Aug 20, 2021
We are winding down what we affectionately refer to as "Wedding Season," and the unfortunate reality is that what follows is always a full calendar of struggling marriages. The most difficult part of marriage is managing expectations and fluctuating excitement levels. Unfortunately, all the excitement of planning a wedding and preparing or the rest of our lives doesn't last forever. Today's question is "What do we do after the dust settles?"
For some of us it's the dust of starting a new forever and for others of us its the chaos of a jam packed summer season. The stats still suggest that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, which leads us to believe that most of us don't handle the dust settling season very well. We love the excitement of all the things that summer celebrations bring us, but we don't pivot well when the excitement fades.
Here are 3 important areas of your relationship to focus on after the dust settles...
We should know why we chose each other and we should revisit where we are going regularly. This sounds simple, but how in the world do we focus on this when everything else in our lives is so busy?
1. Choose Each Other (again and again): The starting point for defining your purpose is to remember and revisit why it is that you chose each other in the first place. Focus only on the positive elements of why you chose to spend the rest of your life together.
2. Marriage Vision: Having a desired future state, shared goals, and a plan to regularly check in on those things is crucial to staying the course toward a meaningful marriage. We like to help couples discuss and document their purpose, beliefs, values, and desired characteristics. Form there we can create a plan to live out our goals and be who we say we want to be. Anytime we aren't where we want to be or who we want to be, we can course correct.
3. Spiritual Connection: We always discuss "spiritual connection" as having conversations about things below the surface and being involved in things that are bigger than yourself. Not every couple is connected to a church, mosque, or synagogue, but every couple can donate money, time, food to meaningful causes. These things help take the focus off of ourselves and gives our relationship a bigger purpose beyond simply being happy.
focuses on length of marriage and leads us to believing the myth that happy couples don't have problems. If we shift our focus from length to experiencing meaning in our marriage, the length will be a byproduct and the result will be a lasting & meaningful marriage. The key to developing a meaningful marriage is to first define your purpose.
Facilitate" implies that the process of knowing and understanding each other is ongoing. Once we settle in, we often stop trying as hard, or worse, we start feeling entitled to more. When we shift our focus from having found the perfect person to focusing on really knowing our partner, we allow for giving and receiving understanding as our relationship grows.
1. Personality Differences: Let's face it...We are different in many ways from our spouse. The more we focus on the value of our differences and learn to adjust and benefit from them, the better our relationship will be. It's not enough to know that we are different, we have to regularly be on the lookout for how these differences make our lives better and more complete.
2. Communicate Clearly: Thoughts, intentions, and impact are often difficult to communicate. The problem we see with many couples is that because communication is difficult we stop doing it. It often seems easier to stay quiet or assume that we know what each other is thinking or meaning. Developing phrases and language that creates a shared meaning can help navigate our intentions and the impact of our words or behaviors.
3. Family First: Family consists of many complicated variables and personalities. Events typically allow for opportunities to set our differences aside, but after the dust settles we may lose sight of what's most important to our family unit. Take some time to regroup and reset as an individual family unit. Build in family time here and there and don't let the new season pass you by without time to be together.
Building trust takes continual honesty and transparency, as well as, grace when we get it wrong. Unfortunately, trust is built in small deposits and can be lost in 1 single withdrawal. Shifting our focus to a journey full of small daily moments rather than one big thing, we not only actively build trust, we leave room for extending grace and restoring trust when things don't go perfectly.
1. Comfortable with Conflict: Perfect marriages don't exist...that is marriages without conflict, at least. We believe that engaging in and managing conflict actually builds trust. When we discuss difficult things, solve hard problems, swallow our pride, and admit when we have been wrong, we actually draw closer to each other. The key is how we discuss and approach conflict with each other. Our comfort level with conflict is like a muscle...the more we engage in conflict the better we get at it.
2. Goal Based Budgets: A budget is one of the easiest ways to set a plan and then follow it. Having goals to work toward together is unifying. Additionally, budgets provide monthly opportunities to connect and evaluate how well you are doing what you said you would do. Budgets also give us a neutral, less emotional thing to discuss so that we can focus on budget items rather than the individual.
3. Intimacy: Connecting through touch, emotional connection, and physical intimacy engages our emotions on deeper levels. Exposing ourselves emotionally and physically is an act of vulnerability and naturally invites the other person to reciprocate. There are even deeper physiological connections that get made when we connect through touch. It could be as simple as a hug or holding hands. Physical touch is naturally bonding.
If you don't know where to start, we have a Marriage Mindset Video and discussion guide that helps couples discuss these key areas and create a plan for investing in all 3 areas.