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Foundations of Marriage
What are the foundations of marriage?
Marriage is founded on commitment, communication, core values, intentional time and much more. Whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married it is important to know and understand that marriage is not always about rainbows and butterflies. Often marriage is tough, ugly, dirty, tear-filled, and heart-breaking. But, marriage should always be filled love. While marriage is not only about love and those warm fuzzy emotions, it is about a mutual respect for each other and knowing that you would rather die than purposefully cause harm to your significant other.
How do you build a strong foundation?
Marriage takes work. It takes intentionality. A key aspect of a marriage relationship is a friendship. Knowing the other person inside and out, loving them inside and out, knowing that life will change both of you and being open to growing with your love as they grow.
What does it mean to be committed to a person? Can you be committed without an official ceremony or marriage license? Many people try to say they are committed just because they spend years with a person and that they do not need a piece of paper to prove their love, but what they are really saying is that person is not important enough to them in order to marry them. If you love someone, you will commit to them. Marriage is a foundation in and of itself. Saying in front of your friends, family, and God that you are committing to be with one and only person the remainder of your life is a huge commitment and it is a meaningful one. You are saying you would rather grow old and crinkly with this one person and love them for who they are and will become instead of continuing to date and possibly find something better. When you marry, you know that the there is no person who could possibly be better than the one you say "I Do" to. Your commitment is not a till-I-find-something-better type of commitment, it is a lifetime commitment. There is no consideration of divorce and no doubt in your mind that this is the right decision.
Core values define who you are as a person. What you believe about yourself, the world, God, etc. It is important that the person you are with has beliefs that align with yours. For the basic reason that you want to be able to share in important events with your love, but also because when it comes to future, children, and family - it is important that you are with someone who believes in the same things as you. How can you be with someone who challenges who you are as a person, who you are always having to defend your beliefs or lifestyles? Shouldn't your love, your relationship and your home be a safe place filled with love, joy, support, and encouragement? How can that be if you do not have the same religious, moral, personal, lifestyle beliefs?
Be intentional about the time you spend together! Do not just count togetherness as time spent quiet on a couch with eyes focused on electronic devices or glued to televisions. Spend time communicating, not just reporting information to each other, but building a rapport with one another. Continue building the relationship you started building on the first or second date. Ask the questions, dive into your significant other and learn more about them. Find out what they want, hope and dream. Things change, people change, you will change and so will they. The answers you got one day will not be the same down the road. Keep dating your love and keep learning about them. Be intentional about every minute you spend with them and your love will only grow.
Be vulnerable and willing to expose yourself. You have chosen someone to spend your life with. This should be your go-to-person. The one that you share everything and anything with - never afraid to open up about anything. Yes, this will leave you open to hurt with your heart on your sleeve, but it will also allow exponential growth in your relationship. Allow your spouse to really know you, where you come from, and where you want to go. This is a journey you will take together and one that you will support each other one. Do life together and don't just answer "fine". In our house, "fine" is the worst f-word you could possibly use. Fine indicates that you are actually not good, great, joyful, or happy. It is a key indicator that something is wrong and you don't want to talk about it, but you should always talk about it! Don't be afraid of hurting your love's feelings because it will be more detrimental to your self and marriage burying things under a rug that will eventually get ripped out from underneath you and you will be exposed!
What is the secret to your marriage?
Don't be afraid
Single, married, divorced, separated.... Don't be afraid of what is to come. Focus on what you can do with the situation you are in. What is the common phrase? What do you do when life throws you lemons?
You make lemonade!
Marriage is not always perfect and it does not always work out the first time for everyone. Sometimes you find yourself in an irreconcilable situation. Even after counseling, there are aspect of the relationship that you are not able to accept, move past, or support. This is where I found myself in my first marriage, but there were key things missing from my foundation. I have learned and come to understand that if I had focused more on building a strong foundation while dating, I would have uncovered key information that would have helped me make a better, well educated decision (I would not have gotten married). But, now that I am in a joyful, rewarding, loving relationship and know what it takes to make it work and what is important - I cannot help but feel the need to share it.
What can harm your marriage foundation?
Inequality plays a major role in harming relationships. Whether that be not having a good work/life balance, not having an equal say in decision making, or taking responsibility and fighting fair.
Time is valuable and where you invest it you will grow. Do you invest enough time in your relationship/marriage? What are you investing in instead? Is it more important than your marriage? What could be more important than your marriage? Taking time with your spouse allows them to know they are valuable, important, and worth your time. Wether that be a simple gesture like checking in midday, texting a "thinking of you", or a more complex gesture such as planning a date, getaway or making reservations for two. When you want to be better at something, generally you practice and learn to get better. You invest time and grow. Take the time and grow your relationship by allowing your significant other to know they are valuable and worth your time. If you do not do this, your spouse will not feel valuable, worth your time or interested in. Take the effort and keep dating your spouse so they will always feel like they did in the first month of dating.
You make decisions every minute. Some may be what to eat, what to wear, which route to drive. More important decisions in life can include what car to buy, where should you live, what job to take, what to do when crisis strikes. There needs to be communication in decision making when it involves anyone but yourself. The important thing to realize is that when you are married there is no you, I, or me anymore, there is us, we, and our. Every decision you make affects there person you love, so, be fair and include them in them. Set boundaries on what are important decisions to discuss before an individual goes ahead. Not setting these boundaries can cause major conflict. If you make a decision without communicating to your spouse first, there may be lack of trust, loyalty or commitment drawn into question that could have been avoided by merely discussing it first. Be proactive with your marriage.
Taking responsibility and fighting fair is hard to do, definitely a challenge, but necessary. Admit when you are wrong and know when to not try to prove you are right. If you always try to be right, prove your spouse wrong, or diminish them it will not make you better, stronger, right, or justified. You will only be harming your spouse and your marriage. It's not about winning an argument as much as it is about understanding each other better and getting to the root of the problem.
Words of Advice
Always kiss goodnight and never go to bed angry - this will keep your mornings bright and you will be able to start every day new!
Choose your love and love your choice - Know that who you having chosen to spend your life with is the one you love and it was your choice! A choice you make every day.
Comparing will steal your joy - Do not try to keep up with the Jones'. Be you and focus on developing and growing the joy you have!
Be equally yoked - Know that the person you are in a relationship with believes in the same core values as you do. This is key.
Happy wife = Happy life. Happy hubby = Happy life. - This goes both ways. Don't kid yourself thinking that the wife is the only one who cares or has feelings. He does too!
Never stop dating - It important to make sure your spouse knows you are still interested the same way you were when you first started dating. Don't loose the spark.
Don't keep score - Take responsibility and fight fair. Be okay with not being right and know that you will win in the end if you just love.
His family is as important as Hers! - It's never about me, I, your, you - It's about us, we, our... This important to keep in mind when it comes to family. Family plays a large part in every relationship/marriage and in building a family of your own. Be sure you support and maintain healthy relationships with the in-laws. Your family should never take precedence because your spouse's family is just as important.
Seeking outside wisdom and expertise is not reserved for when your marriage is in the toilet. Speaking to a professional can be a great preventative act when you are approaching difficult decision making situations or having trouble understanding each other. Do not get to a breaking point before you are willing to seek help. Help does not mean you are weak or out of control of your relationship, it means that you are willing to invest in your marriage and that your desire is for healthy growth!