How Saying “Yes” to the Hard Stuff Helps Your Marriage

Marriage can be tough. Hard stuff happens in our committed relationships constantly.

Notice what you do when hard stuff comes up in marriage:

  • Do you brace?
  • Does your body get tight?
  • Do you hold your breath?
  • Do you say things like, “Really?! ANOTHER thing?!”
  • Do you say things like, “Why does so much bad stuff happen to us?!”
  • Do you lash out at others or become cranky? 
  • Do you avoid by drinking, spending, or having relationships with others?

If you answer yes to any of the above, then you like are saying ‘NO’ to an aspect of your relationship and your life that has the potential to grow and heal you.

You have likely heard someone say, “Why don’t you just let it go?” Let go of the fight, the anger, the pain, the grief. Just LET IT GO.

Good advice, except that you cannot let something go that you have not accepted.

This is where saying ‘Yes’ comes in. To say yes to the pain, the discomfort, the grief means leaning in to that experience. To soften, even just a tiny bit, to receive from the experience. To let the experience change and work you…to let the experience integrate into your being to some degree that you might grow from it.

Often, we say ‘No’ to an experience as we believe that we are protecting ourselves from the pain. However, we end up simply rejecting what is happening in our life.

Rejecting the opportunity to experience that which is happening now.

Neuropsychologist and best selling author Rick Hanson describes saying yes in his recent newsletter as having an attitude of acceptance and understanding of choice:

To observe that life contains unavoidable difficulty is not to minimize its impacts or to suggest that we should give up trying to make life better. But people – me included – add a lot of unnecessary frustration, anxiety, and self-criticism by resisting difficulty – often with an underlying attitude of “it shouldn’t be this way.”

It can be terribly difficult to imagine that things SHOULD be this way or that way and they SHOULD NOT be painful and hard. Learning to move out of what they “should” and “should not” be and move into an attitude of acceptance of what is offers an incredible opportunity for transformation and personal evolution.

Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and the owner of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek. Her work with individuals and couples helps to heal and transform and create new opportunities in relationships.