Grace, you ask if anybody does any real honest preparation for their marriage. I think there are some couples that really discuss and understand what it means. Maybe the second time around is even better. But when we’re so young, we get caught up in the fairytale experience of marriage and having a family that we don’t fully comprehend the everyday work involved. And marriage involves working together everyday to ensure a successful, happy home for everyone living in it.
I have heard some elders say that we need to take care of our husbands first. Happy husbands, happy homes. Then there was a man who once said to take care of your wife, she is the one that holds up the home and can bring unity and harmony to everyone in it. Why not just have a family vision that each one participates in creating so everyone has buy-in? I tried having a family vision once. I thought it was working until recently. But that’s another day…
Certainly, one action that can truly help a marriage is marital counseling. When I think about the three times we went to marriage counseling, I’m glad I had the opportunity to look inward and better myself. I know the main topic was communicating clearly and utilizing tools that they gave us. The key to this success is having the commitment from each partner to really do the work not just hear what the counselor or spouse is saying during the one-hour session. Doing the work is so different from planning the work, and it seems like today I have my work cut out for me.
Guiding Lesson: Eve, you hit it on the head. Marriage needs active, committed participation. A happy home is not the responsibility of one spouse. That is not a healthy interdependent relationship. Both parties need to have skin in the game and understand that their contribution is imperative. Allowing one spouse to hijack the other’s sense of worth, value and importance is not going to help in building a true union. This does not mean, however, that you need to beat each other up to win your point. It simply means that both are invested in the marriage.
I believe that all couples need to wake up every morning and recommit to their marriage by actively choosing to love their spouse that day. Each new day is another opportunity to renew the vows made on the wedding day. As the sun rises to greet the day with a new promise so, too, should couples greet each other with the new promise to love again and again and again.
Now as the sun sets and lets go of the day so, too, should couples let go of all that weighs them down. They are free to be present and relax in each other’s arms. This is a perfect time to practice forgiveness and offer compassion. Isn’t home the place to feel safe and comforted? It is a place where, even if there are dark times, the couples can be a light for each other so they can navigate during the difficult times.
Yes, Eve, marriage is about doing the work…the hard work that requires courage, commitment and compassion. I admire how committed you were during this time and how you sought help when you needed it. Love is a choice after the feelings fade. Choosing to love is what couples have control over. What choice will you make today?