Of course every marriage relationship is different, but I’ve found in my own marriage one critical element, or what I call a “critical commitment”, has made a huge difference in our “sticking it out” during the challenging times and coming out stronger, more loving, more deeply understood and more intimate.
And of course the most important piece is open minded communication, which should be the solid foundation to build on. There are so many moving pieces once two become one…and then three or four or five or more. I know for my wife and me once we came together with our 5 kids we were blown away by the complexity and downright difficulty of growing a marriage while raising kids. And yet, we were both deeply committed to having the kind of love, intimacy and friendship that is now extraordinary.
In the process, you should come to find that whatever it is you are working on improving (whether it is figuring out a right balance of kid time vs free time, figuring out how to express your love in the way the other really needs to receive it, or figuring out how to balance the monthly budget)…whatever ideal solution you are trying to find, the greatest commitment is to working it through until you get it right.
Wives, and husbands for that matter, I’d love you to think about one area in your life or marriage that you would like to see improved. Involve your spouse. Ask him/her what his ideal in this area looks like, and share your vision. Then ask if he/she is open to committing to the drawing board. To seeing it through as you work on getting that part of your relationship closer and closer to what feels exactly how you want it to be.
There has to be mutual goals, I know you may know a couple that is contemplating divorce just simply because “we’re heading in 2 different directions”. What does that mean? There is no infidelity, no abuse, finances are mostly in order but your goal for us doesn’t match mine, really? Fortunately, when our life goals are so diametrically polarized we usually recognize the disparity.
But more often, we enter a relationship without formulating any goals at all. We mistake commonality for mutuality and find out too late that we view life very differently. Sharing a passion for sushi or Jazz music is a rather paltry foundation for a marriage. Yet it happens every day. Now, appreciation is also important.
Everyone wants to be appreciated. But great relationships take this concept much further. Each of you contributes different qualities to the relationship. These qualities are rarely balanced. While one may give the bulk of the financial support, the other may carry the social and emotional responsibility. True appreciation means that you really value what the other one brings to the table and are grateful for every contribution.
And those involved in relationships that are uniquely special, do exactly that. They see and understand the characteristics that make their partner special. They convey that feeling in a sincere and loving way. And they never lose sight of what makes them exceptional. Giving and taking are the ways in which our needs get satisfied.
And in every good relationship, balance of these concepts is essential. But that doesn’t mean that each of us must give 50% and take 50%. Some of us are heavily wired to give, while others are programmed to receive (mostly). Real balance is achieved when you understand how it works in each unique relationship.
You may be very generous with your money, but less so with your time. You must find balance, a balance you agree on. Which brings me back to communication. This is probably the most over-used and least understood concept in the world. Naturally, words are the building blocks of good communication.
But much of how we feel and what we need is conveyed through body language, mood, and expression. When a relationship is in trouble, the parties often complain that they cannot be expected to “read minds.” But being able to read your partner’s mind really well is often a telltale sign that a special closeness exists and that the communication is of a very high level.