for me!”
          That doesn’t sound very unselfish to me.

          If we deny ourselves, that means that we should deny our desire for a response, wouldn’t you think?

          We should be open enough to love our spouse regardless if they love us back.

          Now, after all that is said, I’m also able to say that if your spouse is acting badly (going out with the guys to the bars, not giving the kids attention, the wife not helping out the husband when it is wanting sex, not helping out around the house, etc.) that we should be able to speak up and tell them that they need to change or there will be consequences.

          Divorce should never be on the table – ever.
          Separation is a better option as it’s only used to pull the slack out of the spouse that is acting badly.

          There is nothing wrong with bringing issues/problems out in the open and to those around us. The reason you do that is also to pull the slack out of the offending spouse.

          Most of us remember when we got married and all of those people sat there and witnessed the joining of two people. So why shouldn’t they also be witness to the problems?

          What this does is bring other people into the issue so that they have the ability to confront the offending spouse and hopefully change bad behavior.

          Anyway, I will get off my soap box for now. Thanks for listening, and keep losing!

    • plantingpennies

      Abbie, I like your presentation of the 4th kind of marriage simply because it eliminates the “competition” language. However, a partnership can quickly lead each partner to a false understanding that they only need to give 50%. After all, 50+50 = 100, right? My husband and I agreed that serving and giving of ourselves to the other each 100% as zealously as possible is the best approach. We know there are days/weeks/months when we simply can’t give like that because we, too, are broken – but these are the times when the other will do the carrying. And this is the heart of Kelly’s message. When you are committed to living for the pure benefit of the other, clapping for them in their victories with a sincere heart becomes second nature. It’s a beautiful place.

    • Faith Rono

      i like!

    • Jesse

      Amen Abbie!! That is exactly what I was thinking while reading this article (where’s the 4th kind??). Respecting and constant communicating really don’t show up in therapy do they? My wife and I are about to have our first child. Bring on the skinned knees and laughter!!

  • Jessica

    As a Christian and a counselor, I know that you are right on. I have been married for almost 16 years and there isn’t any thing I want or any fight I want to win more than the love of my husband. Love is the only sustaining thing.

  • Anne Gould

    Wonderful. Thank you for publishing this! Wonderful thoughts and superb writing. The world needs to read this. :)

  • Jen

    I agree with Abbie, a partnership with skinned knees! :D Married 18 years, 6 children, plenty of roller-coaster events and skinned knees and laughter.

  • Sterling

    and as Jesus taught, by losing, we win.

    “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”

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  • Mishqueen

    So…what does a type 2 marriage do to become a type 3 marriage? Please don’t indicate that the Loser in the marriage needs to lose more humbly to the Winner than ever. Isn’t that how they get in this mess in the first place? ‘Assisted abuse’ is a good term. BUT what options does the Loser have besides turning the marriage into type 1? Is the marriage happiness truly only in the hands of the Winner, IF they decide to become a Loser also?

    • SE

      I want to know the answer to this question too. The only way I can think of maintaining my true self is to not stand idly by and let my spouse criticize every move I make. Although he often voices regret about “being a jerk” and promises to try harder our roles are very clearly defined. Is there any value in being a loser in the relationship if I am the only one?

      • drkellyflanagan

        These are EXCELLENT questions. I wonder if any readers who have moved from a “type 2″ to a “type 3″ marriage would have advice for Mishqueen and Emily?

        • mark

          The way to change self and relationships is to learn and follow the teachings found in the sermon on the mount found in Mattew 5 to 7. Look at the teachings as metaphors that reveal the principals and doctrines that have the power to harmonizes and purifies human relationships. For example, Aggree with your advisary quickly means to find the solution to a problem that both people can be satisfied with. In this way both people feel heard, both feel equal, both people feel valued, both feel respected and this helps both value the relationship enough to want to keep it healthy. This is love in action. This produces winners in goodness. These things saved my marriage and we are happier than we have ever been. Married at 19 and 17 years old for 40 years

        • wildivy

          The answer to those questions is not quite simple enough to answer in a few paragraphs.
          I recommend “CoDependent No More” for a complete answer to that question.
          Married into type 3, but had to resolve a type 2 relationship for myself before that. This book literally saved my life.

      • jlanewell

        I dont think the type one marriage would be good for anyone and least of all if you have kids. The type 2 marriage well I would say it would depend on what the issues are. I have long thought if you argue about money…it is not about money. It is about priorities and respect and values. Ask yourself what you are really fighting about. Then ask your self if what your are fighting about is worth it or not. If it is about how to fold towels in the closet …let it go. If it is about how to raise your kids then your need to be willing to stick around and work through it. Type 2 marriage change to Type 3 marriages when you as a couple decide and commit to really being married for the long haul. I found that having a common faith in God and a willingness to go to counseling and more than anything a willingness to take off the critical glasses I wear and put on the rose colored once from when we were dating to learn to appreciate the little things they do. Men, I think respond to women when they feel appreciated and they feel like they are valued for what they bring to the table. I know you will say that is all you want too. But if you spend more time worrying about their needs and less about your own it changes your heart. You dont see them as someone to fight with, you see them as the loving partner you married and wanted to spend your life with. Sounds easy but it was hard work. It is worth it. I am thankful my husband loved me through all the right fighting I did early in our marriage. Gary Smalley had several books I have read over the years that really helped me to see things differently.

      • Summer

        SE: I think you have to love yourself first in this situation. The day to day degrading takes a huge toll and without a mutually caring partnership you have to care for yourself before him. Voicing reality may help, at least help you. I don’t know of any way to change an abuser. I only know that refusing to allow further abuse and demanding kindness, or nothing, was how I survived. The shame and secrecy are the power abusers hold over us and admitting the reality of the situation removes that power. I wish you well.

      • Mrs Criss

        The first 10 years of my marriage was Type 2 and I was the loser. The last 11 years have been good, and the last 3 amazing! Through marriage counselling and some good books I learned that I must have strong boundaries to end the cycle of abuse. I also learned some hard lessons: that I need to appreciate the good in my husband (without condoning the bad) and find some way to show him respect. It’s not impossible, but both need to be willing.

    • John

      Waiting for any responses… This is important to me as well. Continuing to submit to the dominant spouse in the Type 2 marriage seems like losing in a bad sense.

      • drkellyflanagan

        John (and others following this thread): Yes, unilateral submission to a domineering spouse results in a very unhealthy relationship. The “Losers” post was intended to articulate the beauty of a mutually sacrificial relationship, so it did not address the issue of changing the “Type 2″ marriage. But if you find yourself in such a relationship, you know as well as anyone that it absolutely does need to change. Each relationship is unique and because all spouses have their own particular histories, I do a thorough clinical assessment (usually about three sessions), before I first offer feedback and guidance to the couples with whom I work. So, although I cannot offer specific advice about your marriage, I can offer two general suggestions, both of which involve seeing a therapist. First, you can request that your spouse attend marital therapy with you. If your spouse is willing to go and actively participate, that is a very encouraging sign. If your spouse is unwilling to participate in therapy, I recommend that you begin your own individual therapy. The therapist will be able to help you understand more about how you ended up in this role in the relationship, help you make wise decision about how to handle the relationship, and support you along the way. I hope that provides a starting point. Remember, this isn’t the end of things; it can be the beginning of a very good story, your very good story.

    • Loretta

      My marriage has been a type 2 marriage the whole 10 yrs. With the help of family and friends I was finally able to leave him last fall. Our divorce should be final this summer. I became very ‘sick’ for the majority of our marriage. Now that I have been away from him, I can breath again, I’m smiling ‘real’ happy smiles again and my personality is coming back. With 3 children in tow, it was the toughest decision I ever made. But I am so happy that I finally did it. I was married to an addict that turns into a tyrant and he was so emotionally abusive (along w/ other forms as well). I practically killed myself trying to save our marriage and create happiness w/ him. I finally decided that my happiness and health was something I had to have to be good momma to our kiddos. The way it was, I was sad, depressed and always anxious, never knowing how he was going to act from one hour to the next. I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. I’m hoping that one day I can be in a happy type 3 marriage like my own parents have. Thanks for this article.

      • theJoygal

        HI Loretta,

        Good for your sista – not necessarily for making the hard decision to leave – but to put your health first so you could be a mama to your kiddos! So important so the next generation has a better chance of NOT becoming what they saw us do. I too was in for 9 years, have 2 young kiddos and trying to figure out life now…but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have been getting my personality back – or discovering it for the first time and am on a mission to help others learn how to become all they are meant to be. Its amazing how misguided I was in what it takes to have a healthy marriage. I write a blog that you might enjoy – seeing as we have almost exact same stories as far as years, kids and timing. http://www.realmamareallife.com or email me at fitrealmama(at sign)gmail(dot)com.

    • theJoygal

      I wrote out a long reply but not sure it came through. please let me know if it didn’t and I will try to remember what I said…but I have a lot of thoughts on this and can be read over at http://www.realmamareallife.com for the most part.

      I’m coming at this from a “Christian” angle as well, and have good news for those that don’t think the Bible supports divorce in this case. That info can also be found over at my blog.

      Resources:
      ‘why does he do that? inside the minds of angry and controlling men’ Lundy Bancroft (best book I have found that could tell me what it takes for a man to change and how to best know if it is genuine. Also runs a recovery program but only in Mass.)

      any book by Patricia Evans

      Life Skills, Int’l – great recovery class for ANY one to take if they want to “grow” up into emotional adulthood. Learning to Live, Learning to Love is class name

      • theJoygal

        Bummer, see that my long reply back to the ladies asking about moving from type #2 to #3 didn’t come thru! I’ll try again:

        Winners in type 2 marriages will need a LOT of external pain (like a very realistic threat of divorce even to divorce itself – in my opinion I don’t know/think that separations do much except extend the turmoil for the abused) to even begin to get them to think about making changes in their own personal life and to stop abusing. They are typically narcissistic personality types and are so far into denial about themselves that they cannot see they have any problems with the way they relate to you and the world. It is true that they wound out of their own woundedness, but until everyone around them stops enabling them – and on a grandeur scale our society stops enabling abusers (typically males, but can be females) with the stereotypes about gender roles – these abusers won’t ever have enough “emotional pain” to be able to ever face themselves.

        There are some good programs out there, but – and I HATE to be the downer on this…but why I am so passionate about seeing what I can do to be part of the change of these stats – the rehab for abusive men is around 1 in 10. Yes, you read that right, only 10% of men who enter an abusive rehab program become non-abusive. Since their addiction is the power/control of the relationship – an intangible object unlike drugs/alcohol/porn – it is much harder to know what it takes for them to change. They CAN though – and that is the good news. Google Paul Hegstrom (founder of Life Skills, Int’l) and see if you can find the movie about his life that John Ridder plays in “Unforgivable”.

        In the meantime, they – abusers – can be really good at looking like they are changing until the external pressures lesson and they go right back to their old means, and sometimes get worse. This is why you hear of women continually going back to the abusive mate time and again. It is a horrible, hard to understand, really fuzzy cycle of abuse when you are in it…and only became clear little by little the further I get away from it. Again, Lundy Bancroft’s book was the best I found that helped me understand what it takes and what it looks like if he is really making the enormous effort to change.

        One last thing I would say based on the experts in the field of DV/Abusive relationships – marital counseling does not work and it is advised to avoid it. (This is based on the principal that marriage counselors are trained that it is always 50/50 in marriages – 50% his problem, 50% hers. But in abusive marriages, this is not the ratio – and the abused can latterly die trying to get to his/her 50% but it is never enough….would love to hear Dr. Flanagan’s take on this!)

        Generally, marriage counseling only serves for a place to re-abuse the abused, give more knowledge to the abuser so he/she can be “smarter” about their abuse and do almost nothing to help the marriage. The INITIAL problem isn’t a marital problem, but one of disrespect and unrealistic views of healthy relationships and the world, usually mixed in with a big dose of co-dependency among other things. BOTH partners need to work on what is healthy vs. unhealthy, on what their own separate wounds are first. If the abuser isn’t willing to work on that either with a TRAINED DV counselor or in a program, then at least you know where you stand and can make your decision with this instead of dancing around in the dark.

        I definitely have my ideas on how I would have done things differently if I had to do it over again in hopes of having a better chance of saving my marriage…but I am not sure you want to hear those. If so you can email me at fitrealmama(at sign)gmail. In general though, I think you need to get yourself into an abuse recovery program (like Life SKills), start to understand the abuse cycle and what it is about you that led you into this type of relationship…and this will help you know what to do about your marriage.

        I will leave you with this, unfortunate and unfair as it is – it is the truth and the truth can do nothing but set you free: “It takes two to make a marriage work, and only one to ruin it.”

        • drkellyflanagan

          Thank you for your thoughtful response about “Type 2″ marriages. I would not disagree with anything you have said, and I would direct others who are following this thread to tap into your experience and wisdom here. Also, I came across an additional resource yesterday that supports what you are saying and may also be a resource for others, a book entitled, “Why Does He Do That?”, by Lundy Bancroft. With regard to the question about marital therapy with an abusive spouse, my general recommendation is that a condition for continuing the therapy would be that both spouses are in their own individual therapy and that the marital therapist is working closely with both individual therapists. If the abusive spouse is willing to follow through with this recommendation, there may be hope for the relationship.

          • theJoygal

            Thank you Dr. Flanagan for your reply! I actually highly recommend Lundy’s book for anyone that is in a type 2 marriage – and wants to know what it takes to move it towards a type 3. It wasn’t until I read this book that I understood what was really going on in my own marriage.

            • Jacque Small (@jacquebig)

              This is a very interesting thread. I had never thought that much about abusive marriages. From your comments Joygal, it would seem that the controlling spouse likely has some significant lack of self-esteem issues and a lot of emotional conditioning issues from childhood. I look forward to reading the book by Lundy Bancroft.

              I have just written a piece about being Lost in Our Emotional Jungle http://yourdivinedivorce.com/2012/06/lost-in-your-emotional-jungle/ which would seem to be the case for someone who is abusive.

        • Albert

          How do you stop an abuser in a marriage from abusing?

          I would think, as you stated above, we need to stop enabling them.

          To me:
          – That would mean accountability.
          – That would mean confronting the abuser about their actions.
          – That would mean that their abuse is no longer done in secret.
          – That would mean that the abused person would know that they have a support group that wont continue the secrecy.

          From what I understand (correct me if I’m wrong), most abusers get away with it because the abused spouse or family members keep it secret, right?

          If the abuser knows that they person they are abusing will not keep quiet about it, they will tend not to do it.

          There seems to be a stigma in marriages that dirty laundry isn’t told to those around you. All the bad things are kept secret.

          Friends of couples, where one was abusing the other, never even knew it was happening until one of them divorced the other. Or if they did know, they never really took it upon themselves to address the issue with the abusing spouse. Which is very sad. That really isn’t being a friend, now is it?

          Something that we fail as a society is to realize that marriage is not an island. And when we treat it as such, we enable bad behavior.

          I get that a lot, if not all, abusers were probably abused earlier in life, but that gives them no right to continue the cycle. They need help to stop and that, I believe, comes through accountability.

          If they understand that the people around them know that it’s not easy to refocus the anger or self esteem issues in more appropriate outlets then I think they would actually welcome accountability rather then push it away.

          Separation should be used to pull the slack out of the spouse that is acting badly. You tell them, when not fighting, that you will not accept them behaving that way anymore. You do it nicely and honestly. You tell them that if they keep it up, you will be gone when they come home that evening. And then you follow through with your warning to them. You don’t keep it a secret from others as to why you left, you make it known. You tell your spouses friends, so they have a chance to tell your spouse, “What the heck are you doing?” and then you only come back if your spouse has shown they they are willing to change.

          Christianity allows for only one out of a marriage and that’s adultery. But even Jesus said that is because of the hardening of our hearts. Adultery can be overcome. I know, I’m living proof. But it takes us really understanding what we vowed to do at that alter. Through better and worse, in sickness and health, til death do us part.

          That doesn’t mean we give up trying to make it work. That doesn’t mean we do it alone. That means we do everything possible to make the marriage work and do all we can to die to our self so that we get out of the way of a great marriage.

          Why did most of us get marriage for in the first place? I bet most of you would say because you loved that person enough to want to spend the rest of your life with them, right?

          Well if so, then what changed? It was ourselves.

          If we didn’t change, we would still feel that way. But when we get in the way and become selfish, we don’t care about the other person. We don’t care about making the marriage work. All we care about is being happy. When did Jesus ever say we were to be happy in this life? And even Paul, who had a thorn in his side, didn’t get farther than being content in all situations, right?

          Anyway, I will get of my soap box now.

          theJoygal, I would really appreciate your feedback on what I have said here, and anyone else that would like to chime in.

          I’m not expert in this area, but I do know that worse and sickness can be over come with the right mindset and the right support.

    • Amanda

      From someone who has went from a type 1 marriage to a type 2 and now on the road to a type 3, I feel like the best way to transition is to communicate. It doesn’t make you the “winner” if you ask your spouse to play fair. At the beginning of our marriage we both had to be right ALL the time. Then, I got tired of the fighting and just started to let him win all the time. All that led to was unsatisfactory with myself and I lost the person I used to be. That eventually led to him cheating which is the hardest thing to forgive in someone. I basically sat him down and told him, “I want this to work and I am willing to try whatever it takes, but I will not spend the rest of my life being treated like this because I don’t deserve it. I love you and I just want us to grow together in love.” This is hard for most people because they don’t know how to communicate without attacking their partner. So definitely have “the talk” when you are both in good terms and try to remember that feelings are fragile and that a defensive mechanism is the precursor to anger and rage. Today, when my husband does something hurtful, I choose a later time to talk to him about it when my emotions aren’t raging. I usually start off like, “Hey, you know you really hurt my feelings yesterday when you said that. Did you really mean that?” And I encourage him to talk to me about things that I do, instead of having him repress his feelings. So far, for the past 3 years, this has been working for us. We still have a lot to do, but we have the rest of our lives to keep on working on it.

      • drkellyflanagan

        Excellent advice, Amanda! And to everyone else who is sharing, thank you! I wish I had time to respond to each and every one.

  • Hillary

    I don’t like the idea of two people in a marriage being compared to being in a competition. I get where you’re going with it and I think it’s important to have the traits you were talking about in the 3rd marriage, but I feel like it wasn’t the best analogy. I think it’s better to focus on love and marriage in a way other than competing. (even if it is competing to lose)

    • loveathm (my regular sn – LOL!)

      I agree, Hillary. The biggest difficulty I had reading this article was that the best marriage is one where everyone loses. I get the point, that healthy marriage is about self-LESS-ness and learning to have pure charity for our spouses, but in doing this we are able to find true joy and happiness – which, by far, is not losing. I loved the message of the article, but the analogy just wasn’t right for me.

  • Emily

    This is the kind of Biggest Loser I want to be. Thank you for the reminder.

  • PoppynJohn Kelly

    I LOVE THIS!! We are Losers and Loving life!! Thank you for putting into beautifully written words what a wonderful marriage can be like! It’s amazing to be A Loser!!! XOXO~Poppy

  • Johnny Waterman

    What a powerful message, that really hit home, thank you. Reading this instantly engulfed me in a rush of memories, reminding me of how much I love my wife. I just wanted to run out and do everything for her.

    Being in a new marriage, I find it challenging to stay in a type 3 marriage and catch myself slipping into a type 1 at times. Only to be reminded that winning gets you nowhere and it’s lonely at the top. Love each other, there’s really no other option.

  • sweetsound

    I’ve been single for almost a year now after having been married for 6 years. This post is very insightful, but what it really makes me feel, is relieved that I don’t have to worry about it any more.

  • Francis Smith

    This is the saddest thing I’ve ever read. I live a marriage that is not perfect, but if those are 99.999% of the marriages and mine does not fit into those. I guess my marriage is as close to perfect as one can get.

    We have one child and he is most important in our life. Maybe that is our secret. Although in a few years when he needs less from us, maybe we will fit into one of the above. I hope not.

  • Donna Tombs Gabriel

    In the early years of our marriage (26 yrs, 1 month) there was a day when I was so angry at my husband as he left for work one morning, that I just fumed and seethed for hours. Somehow the thought came to me that I should “strike back” with kindness. So I began with vengeance in mind. I prepared his favorite dinner, I did his laundry and put it away, I made a special dessert… as I did these things for him, I thought about why we were married and who he was, and my anger not only dissolved, but began to seem silly. By the time he came home, I was eager to see his reaction to the services I had performed and happy to see him. Seeing my own turn-around caused HIM to apologize for the argument that morning, because it gave him pause to “see the big picture”. So now, my marriage advice is always to “strike back with kindness” – it might be the hardest thing to do, but it brings about the best results!

  • Nina Baker

    Loved it! After almost 29 years of marriage, I can tell you that your perspective is right on. I beg to differ on one point though….Cleveland sports fans are the experts on embracing the losing culture!!

  • Sara

    “It’s finding ways to be humble and open, even when everything in you says that you’re right and they are wrong.”

    this is what I struggle with remembering. I always think that when I’m “right” its the right thing to do to be the winner, but the relationship is more important than winning.

  • Steve Zollinger

    Wonderful insight. A friend once told me that the happiness man in the world is married to the happiest woman. I’ve tried to live by that counsel by doing all I can to make my wife happy. And you know what? It works. After 33+ years of marriage and seven children, I could not be more happy. And to your point Doctor, I guess that I agree with you in an associated, yet oppostie way. I try to make my wife a winner, which at times, must include being a loser.

  • Sharon

    Wow. That was beautifully written and really touched my heart. There are a lot of things I could have done differently 7 years ago to prevent my divorce– had I been a “loser” and had you as a therapist! But it does take 2 in order to make things work, and I’m not sure that my ex-husband would have been a “loser” and helped make it work. I have not remarried…but this does give me a lot to think about should I decide to try it again! :)

  • Atticus Cage

    Naturally I resent the loser-ness of the friend who forwarded this article to my attention, mostly because he knew I’d have to take a minute to chime in. (What a loser! ;-))

    Anyway, I’d like to suggest that there is an incredibly important distinction to be made between two macro motivational categories related to the article: (1) the strength of pursuing Goodness and (2) the weak sauce of being walked on by bullies and imps.

    The actions and repercussions generated by those motivated by each of the two categories might often look very similar to the casual observer (or to the fool), BUT the “loser-ness” manifested by the former rightly attracts those of us who’ve come to venerate and pursue virtue (or virtuous/beautiful/dutiful courses of action or reaction). And, for the most part, it does so quite salubriously without causing us resentment, pity parties, or the feeling that we need to be embarrassed or emasculated for steering as constantly as possible toward Goodness.

    Meanwhile the loser-ness that comes from the latter motivation leaves little to meaningfully admire, or count on, in the way of a wise and Good moral compass if you will. In fact, I would argue that there is something sickeningly lacking and even wrong about it, whether in a marriage, company, sports team, etc.

    When Master Flanagan (the author’s son) clapped for the “winning” team it reminded me of the hearty handshakes and glowing smiles which the more dignified “losers” — the few — offer their putative opponents on American Idol types of contests these days. At least in my family’s home, home life, parenting, and marriage, such dignified, and dare I say virtuous, loser-ness is, as much as possible, noted, lauded, imitated, and perpetuated (but only motivated in us by the first category — and by Him who we as practicing orthodox Christians hold as The Author of Goodness). Obviously more could be said.

    Thanks for article.

  • linda

    May we all be the biggest losers out there!
    Mom

  • Linda Harding

    For 43 years we have played the” Happiness Game” where we each try to make the other, the happiest! And for 43 years, 8 children and 18 grandchildren, we have been happy. Of course, happiness comes from loving and serving and caring and sharing–Or, by your definition, Losing–but it doesn’t really matter what you call it–it matters how you feel! Thanks for sharing your incite!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Enjoying so much everyone’s stories of enduring and joyful marriages. And also, feeling grateful for the additional layers of challenging thoughts that people have added. Thank you!

      • Mary

        Completely moved and affected. Thank you for your heart and intellect poured into your article. You have created a desire in me to be the biggest loser ;). Thank you Thank you Thank you.
        You are certainly gifted in your writing. And what a gift you have received in your son! I will hold his story close as well.
        Pressing on. Driven by your words.

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  • Karl A Hamilton

    Great to read such wisdom – my first marriage failed in the opinion of a judge in the highest court in our country – according to the top forensic shrink – because I was too nice to my x wife – this comment is not intended to sound like a boasting thing but to say that she was so badly hurt and abused as a child – that she was unfamiliar with someone loving her – so she was constantly freaking out and suspicious of me -

  • Confused-loser

    So first of all I have to say my husband and I read this article the whole way through and not until I read the reviews did it really sink in what your take was on marriage. I thought at first, you were saying that marriage was for losers! I’m glad I read it all and took the time to figure out the true meaning because it is all soooo true! I am the result of grandparents who taught this concept very well and have 20+ married grand children who are all happy “losers” (winning in marriage). They had 4 children who are “losers” and one of them is my dad who taught me and my 4 married siblings by example how to pick a fair “losers”. My spouse is the best kind of “loser” who teaches me to be even better.
    It all goes to show that when one couple really gets this concept down, and teaches their children, the effects are profound!!
    Once I understood your view, I have really enjoyed contemplating it all. That is intact what I have been taught and I am testimony it brings profound happiness!

  • Julie

    I’m not married but I’d like to be. I have a very loving and gracious boyfriend.I realize if we are ever going to be married, this has to start now. Thank you very much for these words.

  • Janice Ackroyd

    I love your sentiment, since I am 43 years into the third kind of marriage you describe. I must say, however, that I would label my marriage differently. I am not a loser, and I believe, neither is my husband. It is not losing to choose to give, listen, understand, and serve, even when you want some of that yourself. It is, or has been in my marriage, the best way for both of us to not only give, listen, understand and serve, but to receive, be listened to, be understood and served. This is not losing, but more like taking turns giving and receiving. In the process we have experienced a level of joy not seen in the superficial relationships portrayed in the media that forms our culture. I know you are trying to encourage people to sacrifice more and give more, because that is the way to find happiness in marriage, but you seem to have missed the point – which is that by mutually sacrificing, you both receive more than you ever thought possible.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Beautifully said, Janice. I think you are summing up another thread throughout the comments, in response to the label “loser,” which doesn’t seem to capture the beauty and sacrifice of enduring, joyful marriages. I’m always so encouraged to hear stories in which mutual sacrifice has become a way of life. I’m glad that we can speak different “languages” and intend to mean the same thing. That kind of shared experience is comforting.

  • wilmacaro

    What a great eye-opener! I want to be a loser if so…;)

  • Donna

    Is it more important to be right or to be kind? In losing we win. In losing ourselves in service we find ourselves. Great thoughts in this article, and I think I will make sure all of our children, married or not, read this if possible. It doesn’t just apply to marriage, but to all relationships. Be happy for the successes of others. Marriages, or friendships, should not be competitions. When you care more for another person’t happiness than your own you will find that you are truly happy.

  • Michele I.

    it’s good to know that someone else feels the same way I do, even though I defined it as being giving instead of losing(I’m not saying that it’s a bad choice of words, just that I thought of a different way to describe it). Thanks for the blog post, I’m glad I read it.

  • Jaclyn

    Really appreciate this and its application both to marriage and to other relationships. Thank you-

  • Lisa

    So, I have noticed that there does seem to be an undermining sense of competition in most things around us in our current world. As I inspect this tendency in the institution of marriage, I have to think that there is a cultural or climate change that has happened over the last 50-60 years.

    So, what was the catalyst for this great role shift? What happened 50-60 years ago in our society to begin this change?

    I have wondered if the need for women to begin going to work during World War II has changed the role expectations for our generation(s.) Woman as the provider immediately introduces a competition that wasn’t previously seen.
    Because the roles were so separate and defined, each relied on the other to fill their part. As those roles have become more mixed, the expectations do, too. Perhaps one of the solutions to the frustration of competition can be in embracing that original role differentiation and, thereby, being able to appreciate the differences instead of competing for the top spot.

    As I have recognized this in my marriage over the last year or so and tried to make some changes to better fit the role of wife and mother, my husband has seemed so much more satisfied in his role and loving and appreciative of me in mine. I have actually been surprised at how much happier we both have become.

    I guess this letting go of trying to take over his role may be the “losing” to which Dr. Kelly is referring, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything (except maybe the stress of trying to fill two roles!) I only feel like we’ve gained…a new appreciation for the sacrifice and work of the other, a new dignity, and a new marriage!

  • Gene Tilby

    What a wonderful way with words. I really appreciate this article, so many times it seems that good marriages fall apart because one or the other person just gives up. Marriage is definitely not easy and I know that my wife and I have had our fair share of fights and disagreements but we have somehow worked our way through them. And while, over the years we have seen many marriages fail around us I can honestly say I love my wife more and better than I did when we were younger. She is not perfect, and I am much less than perfect, but as long as we both keep moving forward, helping each other through the hard times, forgiving each other when we need to, and sticking together we will make it. And what a wonderful thing that is, our kids certainly appreciate it and I know that their kids will appreciate having parents that stay together as a family too. Thank you for the article.

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  • Jaimi

    My in-laws prefer to call it “rotating bliss”.

  • cheekywedding

    It is weird to see it in this light, but I think I agree. My fiance and I are 2 very opinionated and strong people, and there definitely isn’t one dominating person in our relationship. It was hard for me in the begining because I am used to ‘winning’. But after 6 years together, I realized that it’s not about winning if you want to make a relationship work. We take turns giving in to each other, so we are both losers, but in the end we win because we are still together and getting married in 2 months.

  • michell88

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. My husband is so good at losing. I do okay, but need to improve. I’ve started losing a little more lately and our marriage has been better than it ever has. Thank you for such poignant words that inspired me to try a little bit harder.

  • Chess

    My parents’ marriage is the second. I hope someday for the third. Thank you for writing this. It’s beautiful.

  • misterandmissusjohnson

    Thank you for this post–I am inspired to be better!

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  • Wisdomforlife

    Great advice! Thank you.

  • theJoygal

    Reblogged this on realmamareallife.

  • Tom

    Luke 9:24 actionized!

  • Alisha

    Wow. It’s tough, but I hope it’s a reality in my marriage. What tears of joy you must have shed when your son’s teacher told you about his graciousness.

  • Michael

    Great advice, but not easy to implement. I have found the framework provided in “The Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute to be very helpful in implementing these ideas.

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  • shirleyelizabeth

    My husband and I are all about winning. I’ve never considered our relationship to be “losing.” In a sport or a game or my education I give all of myself in order to win. I lose if I don’t do so. It is the same with my marriage. We win as we give more of ourselves, our time, our forgiveness, our love.

  • Julie

    I get what you’re saying and I agree…..but I, like others here, don’t prefer the term “loosing marriage”. Our marriage is one of our greatest blessings. We have been married for 11 years and best friends for 15+ and we have 6 kids ages 10 – 16 months. A wonderful blessing for us is we have never fought….EVER! And I am so grateful for that! And it’s not because one of us “looses”, it’s because we communicate, we listen, we love, we share, WE ARE ONE! Thank you for your article. I do think it is great …a winning one!

  • My Name is Jacy

    My 5 year marriage ended due to some pretty intense/horrific circumstances (husbands dual life of sex addiction, $20 K in secret credit cards for pornography, infidelity with strangers, lies, etc) when I had NO CLUE anything was wrong.

    Since discovering that 2 years ago, I think I may have slightly lost sight of what a true marriage is, because after being burned so terribly I’m now looking for a perfect man. Truth is, there is no perfect man out there… he doesn’t exist… which is why I loved this:

    “But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all—themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other”

    I’m hoping to find an HONEST man (well, I’m dating one now actually) so that someday I can participate in a healthy relationship of service, sacrifice and love.

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I think it is such a realistic approach to a healthy relationship.

  • Kate

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. In my own moments of grumbling and prideful impatience, I too will picture your cute little boy clapping for the winning team, he himself the true winner. I truly love this image!

  • oneredthread

    Reblogged this on 1RedThread and commented:
    A must read.

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  • Ivy

    Thank you for this…such a good reminder and inspiration..I will do my best to have a 3rd kind of marriage..:-) God bless you more!!!

  • Kendra Durham

    I am humbled by reading this. I want to say thank you for writing this, and sharing it. God bless.

  • Rachael

    I. Love. This. Post. Edifying indeed.

  • Tricia

    There are days I feel that I am the only one in our marriage who is “losing”. I am sure that my husband feels that way as well. We both are sticking to it, both hoping to find that peace and love somewhere down the road. God, it’s hard doing so without losing what I knew to be “me”. Maybe that’s the key? Not looking for “me”, but looking for “us”?

  • Jonathan D. Sherman, LMFT

    I am a marriage and family therapist and agree whole-heartedly with what you have written. We clearly approach marital therapy the same way. The third type of marriage you describe is the work my couples and I work towards achieving. That is what makes couples therapy energizing vs. draining. Thanks for your good work and this wonderful article.

  • lin

    So right somthimg I wish I knew years ago

  • Tod

    Great article, well said –
    three kinds of people, some live a self centered life, some live a war with everybody but themselves, and others learn the harmony to love each other, without taking account!

    I can say I have only seen about a handful of marriages that I would follow as a true example in my lifetime! but when you see it you know it is worth the wait for the right choice!

    TD

  • Ruby

    “The second kind of marriage is ripe with winning and losing, but the roles are set, and the loser is always the same spouse. These are the truly abusive marriages, the ones in which one spouse dominates, the other submits, and in the process, both husband and wife are stripped of their dignity. These are the marriages of addicts and enablers, tyrants and slaves, and they may be the saddest marriages of all”

    Having left my husband, “the winner” a few months ago, I constantly worry that I did the right thing. We have a small child together who would have undoubtedly been affected by the verbal abuse and stress going on in the home and was already starting to see signs he was afraid of his dad. Should you stay with someone like that, who constantly has to win and be right, whose friends are more important than family, and thinks cheating is “no big deal”?

    • Pirate Ces

      I applaud you for leaving your husband. I really think that you made the right decision. I personally think that cheating is such a big deal that it is one of the main reasons for divorce in this country. A lot of people who aren’t in a healthy relationship might see it as ok but I see it as one person not caring for the other the way they should. Ruling by fear is no rule at all it just pure sadness for the people who are being subdued.

    • Annie N.

      Cheating is a big deal and I left my husband for cheating on me as well. Luckily we didn’t have kids together. I was the loser in the marriage and he truly didn’t care as he continued to see the other woman even when I told him that it was hurting me. You can’t stay in situations where you are being abused emotionally because in the end it’s your life and you have to be happy. Now that we are divorced, I think we are both winners – he won and can be with the woman that makes him happy and I won because I can get the respect and love I deserve from a man that makes me happy.

      • Albert

        First of all, I’m so sorry that any of you had to deal with a man that was acting badly towards you and your commitment to him. No one should have to deal with that.

        But can I ask a question?

        I know I will probably get flamed here and be told I’m putting the blame on something/someone else, but I want you to be aware that I believe this is all a matter of the man being selfish and not caring what his wife thought or did. So please understand that as I continue… please.

        I’m just wondering, in all the situations what accountability was the man getting?
        Did his family know he was doing this?
        What about his friends?
        Did he care at all who knew?
        How long were they acting badly before you said anything?
        How long after you found out did you stay with him before you left?

        The reason I ask is most men, if allowed to act badly, will do whatever they can get away with. Would you agree?

        I believe that men need accountability, structure and to be shown that there are lines in the sand, so to speak, of where they are able to tread.

        If they are not confronted about their actions harshly (embarrassment is a harsh awaking for most men), they will continue acting badly.

        Men will the limits every time if allowed.

        This is why so many wives can be heard saying, “I feel like his mother!” Because they are having to tell them to do things around the house and the like.

        Most wives will tend to be enablers of bad behavior by thinking that the reason the man is doing these things is because she is doing something wrong.

        So instead of pulling the slack out of him, they try to make themselves better. Lose weight, a new hair do, better clothes, act nicer, have more sex, or anything that they think will get him to like them more.

        The issue, in most cases though, is that he is getting away with it because he isn’t being held accountable for his actions.

        Would you say this was your situation?

        I know that your situations are all different but it seems in the friends marriages that I have seen fall apart all fit into what I described above.

        The man does something badly. The wife tries to make herself better. No one is aware that anything is happening and it looks like the perfect marriage. Then all of a sudden it’s over and they are getting divorced because there was cheating. But then we find out it’s been going on for a while, and the wife knew, or vise versa. But regardless, it’s over. And one or both people are not willing or able to reconcile because “the love” is no longer there.

        Please, let me know what you think. And I am truly sorry it didn’t work out for you.

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  • Julie Baun

    Reblogged this on Real Life. Truthfully. and commented:
    I love this in a “I wish I had written this” sort of way. Thank you for sharing this amazing perspective on marriage. Here’s to losers everywhere who are winning the war on marriage.

  • Heather

    This is beautifully written. I’ve experienced relationships like the 1st & 2nd type you talk about. I am now in a marriage like the 3rd type and am so much happier 100% of the time.

  • Athanasia

    Am a new reader/subscriber/commenter of your blog

    Three years of personal and marital counseling and I can honestly say we have the “third” kind of marriage. We metaphorically ride our separate motorcycles down the road of life choosing to join the other in side road trips. Going on 28 years of being married.

  • Heather

    Completely and 100% what I needed to hear this morning. THank you.

  • Cecille

    Dr. Flanagan,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I saw your article, and read it the way I would drink water in one gulp after being dehydrated for weeks. It was God sent sign to me. I am at the point in my 10 year of mutually verbally and psychologically abusive marriage that I gave up. He won’t divorce me (not because he loves me of course), and I can’t demand divorce as I don’t have a job now. I found the temporary solution though to maintain my sanity – I don’t interact with him – period. For ten years I’ve been trying to transition into the 3rd type of marriage, but I can’t do it without his help. He won’t make a single step towards it. He ALWAYS thinks that he is right, I am wrong, and repeats his favorite phrase all the time: “I haven’t done anything wrong to you, it’s all your fault, you caused it, you started it, you were like this before I met you, you love to be in rage, etc.” He has anger management issues, but refuses to acknowledge it. He is 47 years old but is not mature even a bit. I do believe that for our only child divorce is the best thing but it’s impossible in our situation. I don’t know what to do!

    • Amy

      Cecille,
      I was in a situation like yours for 22 years. My husband had a similar attitude as yours. I tried for the entire 22 years to figure out what the problem was, but it was not until over 20 years that the answers came. My ex is a narcissist, and nothing I could do would ever change that.
      A book that helped immensely was Foolproofing Your Life by Jan Silvious. It is very practical and helps you to recognize the fool in your life and if that person has the potential to change. it will also help you to know what you can do. you

      • Amy

        (just trying to finish my reply)
        The book is based on Proverbs and is very Biblically sound. I believe in the help this book provides so much that I have given out over 30 copies in the last 2 years and have just bought more to continue doing the same. I hope you are able to find the best solution for you and your child. My 3 children are much healthier than they were during the marriage, and they actually have better relationships with their dad now, too.

  • Lacey

    Brilliant! Many people view marriage as such a complex system…You managed to conceptualize marriage is such a simplistic way. This is definitely an idea that I will share with my clients – and especially in my own marriage.

  • Another Karen

    Wonderful post–I’m going to pass this along. Thanks for this good encouragement.

  • storymeg

    Reblogged this on storymeg and commented:
    May I attain to the dignity of a loser.

  • gail ruopp

    Been in a bad marriage and a good one. People in bad marriages need you. I visited a counselor once – told me to run and don’t look back. Left everything – he probably saved my life.

    However, people in good marriages don’t need counselors so your sampling may be a bit skewed.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Gail. I wouldn’t want to leave the impression that people in “Type 3″ marriages don’t ever need the help of a counselor, though. I’ve worked with numerous couples who have very strong marriages but are stuck in a particular area of the relationship, or have developed some bad habits and patterns over time. While it’s true that those therapies don’t typically last as long, I think they can end up being very beneficial!

  • Dennis Mast

    There is an excellant life changeing book on this topic-“Bounderies in Marriage” by Dr Cloud and Dr Townsend

  • Amy

    Dr. Flanagan,

    I cannot thank you enough for this beautifully written article. I am just divorcing after 10 years of marriage in a highly toxic marriage. I was in #2…however I was the winner…I realize that I have a lot of work to do. I haven’t heard of this philosophy before and am truly grateful to have stumbled upon it now. I am going to bring this to my next couple and my own individual therapy session(s) to discuss how to work on loosing. I can see how my in-ability to loose has impacted not only my marriage, but my young children too. Ouch, this self reflection is a necessary pain.

  • Shawn Jon

    My wife is controlling and manipulative and frustrating as can be. I love her.

    I don’t know how to be heard unless I yell.

    Marriage type 2 is not the way to be. I wish I understood this earlier- and I wish there was more power to the person in a type 2 marriage to cope better without having to stoop to manipulation and controlling and anger in order to simply not be trampled to death emotionally.

    My wife wonders why I have depression and emotional pain. She thinks it is the only root of our problems. I wasn’t that way before we were married and I was trampled on emotionally and verbally.

    sigh. I need to learn more about all this so we can improve. It’s high-time we did.
    I feel like a failure of a husband for having stooped to her level at times and making our marriage from bad (level2) to worse (level 1). and then back….

  • Penny

    My husband and I have happily been losers for 27 years. Great post.

  • Patti in WA

    I have read this several times, sent it to friends, printed it out and handed it to people I know and posted the link. The wisdom of using the drive to succeed as a drive to surrender, serve and care is just beautiful! I have had 2 type 2 marriages with the first ending in divorce after 20+ years and the second made me a widow. I want a type 3 marriage, in fact I will settle for nothing less.

    I just earned a Master’s degree in Communications and we teach conflict management, but no where do we address preemptive measures such as this article addresses. Itmade me smile, shout and say “Yes!” this counter-culture paradigm is what is needed in marriages to help us detox from a world that puts selfish self-promotion to the top of importance when in a marriage, it is putting the other first that matters most.

    I am thinking of putting together a community course in conflict management and I would LOVE to include this article as a citation and resource. Relationships are the best thing going on in life, if we know what to do.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Patti, I’m so glad this resonated with you the way that it did! By all means, use the article as you wish.

  • Christina

    Amazing

  • Tarun

    Wonderful article! I think everybody can relate to this to some context or the other.

    I firmly believe that no one should die so that others can live. But everyone should live in a way that influences others to be Alive.

    Therefore my title of Type 3 would be ‘Marriage for Winners’ – the type in which you don’t lose to your partners needs, but you win over your needs and align them to your partners.

    I believe marriages are more often successful not be sacrificing yourself but by accepting partners the way they are. One should not try to be good but try to be right all the time. We can’t be good for long as guilt will sink in for things you don’t agree. By being right you will surely have a clear conscience and will influence your partner to be one.

    We often mentor our peers, friends for their betterment. How often do we give an ear or have a heart to heart conversation with our partners about their betterment in life. This should not be an ‘appraisal’ but about the importance and value partner brings in your life. You shouldn’t expect your partner to be the same when you met first but you can surely be a reason for them to be better individuals that have played a very important role in the growth of the relationship.

    Life is very simple, our unrealistic needs/ wants complicate it.

  • tess

    Forgive me, but I do not recognize my own dysfunctional marriage as either type 1 or type 2, and certainly not as a functional type 3. Are there other permutations in your theory?

    • drkellyflanagan

      Tess, As is often the case when we try to condense reality into a few simple categories (or a few simple steps to the good life, for instance), something gets lost. I actually think it’s more important that you’re thinking deeply about your marriage and assessing it, rather simply trying to fit it into one of these categories. I hope the article spurs you on to think more deeply about your marriage and to get advice from someone you trust.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you! I especially appreciated the parallels you drew to “real life.” It is easy to see marriage as being larger than life – something magical that is played with different rules. But who we are is what our marriage looks like. The story about your son is amazing. He must be learning by example. Thank you for the encouragement! I’ve passed this on to all my married friends (and some single ones too).

  • Alison Satterwhite

    Wow. You are a literal God-send today as I try to sort through my many convoluded feelings about my marital situation. This is the answer. I am convinced that I can do more to love with this perfect kind of love you discuss….otherwise known as charity….the pure love of Christ. Thank you.

    • theJoygal

      HI Alison,

      Please feel free to check out my blog at http://www.realmamareallife.com where I talk about a type 2 marriage, how to recognize them, what to do about them and how to get yourself healthy – the only thing you can control. Blessings, the Joy gal

  • Tom

    I don’t think everyone should assume that their marriage fits into one of these categories exactly. Just a good “outline”, with all kinds of variables, including mental illness, addictions, immaturity, upbringing with bad modeling,etc.. All bring to marriage with bits and pieces of bad behavior or judgement. The key: be the best spouse I personally can be with all the prayerful attitudes and wisdom sought!

  • rafaelsugiyama

    I’m from Brazil and this is the first time I visit your website. I just loved it and will surely be back soon.
    These were extremely good words and I hope I can be a loser more often.
    Thank you!

  • Karen J.

    Thanks for a very insightful article! I am a 9 year survivor of brain cancer and over the last year have been battling breast cancer. Even before the cancer diagnosis my husband and I had a really ‘loser’ type of marriage but the health issues and resultant financial stresses have had the benefit of causing us to be even more open to each others needs. We’ve come up with the ‘servant contest’ to see which of us can serve the other most. I guess that is sort of the idea behind ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first.’ Anyway, this is a very well written piece and spells out what I’ve felt/ thought but didn’t have the words to express. Thank you, again.

  • Alyssa

    Thank you so much for this article! I wish you could understand how grateful I am for it! My parents are just recently divorced; they had many problems and transitioned from type 2 to type 3 marriage often, especially towards the end of their marriage. It was honestly so painful to be home most days, that I was so relieved to leave home and go to college. Their problems hurt my siblings and I a lot, and I was so scared to enter into relationships, because I was afraid of becoming like my parents. Thankfully with help from my counselor I was able to move past some of those problems and am now soon to be married! My fiance is truly a “loser” and is so selfless and I try hard to be like him. This article gives me hope that my marriage will be a happy one, if I work hard at “losing”. Thank you!

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  • Hello, Insanity

    Reblogged this on helloinsanity.

  • cherrie1st

    This is the greatest article I’ve ever read on marraige. I wished I had seen something like this before I got married the first time. It would have saved a heartache or three and I probably would have kept on looking instead of jumping at the first one that asked. Thanks for your insight, it’s much appreciated!

  • Linda

    Compassion… living and loving with compassion is key!
    I disagree with the ‘loser’ mentality since it holds a negative connotation. No one needs to sacrifice… another negatively charged word in western culture. I prefer to think of it as ‘one for all and all for one; since when we join in marriage we ideally become one. I do believe that focusing on winning and competition in marriage is detrimental. Living in the present, complimenting one another, communicating honestly, clearly, without drama and acceptance (the good the bad and the ugly) your partner and supporting them to be the best that they can be produces the most positive, loving environment. In this place you are much more capable of trusting one another and working through the difficulties that arise as well as enhances the upswings. Negative judgment and negative criticism kills a person’s spirit AND your partners too.

    One can be an individual AND a partner in marriage! We need LOVE and are better people when we receive it in respect and trust.

  • carl Strickli

    I would love to win the competition of inspirational literature. However, I must concede that in all of my thoughts and analogies on the subject of marriage, that it’s the very thing you may tend to believe, that your partner, appreciates about you, may be the very thing that creates the distance between you.
    You’ve earned the priveledge of offering guidance to a scepticle, proud and very stubborn man. You taught…I learned…WE WIN. I also will practice teaching

  • Roxanne

    I understand the point of the metaphor, but it doesn’t sit well with me. Why must it be competition? Why must there be winners and losers? Maybe it is a masculine metaphor like sports, which I also don’t really get.

    My husband is wonderful at dropping his positions and returning our relationship to a state of love, more skilled than I. But we both value our relationship over being right, and act as such. Eventually. When we remember our priority. *smile* Still, I never feel that I am the loser when I step back to put love first. No, we didn’t do things my way, but we often do things a better way. I don’t think either one of us feels as if we’ve “lost.”

    In short, I feel as if we’re living what you’re talking about, but describing it very differently.

  • Allyson McQuinn

    It takes a noble and gracious heart to not only turn the other cheek out of righteousness in favour of that little thing called LOVE. Great article and praise to you for raising such an inspiring son.

  • M Medearis

    I wish you would re post this to remind all working people to also sacrifice competition in favor of people. I have seen good deserving individuals being stepped on unjustly so that they can climb the corporate ladder. It is disheartening.

  • M. Sutton

    Good stuff!

  • Melissa

    I love this post. There is only one thing that kind of bugs me about it. losing. You see I go through life with the what is the best for whomever I am with be it friend family or foe. I never think in terms of what is best for me. So when I met my husband it felt good to be treated with respect and communicated with. But him always giving in bugged me until we fought about it. I told him do not just give in to the things I say tell me what you think. Now we have better than a losing marriage. Losing is not losing if you gain love trust respect. If winning a fight hurts the one you love its not winning it is actually losing. Please straighten people out that come to you. To win is to lose and to lose is to win when you are in a loving healthy relationship.

  • Tim

    I too am a Marriage Family Therapist, and I rather enjoy doing couples therapy. And, perhaps I am unusual, I never thought so, but I seldom feel like I “lose control” of the session. But this frame you have set-up to view the world as a contest between “winners and losers” is so shallow, so one dimensional. I would agree that a lot of people do look at the world this way. When they come into my office, I see one of my tasks to help them to view their life, and measure the worth of their existence, through many different lenses then simply that of “winner or loser.” That is the problem with the world, that is the two choices they are usually given, and both are usually both unsatisfying to the soul, that is why they are in my office. And to do such a disservice to a couple to inform them that the only way to make their marriage work is for them to start thinking of themselves as both losers in their mutual power struggle, well, It’s like in that description you are “killing their spirit,” removing permission for their spirit to soar. I have found if one has not experienced, and does not understand unconditional love, does not mean they cannot learn it, and come to experience it. You are advocating by adopting the loser label that your “wife will never really come to love you and never really come to love you unconditionally. In this statement I believe you are reveling you have created this framework of winners and losers to justify your own marital state. But, I believe even you can break yourself free from that easy “peace” you have created. There is no need for a power struggle. We can just refuse to play the game of winners and losers in life. We can chose, for example to engage people in Love, and more acceptance, regardless of the game they play. I find this much more freeing. Other’s may chose to move through life looking for opportunities to be an angel in other’s lives, to help them in the tasks they are engaged in, they find great fun and satisfaction in this. Other’s may spend the day looking for those who have been beaten down in the game of Winners and Losers and spend their time in picking up the losers and showing them another way of living. We can simply refuse to play the game. Open your perspective.

    • Linda

      Thank you for posting a more positive, balanced view of how counseling should be approached. I find too much negativity connoted to ‘winners vs. losers’. Rarely is any situation between couples a clear right or wrong as there are many shades of gray in between that arise in daily living activities.

      Your approach is one that will be more easily embraced by couples in marriage counseling. It’s also about how to nurture trust and respect within your partner, but that can’t be done until the individual begins to set themselves on the best path. Within your approach I can see you explore this for the individual as well as the couple involved. This holistic approach also creates a more accepting environment which makes it less threatening to practice self-honesty and hosesty between the couple. Well done!

      • Tom

        I don’t think the article was written in the light of “winners or losers”, it was written to each individual spouse to “lose” their own “rights” for the benefit of the other. It is based on the principal that Christ taught “whoever will lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” Mk8:35. Of course ideally when we realize my body is my wife’s and visa versa as Paul taught in 1Cor 7:3,4., it makes a beautiful relationship. But all to often, only one of the partners buys into this, thus, they have a marriage #2. The article was just and encouragement for both partners to follow this teaching.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Tim and Linda, Thank you for adding another perspective to the conversation. I’m glad the post was thought-provoking for you!

  • David R

    My favorite therapy clients are married couples! Even if “Many therapists aren’t crazy about doing marital therapy – I love marriage therapy! Refreshing to see DrKellyFlanagan getting it right! I found your article shared on Facebook by someone who said “What an incredible article! This guy is brilliant, but he is also an amazing writer. I feel inspired.” And I agree.

    I often start therapy by finding out which spouse wants therapy (usually the one on the phone with me to schedule the appointment) and asking them “If you want your spouse to attend therapy and stay engaged long enough to save your marriage, what are the arguments you can plan in advance to lose during the first few sessions?”

    Couples who can’t choose their marriage above being right really turn out to be the bigest losers – and bring tragedy down upon their own heads and (sadly) upon the heads of their children and their community.

    Sacrificing your pride is a strategic loss – which is the same as to say an investment in the long-term win.

  • James

    Why you gotta go and make a grown man cry with that gym class story?

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  • Sue

    Thank you for such an insightful article and a reminder that our marriage is in fact on the right track after nearly 16 years.

  • kaylene

    Wow. Such great words. As I took a minute to read this I’m struggling through the pain of my husbands addiction and abuse finally winning and tearing us apart. I’ve only ever wanted to be a “loser”. There is no way to introduce that concept into a marriage involving abuse and addiction. But I can and will stand and silently applaud him lovingly as he departs as my final tribute to the love we once shared. Thanks for the insight. My goal: teach my children to be “losers”! Thank you

  • Joanne Bartlett Gear

    enlightening for sure. loved reading this.

  • Barry

    Best piece I have ever read! This applies even if you are in a relationship, not to mention in a marriage. To hell, this applies even in life. The ability to take a step back and applaud the ‘winners’ in life makes things easier. I’m from Singapore by the way!

    • Barry

      Any reply from drkelly? With regards to me comments? Any insights?

    • drkellyflanagan

      Barry, thank you for your comment and for reading all the way from Singapore. I’ve noticed that this post has received a substantial readership in Singapore, and I marvel at the connected world we live in. So grateful.

  • lynn phua

    Great articles for useful considerations in life journey. Yes, very practical

    advice on the various types of audiences who respond to different needs.

  • Terry

    Great article! This reminds me of a verb in the Bible.

    “He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it” Ephesians 5:29

  • rachwrites

    Reblogged this on Rachel writes… and commented:
    Just had to re-blog this excellent article on marriage. I’m still trying to fathom what all marriage entails, and this is a great reminder of how I should strive to serve my future spouse.

  • Naomi

    I’m eighteen, I’ve lived my whole life in a family that was basically the third. I don’t remember my parents ever fighting, as in if they had fights it was intentionally done when us kids weren’t around.

    I want to have a healthy marraige like that. One in which I both have to be confident enough in myself and my spouse to swallow my pride, and one that I don’t have to allways be perfect, cause I’m not. No one is.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • dennis duPont

    this is a great truth for life, in many aspects as well as marriage….

  • hopeful

    I understand what folks are saying about the label, ‘loser,’ but I think it gets to the point really quickly. Those of us who tend to be proud, competitive, and defensive are probably the ones most bothered by the idea of losing. The nobility of sacrifice, service, and generosity would enable us to quite readily identify in those traits in our behavior. Thinking about losing, getting the short end of the stick so one’s spouse can have the long one – that is much less comfortable to some of us and lays things bare pretty easily.

    My husband is a recovering addict, and because of his hard work in his program (and some of my own work with boundaries and other things), I finally have hope that our marriage might one day be that third kind. After 15 years of a lopsided, dishonest, dysfunctional relationship, there is a lot of building to be done, but we’re both here to do the work. We are present to the relationship in a way we never were before, and we have much different expectations, too.

    I agree with those who have already commented on the quality of your writing: a pleasure to read not only your ideas but also your prose.

    I think you’re wise to not respond to every comment. It would run you ragged! When I was teaching my children how to ride a bicycle, it struck me that balance is not a noun – something to be acquired and kept, but a verb – constantly making small adjustments in response to what’s happening. Good luck, and thank you!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thank you for your affirmation and your wisdom. I cherish both.

  • Aaron

    Such a great article. I like to think of marriage as a fight to the death. Not with each other but together. I explain it better in my own blog but the essence is a picture of the couple back to back fighting against the things that are trying to destroy the marriage.

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  • MrsG

    My husband and I have only been married 7 months but we bounce between the first and second types of marriage. Recently we made the commitment to make a change to better our marriage and family. I can’t wait to share this with him!

  • Mallory

    I just came across your blog today when a friend of mine posted a link on her facebook. LOVED your entire post. Truly inspiring to read. I am *hopefully* going to graduate school this fall to start my journey to become a marriage and family therapist. This bolstered my drive to obtain higher education. Thank you!

  • raeyraeyftw

    Reblogged this on MY LIFE IS A FRICKIN' SITCOM..

  • Shon

    I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me. Or why don’t I crucify myself for your sake. Great article. Thanks!

  • lainey

    Gosh – what a great article. Thank you for debunking the myth that healthy marriages mean no fighting – it just means you’re more committed to loving than you are to winning. I hope I can someday have the peace in losing that your son so beautifully displayed!

  • drewpan

    That’s a great article to start the day with!

  • Honeybee80

    I wanted to thank you for this article. I am recently engaged and reading this was a wonderful reaffirmation of what we are striving for as a couple. I have waited for the right partner to come my way and deeply desire to be the right partner for him too. I’m so excited to be a loser in marriage.

  • judy’s foodgasm

    Looks like you have heard it before but thank you for this article. i am grateful to have a friend who shared it with me today…a day when i really needed to hear these thoughts.

  • Ms. Mia

    Reblogged this on Mamma Mia and commented:
    Follow my blog with Bloglovin

    I don’t come across too many things about relationships that I agree with, but this was Very interesting. And for the most part, I agree with it. I can see where If both individuals are trying win at “losing” for the sake of the other that it can make for a better marriage/relationship. I’m a firm believer that Both people have to want to make things work in order for a relationship to last – and Both have to be willing to compromise. One person can’t have it all – all the time! I would say that Ben and I are between the last two types. I think we trade off on who loses the most. It’s hard because Ben is Not use to the idea of Losing. He definitely has a Win at All Cost mentality. I guess that the job of the counselor would be to help someone like him accept the idea that it’s Ok to Lose. I have always been the self-less one. That is how opposite we are. There are time when I have no clue how we work together… But I think it’s because we truly love one another and Both try that keeps us together. I will definitely be keeping this in mind when I am getting frustrated with Ben …. which will probably be some time today. Lol.

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  • Bong

    I have only been married for 3 yrs but I feel our marriage has abit of all at different times. I dunno who I can express myself so but seeing replies, I hope to have some advice.
    First and foremost, I never knew how marrying a non-Christian would affect my life so much since I wasn’t a regular church goer but I strongly believe in my faith, coz I dated non Christian guys who were more Christian like compared to guys who are Christians and behave like they don’t have God at all.
    I learnt that in a marriage, to sustain, we both need to have common goals, something I feel my marriage lacks. And due to certain events that took place, I feel like I lost my love for my husband. All I have left is duties of a wife and a mother to one. I have contemplated separation coz I felt it was only fair to my husband coz it really seems like a one-sided r/s to me but I love my son alot, I love my home. But I just don’t and am not happy to stay with a man I know I don’t love now. I can’t say much for the future coz he is a good man and father, everyone has mentioned so. I seem like the dominant spouse coz of my character but I’ve been in love before, so I know I don’t love him enough to feel I’m in love now. I really dont know which route I should be taking at all.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Bong, I’m not able to provide professional advice through this medium, but I do want to encourage you that if you aren’t satisfied with your relationship, don’t settle. There are excellent resources included in the comments on this post, including the excellent book recently recommended by wildivy, “Codependent No More.”

      • bong

        I glanced through most of the replies and many seem positive. I just feel like such a jack-ass coz it’s not that my husband is a jerk or some addict. In fact he takes pretty good care of our son and he is visibly in love with me but I just feel that there’s something missing from our marriage which I feel so strongly about that that I don’t wish to live like that for the rest of my life, or live like my parents, which seems like non-existent here coz they led separate lives during most of my childhood as far as I can remember and divorced when I was 11, neither do I want to delude myself that things will get better with time then 10 years later realize that it’s not going to work and end up in a divorce anyway. I do agree that communication is essential and the root of all break downs; this is what I learned in my high school days playing team sports. Sometimes it’s to the extent that I don’t even want to save my marriage by going for counselling sessions even. Am I like the worse sorts of wife? I felt like I changed so much since the events that happened during our marriage even I am surprised at how indifferent I can be so someone I live with everyday cause I just don’t feel for him anymore. The 3rd kind of marriage applies to us because I’ve come to a point where I don’t wish to bother too much anymore; live and let live. By closing one or both eyes, I will feel happier than a naggy wife or some helicopter mum. This differs me a lot of my partner coz he bothers a lot and I just wonder why he can’t just close one or both eyes like me too. Thanks for your response Dr Kelly. Cause this seemed like a suitable platform.

    • Tan Dawei
  • Carolyn

    Awesome post. This will be required reading for my clients!

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  • Cheryl

    My 22-year-old daughter actually recommended this article to me. When I read it, I knew that I had to follow your blog. My husband and I have gone through the first and second type of marriage and are working on the third kind. I know this, but the way you phrased the fact that one needs to just listen to their spouse and let them “win” even though you know you’re right was perfect. I also agree with you about how as a society, we are so bend on winning all the time…so true how that effects our attitude.

    I just started a blog that at first look appears to be a fashion blog, which it is, but I want to add depth and substance to it, so I do give a personal perspective on the journey our shoes take us one. Anyway, I would be honored if you would checked out my blog and leave me any suggestions or words of wisdom. Thank you!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Cheryl, I enjoyed your blog! I love the diversity of your interests, everything from shoes to animals to life. Keep writing and sharing!

  • Mapenzi

    This is a mind jogging piece. Very educative and entertaining.

  • Patty Roth

    Thanks Kelly. Very nice article–great perspective. I may share with some couples I work with out in CA.

  • Morgan

    Wonderful article. I think it applies to all relationships! Thanks for this!!

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  • TxBoltMan

    Great article! Shared it with my wife; whom I am currently having major communications issues with. Everything I say, do, think seems to be wrong, mean, or just crazy. I really pray for the third type of marriage, but fear I’m in the second. I’ve been married almost 11 years, gone through the death of my mother, the birth of three kids, building a house from scratch, being laid off and unemployed for six months, and now my dad living with us (for about a year). Just don’t know what to do anymore.

  • Judith

    What a great read! I recommend a book I’m reading right now: ‘The power of a praying wife’ (also ‘The power of a praying husband’) by Stormie Omartian!
    Especially when you’re trying to get from the second to the third type of marriage and your spouse doesn’t seem to change or help your relationship get better.
    Of course a great book for every married couple! It’s very powerful and revolutionary and it helps you to sit back and let God do the work!

  • Yvonne Collette

    “In fact, the destruction is so complete that research tells us it is better for children to have divorced parents than warring parents.

    If only that were true. Usually the warring parents CONTINUE to war well after the marriage is dissoved, and the CODs (children of divorce) take FULL advantage of the situation. (shameless self promotion alert: see my downloadable book “The Guilty Parent Trap” on Amazon.com)

    • drkellyflanagan

      This is a no-shame zone, so no worries about the self-promotion. :) Love the title, will definitely check it out. And thanks for the reminder that couples don’t escape the demands of communicating well when they divorce. In fact, it is even more important then!

  • Chloe’s Mom

    I simply love this! Advice that can apply to any scenario! I’ll remember the contents of this the next time I feel “entitled.”

  • willknitforbeer

    I came across this via a Facebook post and based on the title I was prepared to hate it. I am so glad I read it. Very insightful and well written. Thanks!

  • rob

    I say there’s a fourth type – the spouse who chooses to lose most frequently while the other spouse stays married to her children, totally ignoring or forgetting who she married before children.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Rob, I have a friend who wants to write a book, entitled, “Men Love Women, Women Love Children, and Children Love Themselves.” It sounds like you can relate. I truly hope you both seek the help you need. Best to you.

      • Michael O.

        This is probably a paraphrase of an Alice Thomas Ellis quotation – “There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, and children love hamsters.”

        Also, it seems that “Sacrificial” rather than “Losing” would be a better term – as you say, our society is TOO obsessed with winning and losing, and getting out of that paradigm into a different one would be healthier for our marriages if not more.

  • jacobbaugher

    Reblogged this on Jacob H Baugher IV.

  • Anna

    I believe in unconditional love. I’m surrounded by it everyday. Its something my parents have had since forever.

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  • lauren

    i agree with what you wrote here.
    thank you for sharing :)

  • alienredqueen

    I see what you are driving at in “both being” losers, but I think even that can be taken too far. Self sacrifice, compromise, and forgiveness are great, necessary, phenomenal. But to if both parties always “lose,” than no one really wins.

    You said “It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving. It is seeking peace by accepting the healthy but crazy-making things about your partner because, you remember, those were the things you fell in love with in the first place. ”
    The first idea is sort of contradictory to the second, if you follow it through. How can you give up things you love to make someone else happy without losing who you were that made them love you in the first place, and breed contempt to boot.

    I think your theory is sound, but like any theory, there have to be practical, workable ways to put it into practice. But, yes, graciousness and sacrifice and GOOD LISTENING would seem the best and logical place to start.

    Cheers!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Great thoughts, thank you! Interestingly, marital research shows that it is specifically the things that first attracted us to our spouse that eventually begin to cause conflict. This may be due to the fact that we are attracted to traits that complement who we are, which challenges us and grows us initially. But as we settle in to daily living, we revert to our strengths, and now those new and different things we liked about our spouse begin to feel like problems. Maybe there’s a post in that? :)

      • alienredqueen

        I can see where there could be some truth to that… We have more tolerance for idiosyncrasies when we are in the initial “crush” stage of our relationships. But in a way, doesn’t that sound kind of crappy? Like we all basically want a partner just like us. ~shakes head~

        • drkellyflanagan

          ~shakes his head with you~ :) Over time, many of us do default to wanting a partner who mirrors us. So, one of the things I do in marital therapy is help spouses to recall and tell their relationship story in such a way that they can embrace the things about their partner that they first fell in love with but that now drive them crazy. By accepting this, spouses can begin to resume the personal growth they underwent in the early relationship, rather than simply asking their partner to change. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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  • steph

    you are describing the different types of marriages between two people who aren’t compatible.

  • Kellie Jo

    After reading through the posts to this powerful article, (thank you dr. flanagan) I am encouraged to see that marriage is still worth fighting for by so many. Marriage is hard work and particularily hard to “lose” at. My parents, who just celebrated their 40th anniversary this weekend, have instilled in me a saying that applies to all of life and directly to marriage, “a job is not worth doing, unless you do it RIGHT.” While we have only been married 13 years, we work incrediblly hard to do our marriage RIGHT. Take the low road, humble yourself, put your spouse first, and LOSE all the time is so rewarding. I venture to say that those who disagree have not really given it a real go. Commit to fight for your marriage by losing every time. Wives, submit to your husbands, and husband love your wives. One does not go without the other! Ideally, submission is loving and loving is losing!! Happy Losing to you all!!

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  • Joe Smith

    this is one of the best articles ihv come across. keep 4 the good work1

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  • JulieBeth

    Great article! There is one more kind of marriage you didn’t mention. It is the kind where one spouse is willing to sacrifice his or her own desires in order to make the marriage work with someone who doesn’t really care. That person is not being a martyr, enabler, or abusive, but has chosen to stay in the marriage, make the most of it, not leave the spouse they promised to marry forever, and continually pray he or she will change. It is not so common these days, people who honor the commitment they made even though it is hard and one sided. As long as the other person is not abusive, even if they are selfish and don’t really care, one spouse can keep it together and find joy in life.

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  • A.Y.Sande

    Hey Dr. Flanagan,

    I wish my ex-girlfriend and I had read this 2 months back…we’d still be walking towards the aisle.

    ‘Losing’ applies both to marriage and relationships headed there.

    I have wisdom for the future.

    A.Y.Sande

  • kibfais

    Excellent read :

    Source : http://daruliftaa.net/General-Islamic/sparklove.html

    Keeping the spark of love alive in a relationship
    Written by Mawlana Faraz Ibn Adam
    Friday, 18 November 2011 16:30

    As the days come to closer to one’s marriage, excitement, ecstasy and elation pump through the bride and groom. The build up to marriage is an experience of thrill and jubilation. When the marriage is solemnised, one’s happiness and delight is on the verge of brimming and tipping over. When the newlywed couple meet for the first time, words cannot describe the sweetness of the bliss, serenity, pleasure and elation tasted by the two.

    If every day of the marriage can mirror the first day of marriage, and every night reflect the first night of marriage, then the marriage will be a euphoric experience on this world.

    The gentleness, passion, love, tenderness displayed on the first day and night of the marriage should be portrayed throughout one’s life.

    The first couple of months are always a ‘honeymoon’. Once the couple settle down, then reality begins. Many couples fail at this point. The husband gets engrossed in his job. He comes home tired and late, feeling hungry and tired. He demands for the food and feels lazy to do anything. He eats, puts the dirty plates in the sink and lies down on the sofa. He might awaken to perform salāh if he is conscious of salāh. Otherwise, he wakes up later on towards the night, phones a few friends, watches TV and keeps ordering the wife to get him x and y. When it is time to sleep, the husband if he is feeling in a good mood he will have relations with his wife-but only to satisfy his needs. Once he is fulfilled, he stops and drops off to sleep. Whether the wife is satisfied or not does not even cross his mind. This becomes the routine of his life.

    The wife on the other hand, she initially tries to please her husband. She slowly loses her enthusiasm as she does not receive enough attention from her husband. She cooks to please her husband. She will put effort into her food. She will try and perfect every detail in the food. The presentation, ingredients and spices are put meticulously so they complement each other. After a while she begins to tire from this as the husband does not comment or he criticises her food. As soon as the husband goes to work, she is on the phone to her associates. She cooks, watches TV, cleans the house and enjoys her day before her husband comes home. Once the husband comes, she becomes a slave again.

    This style of marriage where there is no affection shown, no real emotion transmitted from one party to the other is heading towards destruction.

    The husband needs to implement the romance the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam displayed. We consider Romeo to be romantic but not the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam. If I was to say the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam was the most romantic individual, I would not be lying. Looking attentively to the biography of the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam, you will find that he was extending a great deal of respect to his wives and was displaying high attention, care and love toward them.

    He was the best example for the ideal manners toward the wife. He was comforting for his wives, wiping their tears, respecting their emotions, hearing their words, caring for their complaints, alleviating their sadness, going in picnics with them, racing with them, bearing their abandonment, discussing matters with them, keeping their dignity, supporting them in emergencies, declaring his love to them and was very happy with such love.

    The husband and wife have to bond with one another psychologically, physically and spiritually. Here are some attractive examples and points we need to adopt to achieve a marriage of romance:

    1. Know their feelings

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam was telling Sayyidah Aisha radiallahu anha : “I know well when you are pleased or angry with me. Aisha replied: How you know that? He said: When you are pleased with me you swear by saying “By the God of Mohammad” but when you are angry you swear by saying “By the God of Ibrahim”. She said: You are right, I don’t mention your name.”[i]

    The husband and wife should be aware of each other’s feelings. The husband should be able to gauge when his wife is upset or sad, likewise the wife should be able to read her husband’s behaviour. By being conscious of one another’s feelings, it will help in resolving any differences. When your spouse is down or upset, be there to console him/her. Sit with them, speak with them, listen to them. Try and make them smile. If the husband is always conscious of his wife’s feelings, and the wife is always conscious of the husband’s feelings, then this will assist greatly in keeping the ‘flicker’ alight.

    2. Console her

    Sayyidah Safiyah radiallahu anha was on a journey with the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam. She was late so the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam received her while she was crying. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam wiped her tears with his own hands and tried his utmost to calm her down. [ii]

    This is another feature a marriage must have. Each spouse has to be there for the other in the good and bad times. The wife should find comfort and solace in the husband and the husband should find warmth and love in his wife. Be gentle with one another.

    3. Laying in the wife’s lap

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would recline in the lap of our beloved mother Sayyidah Aisha radaillahu anha even in the state when she would be menstruating. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would recite the Qur῾ān whilst reclining in his wife’s lap.[iii]

    How many times have we rested in the lap of our spouse? These gestures may seem trivial but they are the acts which bring the hearts close. The wife can sense and see the love of her husband for her in such actions. Every so often come home and just go and rest in the lap of your wife. She will appreciate this gesture greatly.

    4. Combing the spouse’s hair:

    Aisha radiallahu anha would comb the hair of the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam and wash his hair.

    This is how close a couple has to be. Love evolves and grows to such an extent that a spouse yearns to do everything for the other spouse even if it simply combing their hair. To maintain a high intensity of love, do the little things for your spouse also. Little acts have a huge psychological impact on the mind of the spouse. Seldom comb their hair, take their clothes out to wear, bring them a cold drink on a hot day, prepare something for them etc.

    5. Drinking and eating from one place:

    Aisha radiallahu anha would drink from a cup. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would take this cup and search for the place where the lips of his beloved wife made contact. Upon finding the place where his wife drank from the cup, he would put his lips on the very same place so that his lips have touched the place where her lips touched. He would then drink the contents of the cup at the same time enjoying with his spouse. When there was meat to eat, Sayyidah Aisha radiallahu anha would take a bite. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would take the meat from her hand and again place his mouth the very same place where his wife ate from. This would add taste of love to his food.[iv]

    Do things together with your wife. Do not just eat at the same time and on the same tablecloth, but eat from the same plate. Let alone the same plate, eat together from the same article of food. This will bond the hearts so close to one another. When everything your wife comes into contact with becomes more beloved to you than food itself, imagine the flame of love in your lives?

    6. Kissing: –

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would kiss his wife regularly. Even when he salallahu alaihi wasallam would be fasting, he would kiss his wife.[v]

    Compliment your spouse often with kisses. When exiting the house, make it habit you leave by coming into contact with your spouse. When returning home, along with saying salām to her, show that you have missed her dearly.

    When she is working or busy in her household chores, surprise her with a kiss. You have to show your love. Love is the fuel of marriage; if you desire your marriage to progress, you have to express your love in every way you can.

    Physical relations in a marriage are very important. The famous saying is, “actions speak louder than words.” Show your spouse you love her. Sharī῾ah promotes romance and physical relations between the husband and wife. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam categorically stated,

    “Conjugal relations with your wife is a sadaqah.”[vi]

    7. Lifting the morsel to her mouth

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam said : If you spend an amount you will be rewarded for it, -even when you lift the morsel to your wife’s mouth.” [vii]

    The husband and wife should make these gentle gestures to exhibit their love and appreciation. Feed your spouse with your own hands now and then. This will rekindle the flame of love in your marriage.

    8. Assisting her in the housework:

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would clean and help at home. He would see to his needs himself rather than demanding his wife. He would clean and see to his clothing himself.

    Without being asked, if the couple help each other in day to day activities, it will make one appreciate the other. Likewise, one should try his best not to demand his/her spouse to do things too much. Whatever one can do himself, he should do. We need to be considerate of the spouse. The wife works tirelessly all day. So if the husband was to be considerate and realise his wife works hard, this will touch the wife. Likewise, if the wife was to go out of her way to see to the needs of her husband being considerate, it will induce a great spark of love between the two.

    9. Telling her stories

    Discuss stories and events with your spouse. Engage in light hearted discussions with her-something to laugh and joke over. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam on many occasions would discuss stories, events and have light hearted discussions. The famous story narrated by Sayyidah Aisha radiallahu anha regarding Umm Zar’ is evident.

    This is one angle which is neglected more so than often. It is all ‘business’ between the husband and wife. They do not get into light hearted conversations. Instead, the husband rings his friends and chuckles with them. The wife on the other hand giggles during the day with her friends. This should not be the case. Focus and divert all your amusement and entertainment at your spouse. If you want to laugh, then let it be that you are laughing with your wife.

    Make it a point in your busy schedule daily where you sit with your wife and do nothing but have fun with her.

    10. Sharing happy occasions with her:

    Once when the Ethiopians were practicing target shooting in the masjid complex, the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam stood with his wife watching. Not only did the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam stand with his wife, he put his cloak around her. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam although he had other jobs to do, he stayed there standing with his wife. He only went when his wife wanted to go.[viii]

    A husband should be one who shares happy occasions and experiences with his wife. When it is raining, cold or sunny, one should shelter his wife.

    You should be willing to sacrifice your errands to spend time with your wife. When the spouse sees sacrifice for her sake, it will create immense love and respect in their heart.

    11. Racing with his wife

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would exercise and play with his wife also. The famous incident of the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam challenging his wife to race is well known.

    When a couple can have such good times together, it only ignites the love even more.

    12. Calling her by a beautiful name:

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would call his wife ‘Humairā’’ out of love. Linguistically it means the little reddish one, but the scholars state that in reality it refers to someone who is so fair that due to the sun they get a reddish tan. This was the reason why the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam called her Humairaa’.[ix]

    Call your spouse nice sweet names. One has to show his partner love and affection in every little thing. One needs to feed love constantly to his spouse to keep the flame burning.

    Once the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam stared into his wife’s eyes. He was gazing at the world within his wife’s eyes. He then said to Sayyidah Aisha radiallahu anha in praise of her beauty,

    “How white are your eyes.”[x]

    This is what is needed. The husband and wife should be constantly complementing and praising each other. The husband has to show his love and attraction to his wife. The wife needs to show her infatuation for her husband. When there is a reciprocal relationship, the marriage climbs heights.

    13. Dress for your spouse

    Sayyiduna Ibn Abbās radiallahu anhu said: “As my wife adorns herself for me, I adorn myself for her. I do not want to take all of my rights from her so that she will not take all of her rights from me because Allah, the Exalted, stated the following: “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them.” (Qur῾ān 2 :228.)[xi]

    This is another area where many spouses fail. The wife only dresses when it is a special occasion. The husband on the hand stays scruffy and does not take care to be neat and tidy. If the couple want their everyday to be a special occasion like their wedding day, they must dress to impress!

    The wife should wear the clothing which pleases her husband. Likewise, the husband should wear what the wife likes. Every time the husband and wife glance at each other, the glance should arouse them and stir up more love for their spouse. This will ignite the love in the heart.

    14. Utilising perfume:

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam would have a container for perfume. He would use perfume constantly.[xii] One should make an effort to smell good for his wife all the time. Looking good, keeping clean, smelling nice compliments a relationship exceptionally. Make sure you hair is tidy, your clothes are neat and you smell pleasant. This will attract your spouse always and inject affection into the marriage.

    15. Do not talk about her private matters:

    The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam described the one who discloses his wife’s affairs to others as amongst the worst of people.[xiii]

    Whatever occurs between yourself and your spouse should remain between you two. How unmanly and shameful is it when a husband discusses his wife to his friends? The secrets and issues of the spouse must not be narrated at all to anyone. Do not talk about your wife to others. Your wife is for you. You are for your wife. Your fidelity and loyalty should always be to your spouse.

    16. Loving & respecting their families

    Another great factor to contribute to a healthy relationship is to love and cherish the family of your spouse. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam was once asked whom he loved the most. He replied, “Aisha.” When the questioner rephrased his question and asked from amongst the men, he replied, “Her father.”

    The Prophet could have easily said Abu Bakr. His answer displays such intelligence and ingenuity, that in one response he displayed his devotion to his wife and her family. He exhibited his fondness for his in-laws. Imagine how happy his wife Sayyidah Aisha would have become upon hearing this response?

    Compliment your in laws in front of your wife. Compliment your wife to her family. Your wife will really appreciate this.

    Never underestimate the importance of seemingly little things as putting food in your wife’s mouth, opening the car’s door for her, etc.

    Try to always find some time for both of you to pray together. Strengthening the bond between you and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the best guarantee that your own marital bond would always remain strong. Having peace with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala will always result in having more peace at home.

    With regards to your second query about the China Islamic Association, the Darul Iftaa is not in a position to comment as we have no correspondence with the organisation in reference.

    Mawlana Faraz Ibn Adam

    • Adu`

      well written! excellent advice and yes, romantic!

      • kibfais

        Thanks !!!

  • Tom

    Excellent article!!!! I must say, though: after searching high and low for an alternative solution, we finally decide to dust off those old marriage principles found in the Bible, apply them to our lives (with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and losing, mind you), and discover with joy that they genuinely do work; and they supply a satisfaction that just can’t be attained through “winning”.

  • Joe

    I want to say thank you for the reminder. I grew up in a household that both parents refused to lose a disagreement, and all I saw was hatred for each other. Even though sometimes my stubborn upbringing and Italian temper sidetracks me sometimes, she understands me, and lets me win even though she might have a different opinion. I do realize it, and I know I need to a better job of “losing” myself. Sometimes hearing it from someone else, serves as a reminder to me. I do try, but maybe I need to try harder.

    It makes me realize that I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive and understanding partner in life. Good article — and thank you.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Joe, I’m always so encouraged by “the winners” who want to be better losers. Thanks for your honesty! Go be grateful for that wife of yours!

  • Anthony

    Very well written and informative article. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I’ve been only in the first two (relationships and marriage-wise). And I am sad to admit I am usually the one striving to win and be right. :-/

    • drkellyflanagan

      Anthony, Ditto what I said to Joe. Keep working at it. Awareness of our competitiveness is a huge first step toward sacrificing it!

  • Adu`

    Thank you for helping me grow just a little more today. I am most grateful when life’s lessons are brought with ease and grace.

  • yboris

    Reblogged this on YBoris.

  • GFE

    Fantastic post. Thanks for helping me to think more clearly about my actions/reactions towards my spouse and filling me with determination to be a bigger and better loser in my (already fantastic) marriage!

    • Jacque Small (@jacquebig)

      May you be the best loser ever. :-)

  • kiyance

    This is a very good read with practical things that can be put into place. Very timely for my recently married husband and I! Thank you!

  • Persio David López Loyo

    You may wanna check The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy (and Kathy) Keller.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll add it to the “stack.” :)

  • Savannah Boggs

    I read this article to my husband and the first thing he said was “Have they been spying on us?!?”

    We stumbled upon this kind of marriage together and have even counseled friends and family with similar advice.

    I love this article, it eloquently illustrates our life and love so very well.

    We are trying for our first baby and I can only hope that we raise a child that claps for the victors!

    • drkellyflanagan

      Savannah, blessings upon you and your family as it grows!

    • Jacque Small (@jacquebig)

      Contgrats on being such great losers —- or is that really winners because you have such a deeply loving relationship and you both get to learn and grow in your relationship.

  • Lindiwe

    I really needed to read this article this morning to help me put down all my amo and just forgive and try to fix what i can by stoping the fight in my heart. Thank u. Im in tears….

  • Enji Gund

    I wrote this piece of note about my husband in 2009, we were just boyfriend and girlfriend then. Above article insipres me to share this here.

    “The greatest love of all…
    by Enji Gund on Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 12:20

    I guess, by now everybody is wondering what had happened to me and to all of my notes. Also, perhaps what had happened in my life so major that took so much of my time now that I did not have enough time to come online anymore.

    Well, as some of you already guessed, I fell in love… Yet again… :) But this is the kind of love that mends all the broken pieces of my heart together (not necessarily broken by a guy), the kind of love that makes me forget about myself and everything that has led me up to this moment… This love heals, this love creates and this love grows…

    When you meet this kind of love, you want to throw everything and devote yourself to the object of your love… When this love happens to you, you see everything clearly, for instance why you did not feel happy before, why you broke up with the other guy… I feel happy for everything that had happened in my life now. I am so glad that I am an ex-girlfriend to those guys, rather than current… Because, if things were otherwise, I would have never met my one true love… SO THEREFORE I GIVE THANKS TO ALL OF MY EX-BOYFRIENDS, FOR LETTING ME GO!!!

    It is different in every way… You do not worry from the start, not even anxious about him liking you, the anticipation over his choices, the sleepless nights trying to figure out what happens next… Because you already know deep inside that everything is meant to be… So, I knew, I literally saw my future with him. I felt loved, respected and treasured like never before, I felt like a queen… I still do…

    Another thing I learnt is that, if things were meant to be, it won’t take much time… As for us, we met in August 2008, started dating by the end of August, started living together from December and not a year later in July 2009 we were engaged and expecting a sweet addition to our small but happy family, due February 2010…

    I give thanks all the time for all the beautiful and wondrous presents life has given me! I give thanks to my significant other for the person he is! I give thanks to all the circumstances that have been so kind. I give thanks to both of our families who support us all the time. I give thanks to my destiny for making me fortunate enough to know such beautiful love! And last, but certainly not least, I give thanks to you for taking time to read this and I hope you had the chance to encounter such love in your lives and if you haven’t yet, have faith and you shall see!!! Bless!!!”

    Cheers.

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  • Ashley Buck

    My 14 year marriage finally fell over in Jan 2011. It was a classic example of some of both type 1 and type 2 marriages but mainly type 2. Interesting though how type 3 never was even on the radar? I am now in another relationship where we operate the type 3 approach to the relationship and it works so much better. My moto is “accept and respect”… do these 2 things with your other half and the relationship takes on a whole new dimension I find. We all need to be accepted and respected for who we are as individuals. Do this, and when you come together as a couple it is so so much easier to make it work. Thanks for your blog read some more of it and subscribed to it now as find it all very interesting and very useful.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Ashley, so glad you are finding a relationship with mutual sacrifice, and so happy to have you join us on the blog!

  • neighbourhoodnerd

    Easily the greatest article about marriage ever written.

    I have found myself losing on purpose in my marriage lately. Now I know why it feels so fun!

  • Pailee

    It’s very wise what you wrote. A pity I never realized it earlier, my life would probably go different path. I am now finishing my divorce and in a different relationship. This time I will remember to be a looser. ;) Thank you once more.

  • Manuel

    Like in the movie “Lucky You”, a father and son relationship, where someone says “instead of Loosing/Winning, in a family it should be more like Giving/Receiving”

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm125996288/tt0338216

  • 19562004

    Very true. If you want to live, first you have to go to your own funeral. Bury the crap there, say goodbye to that, and start living again.

  • Marito alla Parmigiana

    It is an awesome post but I would make a slight change: it is not the will to lose in a race to give the best to the other in my opinion. It is much more about losing (and this is a wonderful loss) the obsession to win. This is the whole point of the marriage! It is like chess: to achieve the best result you sacrifice sometimes your pieces. To achieve love, self awareness, even dreams, you learn to give up on things it is not worth fighting for.
    In a marriage we become mature understanding what is really the goal we want to achieve and leaving aside useless arguments.
    I do not really feel like my marriage is going well cause I act like a loser, it is more like I am not obsessed for winning and I choose much more wisely what to fight for.

  • Jenson

    Great post. Nay. Superb.

    It’s refreshing to see someone acknowledge just how important humility is in a marriage.

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  • susinto

    i think that if after reading this, u insists of your partner to read this, this means that u have to lose a lot more, rather than your partner

  • Andrew S

    This is brilliant, and I’ve never read it anywhere. Thank you!

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  • Rainier

    I could not ask for more on your book Dr. kelly! You have been annointed in digesting the marriage chemistry, should I say.I have been through M1 to M3 with the thing in mind and heart that marriage is created by the Heavenly Father, and we are now 30 years growing stronger. Marriage is a lifetime commitment thats goes with the ups and downs. Understanding your partner is one the best element. Complementing one another is an excellent partnering activity. I agree with some that insisting your partner to read this— means your yourself need to read a lot more than your partner. In my experience, giving up to the other is a noble task, but there is a need to subtly let the other side know why you are doing it, or, it will always be a loser’s to one side. Bonding a successful marriage is not one loser’s job only, but a joint cooperation, commitment of both. The rule is — whatever happens, at the end of the storm the two remains a marriage couple. In the eyes of God, the two are now one! I really really lived in that belief. The readings i got is a confirmation that marriage is heavenly made!!! Congratulations!!!

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  • Carol

    Beautiful! I love this! I have shared it with my ex-employers, Drs. John and Julie Gottman.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Carol, thank you. I deeply admire the Gottmans and cited them throughout my dissertation. Thanks for sharing it with them!

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  • Susanna Barlow

    Thank you so much for articulating this much overlooked issue in marriages. I have been married for 19 years and the first 8 years were spent in punishing each other with silence and pain. Now, we have both learned to be the change that we wanted to see in the marriage. Thanks for your wise words to the world.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Susanna, Thanks for sharing! And so glad your marriage founds its way into mutual sacrifice!

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  • Dawn

    I don’t think that all marriages fall neatly into these three categories. Mine doesn’t.

    I think there is an even more ideal type of marriage than the 3rd kind, as another commenter alluded to. This is a partnership that does not focus on winning or losing, but rather, what is good for both people together. Each issue of conflict is considered separately and a decision is made together based on both people’s thoughts on the issue and who actually cares more about the issue. Unity, rather than equality or unconditional sacrifice, is the guiding principle. Neither person fears “losing” more than the other one, because the two people in such a marriage act as one and “winning” decisions are always made–for the couple.

    • Rainier

      Dawn, I fully agree with you! On the other hand, just like management, the principles are all the same but it all depends on what dimension one is using to bring home the point: biblical or the human understanding of universal relationship.Unity and complementation are one of the best words to describe a successful marriage— no loser, all winners! Unity in the sense that two are made into 1, complementing in the sense that each each has its own shortcomings, uniqueness… God bless married people!

  • Jacque Small (@jacquebig)

    I love this discussion. I have come across a 3 stage relationship model and a 4 stage relationship model. The four stage model addresses your point Dawn. The relationship is held as a sacred container to support each partner to grow and develop in the relationship. To support each other, celebrate and be passionate.
    I recently wrote a blog post about this kind of relationship. http://yourdivinedivorce.com/2012/05/rich-luscious-deep-relationships-yummy/
    Hope this gives you some ideas how to enhance your relationship even further.

    • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Jacque!

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  • Stephen Cahaya

    This article really inspires me. Is it okay if I translate this article and post it on my Youth Group Website? Thank you in advance…

    • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

      Hi Stephen, Thanks for your interest in the article! Please feel free to translate it and post it in its entirety, and thanks for asking. Generally I recommend posting excerpts and linking back to the original article, but of course translation is different. Thanks for doing the extra work for your young people!

      • Stephen Cahaya

        Yes, thank you very much… I am really touched by your article, that’s why, I think I have to share this article to my friends at my church. Especially because people in developing countries such as ours really live in a fast track, trying to win everything, because we are so afraid to be left behind. And by moving forward like this, I believe we have lost the trace of what matters the most in this life.
        Please keep up the good work!!! :)

  • The Old Wolf

    Phenomenal article, addressing the fundamental human addiction to being right. Thank you for this insightful piece, which I am sharing widely.

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  • Thomas

    I don’t understand this article, at all. My wife and I have been married for 9 months now, only going through our second fight, and it’s huge. But a game of constant sacrifice and “bowing down” seems completely counter-productive. Like you’re constantly appeasing the other so that they don’t get mad for not getting their way.
    Over all, this whole article tells me that in order to have a successful marriage, you have to give up daily, give up everything you once knew, give up friends, give up hobbies and passions, and be trapped.

    I just don’t get it.

    • Albert

      Thomas,

      What do you mean by, “give up everything you once knew, give up friends, give up hobbies and passions,…”

      Why did you get married?

      Is your wife more important to you then everything you once knew?
      Is your wife more important to you then your friends?
      Is your wife more important to you then your hobbies?
      Isn’t your wife your passion? What other passions do you have out there?

      Quite honestly, I read your comment and all I saw was “It’s all about me. Me. ME!”

      Doing things for the person that you married, supposedly because you loved them enough to want to be with them for the rest of your life, shouldn’t feel like being trapped.

      If you feel that way now after 9 months of marriage, you are in for a rude awakening my friend.

      You are right, you don’t get it. And I bet, with this attitude you won’t be getting much of anything after a while, if you know what I mean.

      With this type of selfish, self centered, ‘only me’ attitude that you presented here in this comment, I bet your wife will start to resenting you and maybe even divorce you quicker than you can blink.

      Now, with all that said…

      I’m guessing that you really do love your wife.
      I’m guessing that you want to please her and make her happy.
      I’m guessing that you enjoy having sex with her and want her to be pleasured as well.
      I’m guessing that you are not as self centered as your comment sounded so I’m going to say this,

      Spend some time in self reflection and ask yourself what is really important in life.

      Where does your wife fit into that picture?
      Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? Is your wife with you then? Is she happy?

      If not, then re-read this article and try to understand that you and your wife are now as ONE. That means that her goals are there just as yours are. But sometimes, your goals might have to be put on hold until something she is striving for is met. And the next time she will have to wait for your goal to be met.

      You are no longer single. You are married and you need to be concerned with what your wife wants as well. And I’m sorry to say this, but it might mean giving up something that you are passionate about or a hobby and quite possibly a friend or two if it means you have the right amount of time to spend with your wife to keep her and you happy.

      This marriage is your new hobby. This marriage is your new passion. This marriage is to your best friend. And if you can understand that, you will not care if you have lost everything you once knew. Because what you have now found is so much greater then all the things in your past that you have ever experienced.

      I hope and pray that you understand, I’m wanting the best for you and especially more for your wife, and I hope that this marriage lasts a very long time. In fact, I hope it lasts til death to you part. But it won’t if you have the attitude that your comment expressed.

      Please consider this a nudge to think about what the article really means.

      You’re not trapped when you do for your wife. You’re not trapped when you put her first. You will see, when you do those things, you get so much more in return that you wont miss the friends, or the hobbies, or anything else. I promise.

      My motto is “Happy wife, happy life”, if you can live that, you will have succeeded at marriage. Because when the wife is happy, so is the husband. And she she isn’t happy, neither is the husband.

      Attitude. It’s all about the attitude.

    • Albert

      Thomas,

      Sorry, I meant to say something where you said, “But a game of constant sacrifice and “bowing down” seems completely counter-productive. Like you’re constantly appeasing the other so that they don’t get mad for not getting their way.”

      First of all, it’s not a game. It’s real life. Don’t pretend it’s a game or you will lose for sure.

      Second, You’re view point is all wrong. you’re wanting to take, take, take and are wanting your wife to give, give ,give. But that isn’t how marriage works.

      You need to give to get. You need to love to receive love. You need to do the dishes to eat. You need to pick up the laundry to have it washed. this is a team you are one. It’s you and her against the world. Not you against her and what she is wanting.

      Change your perspective and you will make more sense. Think through the love you have for your wife and how you want her safe, and secure, and happy. And hopefully it will make more sense.

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  • Elaina: PTSD-is-Normal.com

    Having just read through the article and all 309 responses, the first thing I want to say is: Your son was by far the biggest WINNER, that day when he applauded the winning team. How proud you must be of that fine young man!

    My best-friend-husband and I met at work 9 years ago, when I was 50 and he was 54. We were both divorced, and both completely disillusioned and ”done” with romance. Neither of us was interested in ever dating again, let alone remarrying. But I believe that God bought us together when the time was right. My husband was a relatively new Christian, having come to the Lord when he was in his late 40s, and I had recently come back to believing in Christ Jesus, after having been a former-Christian-turned-agnostic for several decades, due to the severe abuse and trauma I had gone through in the past, which shattered my faith.

    When my husband and I were married, by my minister-uncle, in July 2004, I was scared ~ what if it all went horribly wrong, like my previous relationships? But mostly I was very happy and hopeful that I had finally found my true soul mate, a man with whom I had almost everything in common. Most of all, I hoped that we would have a mutually loving and supportive ”type 3” marriage together, which would be a first for both of us.

    The very first day after we were married, my new husband began RAGING at me at the top of his lungs over the most inconsequential, nitpicky things, such as me singing along with the Beatles song “Hey, Jude” that was playing on the Oldies radio station: “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT THE BEATLES WERE DRUGGIES AND GODLESS COMMUNISTS? HOW DARE YOU SING ALONG WITH THEIR SONG?” It was insane, the things that my new husband found to rage at me about, in just the first couple of weeks of our marriage! What had happened to my kind, courteous, thoughtful, sweet, loving Best Friend?

    I left him, and called my aunt and uncle for advice about an annulment. Meanwhile, my new soul mate was filling up the voice mail on my cell phone with screaming raging messages. Of course, he pulled the old “THE BIBLE SAYS THAT A WIFE IS SUPPOSED TO SUBMIT TO HER HUSBAND! WHAT KIND OF A CHRISTIAN ARE YOU IF YOU WON’T SUBMIT?”

    *Sigh*…. my abusive parents, and I am talking about abusive in the extreme, were both Bible-thumping fundamentalists. My very volatile dad (who was arrested when I was 12 for coming so close to murdering my mother that I had thought was dead, and was then put in a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder), was the minister of a small Pentecostal-type nondenominational church. My mother, who to my knowledge has always been too narcissistic, borderline, and/or sociopathic to admit her need for therapy in order to receive any kind of psychiatric diagnosis, was, and still is, a control-freak preacher-wannabe. She was even sicker, in my opinion, than my father. Both of my parents controlled me and my much-younger siblings by forcing us to submit unquestioningly to their horrific abuse, as they used Bible scriptures taken way out of context, about honoring our father and mother, forgiving 70 times 7, and so on.

    THEREFORE, any time any person tries to coerce me or force me to do things their way or worse, tries to make me submit to abuse by beating me over the head with the Bible ~ all that accomplishes is to make me want to Run For The Hills. I was the most submissive child imaginable, which made life very easy…… for my abusers. It took years of therapy and reading self-help books and doing tons of hard healing work for me to learn that No One Has The Right To Abuse Me EVER, regardless of who that person is, or how many Bible Scriptures they spout!

    My reply to my husband, when he laid his misogynistic belief on me that ”a true Christian wife must submit to her husband like the Bible says!” was to stand right up in his face and tell him this:

    “That same Bible also tells husbands to love their wives the way Christ loved the church, enough to lay down his life for her. SO, Mr., here’s the deal: If you aren’t DYING, then I am NOT submitting. Period. I am over 50 years old, and I have survived pure hell on earth in my struggle to get to where I am today. I have a God-given IQ of 156, which I am positive that the Lord Jesus intended for me to use to… GASP…. think for myself. I got along without you before I met you and I know I could get along without you now. But even if I couldn’t survive and support myself, I would far rather live in a cardboard box under a bridge and eat out of garbage cans, than to live for one more day in a comfortable home with plenty to eat and with someone who YELLS at me over every little thing. If the house is on fire and you need to YELL to notify me of that fact in order to save my life, THEN you may yell. Otherwise, unless it is truly a life-or-death emergency, I refuse to live with you and be YELLED at. End Of Discussion.”

    Today, my husband and I have a very loving, happy, peaceful, mutually supportive Type 3 marriage (although I, too, prefer to say that we are both winning, rather than both losing, but I totally get the concept of dying to self-ishness).

    What happened to turn my scary (6’3″, 295 pounds) rageaholic into my gentle, loving, Best-Friend-Husband?

    First, we went to a Christian Marriage Therapist, one who respects women and does not espouse the old ignorant belief that God put us women here for no other reason than to bow down to men, bear their children, submit to his abuse, serve and service him, and call it JUST because Eve enticed Adam with a bite of fruit 6,000 or so years ago.

    Secondly, my husband followed our therapist’s advice and humbled himself by checking into an in-house 8-week PTSD program for combat vets at the Veterans Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. My husband came out of that program a completely renewed man. He says that he is now the husband he would have been, if he had not been sent into combat in Vietnam as a 20-year-old USMC sniper in 1969 and ordered to kill, or be killed.

    We still have our challenges, my husband and I, maybe more than most, because we both have been diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s great that we can understand each other’s “crazies,” since we both have the same thing. But having two disabled people living under the same small roof can be a lot like the blind leading the blind. Luckily, we are rarely both “triggered” at the same time, because his PTSD was caused by combat, and my Complex PTSD was caused by multiple domestic traumas and abuses. We see a trauma therapist together, and that is helping. Some days are harder than others. But overall, I feel very blessed and grateful to be married to my Best-Ever Friend!

    Elaina

    • Albert

      Elaina,
      I’m sorry you or your husband had to go through the situations you did in life. That was not pleasant, I’m sure.

      I want to commend you on standing up to your husband and not giving up so quickly, though I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

      You are an inspiration to many who have had to deal with situations like yours, and even more so to those that haven’t.

      I’m so glad to hear that you and your husband are still together. You have taken your vows to heart. In good times and in bad; in sickness and in health. That is a lot of what is missing in most marriages now-a-days.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Elaina: PTSD-is-Normal.com

        Thank you for your kind words, Albert.

        My husband and I did a lot of laughing today. We can be so silly! As the Proverb says, Laughter does the heart good like a medicine.

        Here’s an example of our wacky sense of humor: you know the popular saying, “That Which Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Stronger.” We say: “That Which Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Grumpier.”

        ;)

      • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

        Albert, I wanted to thank you for your participation in the discussion. The topics you are engaging can be sensitive ones, but it’s clear that you have good intentions. And Elaina, thank you for sharing your story! I love the courage you showed and the way it transformed your marriage. Your thoughts about mutuality in marriage remind me of the writing of Rachel Held Evans (http://rachelheldevans.com). You might enjoy her writing! And, yes, thank you, my son is a pretty cool guy. :)

        • Albert

          Dr. Flanagan,
          No, thank you for posting this article. It’s a breath of fresh air when all we see around us is more support for divorces.

          I was in the mix of a possible divorce back in 2006 and it seemed like there was nothing I could ever do to make it not happen. Well, you know what? There was nothing I could ever do to make it not happen. It was all in God’s hands because what I ended up doing was telling myself that I was going to refuse to leave the house, like she wanted, and to continue just being there. I prayed every night. I did everything like I normally did but with God as my focus.

          I saw God change my wife’s heart. I saw him change mine. It was an amazing experience that I hope I never have to go through ever again.

          So now I am out to make marriage something that people respect and understand better than they ever did before. I want to be able to show people that a marriage can survive adultery if we hold fast to the vows we first made at that alter. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. But as you say in your article, we must be the loser in the marriage. We must die to our own selfish desires and put our spouse and family before ourselves. Once we are able to do that, most of the problems that most couples deal with disappear. We find that when we focus on other people our needs are not as important.

          Anyway, thanks again for your article. I have enjoyed it immensely.

          • Anonymous

            Kiss up.

            • Albert

              Wow, now wasn’t that very intelligent.

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  • spanglishbloger

    Reblogged this on Para siempre and commented:
    It’s exactly what I needed to read :D thank you …Let’s be loosers! – Hablando de cuidar plantitas..un secreto para un matrimonio feliz :D

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  • big brother bingo

    Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own
    but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Thank you

    • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

      I think I was in your position about 8 months ago! :) My blog is hosted by wordpress.com. The interface is very straightforward for a beginner with little technical expertise who wants to focus more on content. And it’s free! I would also recommend the book, “Platform,” by Michael Hyatt. In it, he also recommends wordpress.com as the best blog site for beginners. But there’s a lot of opinions out there, and other comment followers might have other ideas. Anyone?

  • Moringa Tea

    I would rather be divirced than married…my two cents…

    • Albert

      Moringa Tea, That is an interesting comment.

      Why would you rather be divorced than married?

  • Custom Full Color T-Shirts

    I’m not sure why we need marriage as institution. Why we can not have same rights just living togheter?! Less money out of our pockets on the beggining and in case of divorce.

    • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

      This almost looks like spam to me (but not quite), but I’m going to leave it up, because I want everyone to have a voice here at UnTangled, and I know there are many out there who would voice similar sentiments. If other commenters engage the question, please feel free to do so while respecting the value and dignity of everyone involved.

    • Albert

      The way you phrased the question makes it difficult to answer.

      There are some questions what would first need to be answered:

      1) What rights you are meaning should be the same for people that live together?
      2) Who are these people that are ‘living together’?
      – Are they room mates in collage?
      – Are they two gay brothers that love each other very much?
      – Are they a group of several people “living together?
      3) How does this make for less money out of our pockets?
      4) How does this change divorce?

      You start to see what your question is hard to answer.

      But I think I understand where you are coming from so I will do my best to answer it from the perspective of what I think your view point is. Feel free to correct me. forgive me but this will be a long one.

      I’m not sure where you live but I’m going to use the USA for my example.

      Marriage was around long before America was, and long before our western culture as well. So because of that I believe that our government did not define marriage. And the western culture did not define marriage either.

      Rather both government and culture described marriage as something specific. Meaning they looked at this union and noticed that there was, as a rule and by nature, a natural function being provided in those relationships. They noticed that when one man and one woman were brought together they naturally produced the next generation. They were creating something more than just a child, they were creating a society in which this child could flourish. No other relationship can do that. They are lacking in one way or another or require outside intervention to produce the same function as one man and one woman. This family unit becomes the backbone in which civilization is build.

      Therefore, Government and society recognize it as something specific and give benefits and rights so that the children of these unions have the best possible chance to become healthy and productive members of that society. This is why government has a vested interest in this union called marriage; for the children.

      Marriage is not meant to be a shortcut to group insurance rates or tax relief. It’s meant to build families. And because it is about the children, for the most part, the children have the right to be with both their father and mother. I realize this isn’t always the situation, but I also realize that this is because culture has turn families into selfish individuals that are only interested in what is in it for them. They have forgotten what the union was for and decided to make it something less. And in turn this produces many different situations that end up not being the ideal but exceptions. And government has no reason to support an exception when an ideal is so prevalent.

      If marriage was simply defined by society then it could be redefined again and again. And I believe this opens the door to worse issues than people wanting tax breaks or group insurance.

      No, we must first understand that marriage is something. Not something we define it to be. Because of that, any rights linked to it could not and should not be given to couples, groups etc. that are just living with each other.

      The last thing I wanted to address in your comment was about rights.

      You say that we should all have the same rights regardless if we are married or just living together. And to that I say, we do.

      We all have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.
      We all have the right to live with another person and never get married.
      We all have the right to perform a ceremony that lets us proclaim our love for each other in front of family and friends and never have government involved in that union whatsoever.

      Rights in America, at least, are given to individual citizens. Whatever right and restriction is given to you, if you are a citizen, is given to me equally. There are not special rights for groups. The fact that some people don’t like the restrictions of some laws doesn’t matter. They are equal none the less.

      We here speak of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We here people say we should be able to marry that one special person that we love. We should be able to do whatever we want, if this country is truly land of the free.

      But we must understand that there is restrictions in freedom. There are restrictions in liberty. And also restrictions in pursuing happiness. But those restrictions are there so that each individual is able to not have another individual have more rights then themselves. That is what makes us all have equal protection under the law. Without that, we will have no law. All these ‘rights’ you are wanting without the restriction of marriage would not exist.

      I would suggest you think long and hard on what you think should be done. Because if you open up these rights to those that are just living together, then anyone could have them regardless of the type of relationship they have. And I don’t see that as something that would save money or make divorce any less problematic.

      If you suggestion is to instead say we should do away with any rights that are specific to marriage then I would have to ask, why?
      If government provides rights for married couples so encourage stability in that union so children can be given the healthiest environment to be raised in; why not provide them the rights if it advances the nation to grow?

      Anyway, thanks for listening and I hope I answered your questions. I look forward to your responses.

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  • Elaina: PTSD-is-Normal.com

    I am old enough to remember when divorce was almost unheard of, at least in the small midwestern town where I grew up. Think of Mayberry, RFD, that’s the way things were where I grew up. When I was 12, my parents’ marriage ended very violently. I was the only kid in my class at that time whose parents were divorced. There was one other girl whose father had died when she was little, and she was an oddity for that.

    Today, I look back over my family’s life, and I see very clearly the before and the after, the huge difference in the quality of our lives that my parents’ divorce made, like the before and after of a great earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor meltdown, all happening at once

    There were 5 of us children, I am the eldest. Now, my children and my siblings’ children are all grown up, many of them with children of their own. I now have a great-grandchild on the way, the first great-grandchild to be born to my generation in my family. My pregnant granddaughter is not married. Her father, my elder son, never married her mother. My daughter is divorced with two children, and my younger son has never married. For the past 10 years he has lived a constant up and down, on-again-off-again, crazy-making relationship with his live-in “fiancee.”

    One of my sisters has a grown daughter who was born out of wedlock, and now that grown daughter has a little girl also born out of wedlock. Three generations of females who all have the same maiden name. Another sister has 3 children, all of whom were born out of wedlock, each to a differenet father. And on and on and on it goes, from one generation to the next. My own maritial history, I don’t even want to talk about.

    Many times I have wondered how differently my life, my children’s lives, my grandchildren’s lives, and my siblings and nieces and nephews and grand nieces and grand nephews lives might have gone, if only the great instability of divorce had not shattered our idyllic Andy of Mayberry lifestyle, back in 1965.

    Elaina

    PS: I have never written these thoughts before. Thinking them is one thing, seeing them now in black and white: OUCH. God hates divorce because divorce HURTS.

    • Albert

      I agree, divorce hurts.

      I appreciate you taking the time to putting down your family tree as an example to others what can trickle down when divorce is the source.

      Though this is hurtful, it is not the only result possible. Any one of those grandchildren have the opportunity to change this spiral for the better if you teach them to honor and respect their marriage vows when they make them. Showing them how one divorce can effect so much. It might just make the difference.

      Perhaps Mayberry has come and gone, but the life you lived there is alive and well within you. Be sure your children’s children know about all of this and change their minds about what the world sees as “okay”. Be that influence in their lives if their parents are not.

      Having a child out of wedlock is not the end of the world if that child has loving grandparents that hold the parents accountable to raising that child to Godly standards.

      I wish you well.

    • hillsupriversdown

      Well, its a bit oversimplifying the issue, just to say that one divorce caused these effects in the kid’s and and grand-kid’s lives. Every person is responsible for his own life and for his own decisions. You cannot blame anybody else for your own life. Having bad examples makes it harder to cope with it, but yet its no excuse. Hope you will find your way and peace in this matter.

      • Elaina: PTSD-is-Normal.com

        Albert, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree with you completely, and I welcome all precious new lives into our family with love and acceptance, regardless of the circumstances of their births.

        hillsupriversdown, I understand what you are saying about it being an over-simplification “just to say that one divorce caused these effects in the kid’s and and grand-kid’s lives.” In the condensed way I wrote my story, I can see, in hindsight, that I seem to be over-simplifying things.

        The key words in my super-condensed story are these: “my parents’ marriage ended very violently.” My parents’ marriage ended, not just in divorce, but in horrible trauma. The violence in our home set in motion a domino effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, beginning with my severely traumatized mother, and then filtering down to me and my siblings, when our traumatized mother reacted to our father’s violence by trying to gas us all to death. Later, secondary PTSD was passed down to my children and my siblings’ children. Today I am in treatment for the Complex PTSD that was caused by the violence that began in my childhood home. Sadly, I can clearly see the harmful effects that being raised by a mother with severe, untreated PTSD has had on my now-grown children.

        My father was a minister, and our whole family was in church. When the violence in our home occured, it shattered all of our faith. I did not come back to believing in the Lord until I was 50. Most of my siblings and their children and my children, are non-believers.

        So yes, to say that all the multi-generational dysfunction in my family was caused by my parents getting a divorce, is indeed an over-simplificaiton. It would be more accurate to say that the horrifically violent events which caused my parents to divorce, set our family on a very destructive path.

        • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

          Can’t tell you all how much I appreciate the meaningful, yet respectful and thoughtful, conversation here. Honored to be a witness.

        • hillsupriversdown

          I understand now. PTDS is something terrible to cope with. It must have been awfully terrifying for you, and in the light of this, I see what you meant. But don’t loose heart here. You know exactly what have happened, you see the consequences and you also see where it went wrong, so you have a tremendous tool in your hand.

          See, I am divorced, run away from a violent marriage myself. But at that time, I was so much lost in my own pain, that I could not think with a clear head. So take this terrible experience as a tool, use it to turn lives into the better, even just by sharing your story with others. You never know, who will need to hear exactly your words to realize something, or to change something in his life. If your kids are non-believers, be patient with them . God will wait for them too :) I am sure that you will have strength and love to turn this into something better. Your words show that you are a strong person. Keep on this road, please.

          • Elaina: PTSD-is-Normal.com

            Thank you for your reply, hillsupriversdown. I’m so sorry that you have experienced a violent marriage also. My heart goes out to you. I went through the same thing, left my chaotic childhood home for a marriage that turned violent within the first 2 months. I now know I was reliving all the wrong things I had learned in my childhood, which was that I had no rights, no worth. Thank God I now know how wrong that was. I firmly believe that God is love, and love is kind. Where there is abuse, there is no love. I stayed for years through the abuse, the unfaithfulness, the lies. My main regret on that marriage is that I didn’t leave him the first time he beat me.

            • hillsupriversdown

              Yes, true. I also said that the biggest mistake of my life was trying to keep together something that was not worth keeping it together. Marriage alone is not the magic word, its not the solution for everything. Without love and care and respect, there is no marriage, only a piece of paper. Many people do the same mistake we made, thinking that a violent marriage will get better at some point. Some does, but most of them doesn’t. But on the way of trying to save it, kids are afraid, and -as your example shows-getting ruined by extreme fear and maltreatment.

              • Albert

                hillsupriverdown,
                First of all, I’m sorry that you had to endure a violent marriage. No one should have to deal with that alone.

                If it’s okay with you, I would like to ask you some questions.

                Was it really not worth keeping together?

                I’m asking because you married this person for a reason, right?

                What changed that brought on the violence?

                Is it possible that there could have been a way to fix the situation?

                When the abuse was happening, did your friends and family know about it? Were there people around to hold your spouse accountable to their actions?

                I know a lot of people that have gotten a divorce and when they look back realize that all the problems were done in secret.
                They were too embarrassed to say anything or didn’t want people to think they had a failed marriage. So the abuse continued unknown to the people around them. And then when the marriage ended, everyone was surprised.
                Or if they did say anything the people they told didn’t do anything but hold their hand and say it will get better, “you’ll see”.

                I know this isn’t always the case but it seems that is the case I have run across more often then not.

                I agree that marriage is not a magic word. We need to be wise when we make that kind of commitment. And I do realize that sometimes there are problems that can’t be fixed.

                But a lot of marriages I see today are because the people going into them don’t understand what marriage is all about. Some marry because it’s the next step in the relationship regardless if they should do it anyway. Some do it because they like the idea of being married. Others do it because they don’t want to be single. And some just don’t know what they want so they just go through with it. Some are blind to how their partner is in the first place and this causes problems later when they finally start to realize they were not what they really wanted. So many different reasons why people get married and none of them are for the right reasons.

                Marriage has become something that is for self-gratification instead of it being for the betterment of everyone. It has become self serving for most couples.

                “I wanted the tax breaks.” “I wanted to be happier and I wasn’t just being a boyfriend, so I thought marriage would make it better.” and so on and so on.

                I can’t speak specifically to your situation so please understand that I am talking from a place where I have seen many other problems in marriages that should’ve or could’ve been resolved by bringing in people that hold the couple accountable to their vows. I’m just wondering how much those vows were being broken from the start.

                • hillsupriversdown

                  Albert, you are so right in what you say. People do get married for the wrong reasons, I did my self as well. We got married because everyone else did, and that seemed enough reason for us. Oh, how silly we were :).

                  It has passed ten years in this situation, which was a mixture of emotional and physical abuse. Some people says, you can save your marriage alone, in the sense of: regardless of what your spouse does. Well, I truly doubt this, as I have tried and failed.

                  Yes, there was the church, there were several pastors, several marriage counselors who tried to help us for long-long years, without any effect. Many people gave us support and I am thankful for their efforts.

                  My spouse refused to be accountable to anybody.
                  I have made many mistakes during this time too, it was not solely his fault of course. And adding up all the bad things, there was a spiral from where there was no way out anymore.

                  There was a point, where I just had to draw a line and leave the situation. Marriage was very important for me, but my three kid’s and my own health had to come first. Otherwise I would not have been able to take care of them, they were heading into foster-care. I could not let that happen.

                  No, it was not worth keeping it together. Not the way it went. And since I ( and all the church behind us) have found no solution for this for long years, I gave it up. I do not regret it, I know it was the right choice, although it was hurting badly.

                  But I do agree with every word of yours. Marriage is taken too easily, without thinking through what that means. Wrong reasons one after the other, lack of communication, lack of respect, lack of love and caring, etc.

                  Yet, I am very-very thankful for my bad marriage and my divorce. In this hard way I have learned so many things and I came out as a different person. I learned that my way is not necessarily God’s way :)

                  • Albert

                    I’m glad you were able to learn from all of this. There are many that don’t. All they do is become bitter and that doesn’t help anyone. Especially the kids.

                    Just curious, You said, “My spouse refused to be accountable to anybody.”

                    What do you mean by that? Is this in the context of talking to counselors or was that friends and family as well?

                    Did you call people to come over when it was abusive? Were you in a position where you could leave him until he straightened out?

                    My wife didn’t want to come around either when she wanted to divorce me. But we kept it quite. Friends and family didn’t understand the problems we were going through. So she didn’t feel threatened. Until I brought it up to family, she didn’t want to change. As soon as they knew, she was pressured to work on it. She realized that she didn’t have people in her corner.

                    But quite honestly, the one I give credit for saving my marriage was not me and it wasn’t my wife either. It was God. He changed her heart to honor her commitment. And he changed mine to change my focus on my selfish ways. He brought us to understand our vows were not words we said in front of people but that they were actions we were to act out in front of them.

                    I have found that leaving my selfish idiot in the shed has really made a difference with my marriage. And as I tell everyone, Love is not a feeling, it’s an action. Love is a commitment regardless of the situation.

                    If I commit myself to my God, He will bless me. Maybe not today, maybe another day or maybe not until Heaven. And if God doesn’t bless me now, at least I am doing the right things regardless. I don’t love my wife because she loves me, but rather I love her regardless if she loves me. And because of that I am blessed.

  • Pat

    Very wonderful article. I struggle with the term “losing” unless I think of it as “losing yourself in service to others” which always = winning. But I wonder if there is another term besides “losing” because well who wants to feel like a “loser?” haha Thank you for the awesome article! Will share it with my hubby. I think we are a blend of type 1 and 3 if that’s possible.

    • Dr. Kelly Flanagan

      Pat, it is definitely possible! The distinctions are illustrative, but I think many of us find ourselves floating somewhere between or transitioning from one to another. Hope our husband enjoys it, too!

  • Leigh Hudson

    Great article! Reminds me of Gottman’s principle yield to win. I’m also a therapist and love doing marriage therapy. Have learned a lot over the years about many of the things you mentioned in your post. It’s a great reminder to never work harder than they do!

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  • Adele Weitman

    “And still, after all this time, the Sun has
    never said to the Earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with love like
    that. It lights up the sky.” – Rumi

    • Anonymouse

      *Hafiz :)

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  • Ann

    I have just come across this article forwarded by Mark Gungor. Marriage to me has become a chore/duty. I have to please and give up everything to please my husband, and it has to be his way or he will get upset. I have to comb my hair the way he likes, wear the clothes and colors he likes, eat his kind of food. He has emotionally abused me for 3 years and I do not know if i want to be married anymore. My husband calls me all the worst things, i have no favor before him at all. It is hard, and am still here because I do not know how to begin leaving when I made a vow. We are Christians and met in church. He has refused to see a marriage counselor or even our church pastor saying we do not need third party help, its me who has to change. (PHYSICALLY). He chooses the physical appearance more than who I am within and says our marriage is based on how I look. I pray alot for him, still respect and forgive him all the time but most times he gets all wired up and says he is depressed, sad, not happy because am not skinny, I do not have long hair, i do not wear bangs on my face, i do not have that kind of body he likes and anything he can make up. He will not look at me, and when instructing me to do stuff, he does not talk but waves his hands to instruct me like am deaf. I have told him to make a decision about what he wants to do, but he will not make up his mind. Please when is this going to stop? Is this marriage? He does not like my bum and so he will not touch me, hey, whatever he does not like, has to go….so my last blow is for him to tell me to go for surgery to reduce my bum. Really? what is marriage? somebody help me. I have read the article and comments here, and to tell you the truth, if sacrifice is coming from one side, what is the other spouse who will not agree to counselling give up? Nothing, its all about him and divorce for us is not an option. I need help because am tired of pretending to be someone am not. When does this give, give and give stop and how does it feel like to receive? It sounds like a silly question but to me its real. How can things get better? And worst of all, his dad and mum have lived together under the same roof for more than 50 years and stopped talking after 15 years, mum cheated but they did not get divorced, dad started drinking and although they lived together, each lives a separate life. I do not want my marriage to be like that. He has refused to have children because he says they are too much responsibility. When I got pegnant last year, he was so depressed and did not hide it, he sang it everyday until I got a miscarriage, then he was grinning from ear to ear. I am so Sad. I work hard at work and am all bubbly when he is not around but am dying inside. I hate the weekends when we have to spend more time together. He is suffocating me with his negativity, and nothing I do makes him happy. However much I try to do what I think will be good for him, he does not point out the good, he will look for the bad. Am dying inside. To tell you the truth, if I was not a christian, I would have left long time ago. Yes, I lost my self esteem the first 3 months we got married and it has gone down to -45, like the winter in Canada. How can I change to make it better for the King, because I do not have the guts to take a hike yet.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Ann, I am so sorry to hear your story. I can make a couple of suggestions. First, we have some very insightful readers here at UnTangled and if you go back through the long comment thread on this post, you will find some very helpful advice for those in such imbalanced marriages. Also, because your question was one of the most common in response to the post, I included my thoughts about it in a chapter in my eBook, “The Marriage Manifesto.” You can get the book for free by signing up in the sidebar of the blog. I hope these resources will begin to move you along the way toward healing. Blessings, Kelly

      • Anonymous

        Are you kidding?

    • Monique Maryssa…

      I might get shot for saying this, as some people will say that what is to follow is unchristian. I’ll happily address the concerns, but let me go ahead and jump right into it

      In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacred thing. It’s so sacred that it’s imperative to instruct people on certain basic principles of what marriage is and isn’t. The first principle as the necessity of being open to children. That’s #1. If one spouse wants kids and the other doesn’t, it’s clearly understood that more than likely a real marriage has NOT occurred thus freeing both people to pursue a true marriage with someone else. Being open to having children is crucial for a number of reasons, but for the sake of the experience of this gal, it’s directly related to how selfish her “husband” is being. If you can’t be open to kids, it gets harder and harder to be open to anything else other than what YOU want.

      There’s both a short and long explanation for anyone interested in having further discussion about it, but the bottom line is that true marriage demands complete and total giving over of yourself to the other person. When one person withholds the gift of life on purpose and actually puts down the other person for wanting it… that’s abuse on a deep, fundamental level and grounds for an “annulment”. An annulment is not a divorce. It’s basically the public acknowledgement that a marriage never took place. Tack on top of that all the abuse that’s happened since and you have grounds for a serious investigation. I realize this post was written over a year ago, but I would imagine that there are others who have been in similar situations. I wouldn’t felt guilty if I didn’t put that out there, as when i read this kind of thing I want to help free this poor person who has this strange and unchristian idea that it’s wrong to leave. Yes, divorce is not an option for a christian.. .but an annulment is not a divorce. Again, it’s a recognition that the marriage NEVER happened. You might’ve made a commitment, but you’re not necessarily held to that commitment. I know that might sound convoluted, but if you actually studied, prayed and meditated on it… a lot of clarity would come about. Don’t assume because you stood in a “christian” church and said words in front of a bunch of people… that you were necessarily married. In most cases, you were… but again, when the fundamental activity of marriage(having kids) is taken out of the equation, the situation completely changes. Something to think about!

      • drkellyflanagan

        Monique, welcome to UnTangled, and thanks for jumping into the comments! No one will shoot at you around here and I try to monitor comments closely, so if anyone gets out line, I will do my best to moderate. Thanks again for adding your voice!

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  • Keep it real

    All the vast theories and insight on marriage and divorces are at an alll time high. What if it truly was a vow that you kept till death, do any of you so called “Dr.” every consider this? Marriage has gone the way of the toaster overn, when it’s broke throw it away immediately and get a new one. I think this column is absolute garbage and horrible advice.

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  • Lukose Pralayil

    Really an inspirational need for every family…thank you for this great write-up.. May God continue to bless you and your family and friends…

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thank you, Lukose! And likewise to you and yours.

  • brokenhearted Catholic

    funny how this article led me to think that maybe my marriage use to be the first type (warring). We’ve only been married a year but have been together for 10. And we’ve always had issues I’ve always had doubts in marrying him but he was the only one I absolutely trust 100% of my life and so I finally succumbed to marrying him. Anyways, I got tired of arguing and so I’ve decided to stay silent, thus were probably type II now. And the effects are we barely communicate. I’m not happy. He claims he is. He used to always take care of me and shower me attention, now maybe its my turn. So maybe after a few more years we can be type III marriage if I continue to give up my own needs so he can be happy and when he’s happy he can make me feel happy again? Or will I be stuck in type II? A huge part of me wants out before this gets worst. By my friend say I have the tendency to run when a situation becomes too tough….i don’t know what to do. I feel pressured to have kids because I’m in my early 30s. I already know I don’t want kids but I should give him and one or two at least so he’ll be happy. But maybe not yet. I need to find my identity and be strong for them first. I don’t want to end up like my mom who stayed with my insensitive father (but is good to me) and died a sad unfulfilled (undiagnosed emotionally battered) wife. She stayed submissive throughout her marriage. What do I do? Stay in this marriage or leave before I head down the wrong and similar path as my mom? My self-esteem has changed drastically since I got married but I’m trying not to give up my dreams or any hope. The only thing keeping me strong is my faith in God that I am not alone.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thank you for sharing. You will notice in these comments a thread very similar to your experience. I’d recommend you read the suggestions there, and as I suggested to many in your position, I would highly recommend finding an individual therapist. Best of luck to you.

  • APM

    Your stories are beautiful.

  • Rachael

    Wow, this is a beautiful article. As someone who just went through a bad divorce, this is exactly what I believe a healthy marriage should look like. Thank you for sharing this.

    • drkellyflanagan

      You’re welcome, Rachael! Blessings to you as you begin this next part of your journey!

  • Marie

    What if you are unsure if you have a marriage where you are both willing to be losers or whether you’re losing all alone while the other is winning? How do you know if your spouse is losing right along with you if you always feel like you’re the one to lose?

    • drkellyflanagan

      Marie, These are important questions. I would refer you to some of the threads in the comments on this post, where excellent resources are offered for beginning to answer the questions. Also, I always recommend seeing an individual therapist if you are unsure. Best of luck to you.

    • Albert

      I’m not expert, but it would be my understanding that if you were really trying to “lose” as Dr. Flanagan as suggested, then you are not concerned with if your spouse is winning or losing along with you.

      You goal is to lose. That means there is not thought of it being equal. It could almost be considered a game to try and “win” the losing game, so to speak.

      We should not concern ourselves with what our spouses are doing if we are truly dying to self. Our need to know, or understand is something that we would put aside to focus on what we should be doing ourselves.

      At least this is my take of it; the Doc might believe differently.

      Anyway, I wish you the best is all you do.

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  • Will

    For me, marriage itself is a “thing of us”, if both parties talk less about “I and me”, but more about “us”, it may lead to a more successful marriage.
    When the two become one :)

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  • Anonymous

    Last year I broke up with my girlfriend due to many misunderstandings and I remember very well how hard I had been fighting to get her back. She changed her number, changed her job so that I don’t visit her office and none of her friends would give me any information about her. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get her back then a friend recommended me to contact dr.marnish@yahoo.com that he will help me and as my friend said, dr.marnish helped me to bring back my girlfriend just in 3 days, I now have her back and this is the biggest joy of my life
    Gerri Detweiler

  • kristy

    My fiance and I were planning our wedding when his ex wife called him out of the blue about something having to do with his daughter. She made this issue seem more important than it really was but it drew him in because he is a good father. Long story short, the daughter was put into counseling and he had to attend some sessions with his ex and daughter to get through the issue. Turned out the ex wife used that time to work through their marital problems and he ended up calling off our wedding because he was confused about where his life was headed, he was thinking about getting back with her. We had a HUGE fight about it and broke up. I was a mess and felt like I could not go on. Our fight was so bad that he told me if I ever contacted him again he would get a restraining order. It was horrible. After about one months of deep depression I started going to psychics. I probably had about 50 readings until I found someone that told me things that she could not have known about that were detailed and accurate. She suggested that I have a spell cast. I would have never done something like this but I trusted this woman. She told me where to go to have it done and I met up with the Dr. Agba. I told him my situation and he cast a spell to bring Frank back. I was not there for the ceremony but whatever he did worked! Frank called me about a week later and told me that he made a mistake and has been regretting it ever since. He makes a lot more effort to please me in every way and only communicates with his daughter now and not ex wife. If anyone needs a love spell I would HIGHLY recommend agbalaxxy@gmail.com

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  • ferguson gilbert

    I want to tell everybody that the Love Spell works very fast than i taught. I couldn’t believe when after 3 months without sighting my eyes on my girlfriend, she just came back to me saying she still loves me and she wants me back. I own my thanks to Dr.Eziza you truly a great spell caster, you can reach Dr.Eziza on ezizaoguntemple@gmail.com.com or +2348058176289 is an incredible man, give him a try and you will not believe your eyes!”.

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  • Certainly Right

    Well if there weren’t so many Loser Women out there nowadays, many of us men would be able to meet a decent one for a change to settle down with.

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  • Hoss

    Dude. This is beyond awesome. Mind blowing. Yet hard as hell. Thanks for the jolt.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful article. The last three paragraphs, pertaining to ‘two losers” was very enlightening, but what about a marriage where there is only one loser, one person making sacrifices, because the other spouse is too wrapped up in themselves or their addiction. Do those marriages have a chance? Where does the one loser find the strength to endure, in order to find peace and also save the marriage? Is it possible?

  • mom

    Thank you for the great article and also discussion after it, it was quite eye- opening! By the way, i am from Scandinavia- and also told about this to my friends:) Thank you for the great tips once again!

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  • Fraga123

    Men are chumpy. Psychologists depend on this for income, hence, your article.

  • PK

    I want to hear more about the second kind of marriage. With a loser and winner. Sounds like mine.

  • Anonymous

    Whoever claimed that marriage is for losers is a big fat liar! Marriage is for people who support it. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being married.Not that I’d take part it in though.

  • Anonymous

    You, Kelly, are an excuse for a psychologist. Tell me, are you trying to ruin marriage for married people? And who are you to decide who’s a loser and who isn’t? You’re not their owner.

    Plus, you’re hypocritical in that you don’t want people posting offensive comments when this article of yours offensive.

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  • Bryan J. Maloney

    That is the most Christian (as in “follower of Christ’s acts”) type of marriage I’ve ever heard of, I bet you weren’t even trying to do that, either.

  • Debbie Nelson

    Truthful title of this would be Marriage is for the vulnerable. Rare quality! Worth searching for.

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  • Riaan Nolan

    amazing insight, such precious advice

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