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Articles from September 2007

September 22, 2007

Not Married?

Yesterday's local headline sure got our attention. Our county Register of Wills, who also handles marriage licenses, issued a warning. My husband and I might not be married.

When I told a friend today, she said, "But I saw you two get married with my own eyes!"

A judge in York County handed down a ruling earlier this month. So far, it applies only in that one county, but it leaves things rather murky in all the rest. Ordained ministers without a congregation that meets regularly, the judge says, don't have that "power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" they claimed at the wedding. Even though the county took our money and issued us a marriage certificate, the existence of our marriage could be contested -- by either of us to avoid a divorce settlement, by a relative coveting an inheritance if we didn't have wills, or by a district attorney hoping to force one of us to testify against the other, just for starters.

So we'll be counting on the friend who saw it with her own eyes and all the rest of our wedding guests if we ever need to call on Pennsylvania's Common Law Marriage provision. It was still in effect when we married. Because they heard us say our vows back then, we're still legally married.

A lot of other Pennsylvanians who got married more recently will need to start over with a new marriage license and a different officiant or face the possibility of seeing their married status vanish into thin air right when they most need it.

September 19, 2007

The Pitfalls of Looking for Love Online

While the story circulating on the internet may well be a hoax, it points to something so very true about marriage. According to the news item, Prince of Joy fell for Sweetie and she fell for him during online chats. Both lived in Zenica, Bosnia, and each was unhappily married and delighted to meet someone so good to them.

They decided to meet. Sana Klaric (27), aka Sweetie, showed up at the designated meeting place, where she first saw Prince of Joy. He turned out to be her husband Adnan (32). Both were stunned to learn the person who said such sweet things online and offered such sympathy about their marriage problems was the same person who had nothing sweet to say at home. And now they knew they were being cheated on. They plan to divorce.

It's not just the story of the Sana and Adnan's marriage. It's the story of so many marriages. Online or dating, we assume love. We gather up and hold dear every sign of love. We feel loved, so we feed back love to this person we're just getting to know. We look for the best possible explanation of everything we learn about this person, and we feed back heaps of respect, and it feels great. Then we marry.

At the first sign things won't be all sweetness and light, we start assuming there's some risk to this partnership. We gather up and grab onto every sign of threat to our independence, self-esteem, financial well-being, or sense of power. We feed back our fears and our indignation, and these become more evidence of risk for our spouses.

Sana and Adnan proved to themselves there was still much to love about each other. They proved they still could see the best in each other and reflect it back as love and respect. They demonstrated what a different response they'd get if they did this at home. But they chalked it all up to bad judgement, because they've already assumed trouble and treated everything they could as evidence of trouble.

I'm sure they think things will be different if they just find the right person. There is no right person when you operate with the wrong assumption. To enjoy being married, assume love.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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