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Marriage 101: To Regret or Not to Regret

Jennifer Hallmark,

o regret or not to regret…sounds a little Shakespearian doesn’t it? Our last discussion being on commitment brought this subject to mind, the subject of regret. Regret is a major enemy of commitment and here is why…

Susie is struggling through the grocery store with the three year old twins, fumbling with her list as she tells them once more to sit still. She is pushing the grocery cart and at the same time pulling the double seated stroller.

"Why does Bob have to work all the time lately?” she fumes as she hands each child a cookie out of the bag she just opened to keep them still.
Suddenly she runs smack into Bill and his new bride, Gina who are pushing their cart while holding hands. Gina goes on and on about their new marriage and the time they spend together especially since Bill owns his own business and sets his own hours.
“Where is Bob anyway?” Susie purrs.
They leave and Susie is left with more anger and confused thoughts. Had she made a mistake in marrying Bob? Should she have broken up with old boyfriend Ted to marry Bob…

To regret or not to regret…sounds a little Shakespearian doesn’t it?
In this simple illustration you can see why regret is the enemy of commitment. Regret tries to paint a rosy picture of “what could have been” and “what if” formulas that just aren’t true. I’m not saying whether Susie should have married Ted or Bob but at this moment she cannot think rationally about it. One definition of regret in Webster’s dictionary is “to feel disappointed or distressed about" and another is "to experience loss or grief". While we can’t stop these thoughts from coming, we can stop what we do with them. Susie has a choice to make. The choice is not between Bob or Ted but what to do with her thoughts.

You might say, “Well, I don’t regret getting married” but hang on to little regrets within marriage; regrets such as “I wish I wouldn’t have moved so far from Mother” or “I regret having the children so far apart” or “why did we make that bad financial decision?” If you dwell on these or other thoughts for too long, they can quickly snowball into “why did I get married in the first place?”

What can we do about it? Take each thought captive; grab a hold of it by the throat and say “I’m not going there!” Then purposely bring up a good thought or feeling about your spouse. Now then, I know there are some good points or you wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place…think hard! Maybe your spouse is a good cook or works hard at his job or is kind to animals. Whatever it may be you need to counteract each negative thought with a positive one.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and
Regret tries to paint a rosy picture of “what could have been” and “what if” formulas that just aren’t true.
her statement to me is actually the one that brought about this article. She was excitably telling me about reading my article on commitment and how she had committed to her long time boyfriend and recently married. She then made a statement that went something like this: “I wish I would have met him first before my other marriage.”
A statement of regret that made me feel for her loss. She then went on to say, “But what’s done is done and I can’t change it.”

I applaud that statement and was so happy that she had moved past regret, a regret that might have weighed down her new marriage with her lingering in the past. Instead she has decided to enjoy her new marriage and hopefully keep her thoughts positive even when the honeymoon is over…

Susie finishes her shopping and after wrestling groceries, booster seats and children into the car sits staring at the dashboard in a state of upset. “I just can’t do this anymore” she is thinking when one of the twins speaks up.

“Mommy I love you and Daddy. Abigail at preschool doesn’t have a daddy anymore and she is sad a lot. Her daddy ran away…”

Tears instantly filled Susie’s eyes and she thought, “Bob does love the kids and spends as much time as he can with them. He works hard to provide a nice home for us and Gina wouldn’t be so sure of Bill if she had twins…

Regret, enemy of commitment in marriage and everything in life that is important. Living in the past is a sure way of stalling your journey into the future and the future of your marriage.

So remember - stop the regret and bring on those positive thoughts…Simply Marriage 101…


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Joy, 2009-06-22 16:39:16
Regrets-- I have learned the hard way that regrets will only cause more grief; if we allow them to occupy our thoughts. Thanks for reminding me to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

tm, 2009-04-04 11:43:49
Marriage-- Great article. I love how you pointed out 'HOW' to get the negative thougths OUT and put positive thoughts IN.

Eduardo, 2009-04-04 10:22:35
Opportunity Missed-- Good points. Interesting, the thing that jumped out at me was the Opportunity that Gina and Bill missed, which many of us miss as well. As we encounter people in our day to day travels we need to remember not always to keep our mind focused on us but capture the chance to encourage or exhort others. Think of the times someone has taken time to listen to you and respond with a positve thought, it can change ones day. Encouragement, a smile, a hug can give us the ammo that we might need at that moment to overcome a so called regret.


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