1 Choice That Changes Everything In Your Marriage

Marriage (or any long-term intimate relationship) can be the most satisfying, gratifying, and mystifying experience in life.  Maybe that’s why a large percentage of our population try it.

It seems that many people “try it,” as a sport that you win or lose, and naturally the intent is to win.

Other people “totally commit to it” as a symbiotic way of being together regardless of what life throws at them.

It’s one choice you get to make.

Don’t take me wrong, I’m not meaning that you or your partner consciously headed into your relationship as a convenient sport. “Sure, let’s try this for awhile until something better comes along.” No, no, no – most people don’t think that way.

As a Marriage Commissioner, I have not yet met a couple with this “try it on” approach.  They always speak words that indicate the intent to form a life-long partnership to win together as a team.  Yet in every case, I also hear slight innuendos where there are differences of thoughts, words, and feelings which indicate a “me” versus “you” scenario.

This is totally natural, because both people come from different family backgrounds where there were perceived right and wrong ways of existing together.  I repeat, “perceived.”

Examples:

  • Who brings in the cash?
  • Who cleans the house, does the laundry, changes diapers, cooks meals?
  • Who maintains the house, yard, and vehicles?
  • Who does the bookkeeping, budgeting, pays the bills?
  • Who organizes social activities, vacations, time together?
  • Who decides who you hang out with in your social circle?

There is no right or wrong way.  Yet, unless there is honest, open dialogue and agreement to these things, the relationship becomes a contact sport where the couple are opponents, rather than team-mates. Verbal, mental, physical, and emotional attacks soon create feelings of doubt that the relationship will work long-term. Doubt puts you on-guard, watching for any real or perceived threat.  Happiness and joy wane.

It’s one choice you get to make.

Carol and I played this contact sport for many years. Like most couples, we had team huddles, came up with mutually agreed game plans, and worked together in many areas.  But there were some niggly things that seemed to get in the way regularly. When they showed up (usually unconsciously) the boxing gloves were donned, the whistle blew, and the mental, verbal, and emotional blows began. The physicality showed itself in avoidance, escape, and withholding time together – the physical touch that we both wanted and needed.

Finally, we made the critical choice to set the past behind us.  We agreed to approach the present moment and our future in a new way – our way, as a unified team.  Our mutually agreed game plan was unconditional love – unconditional.  Divorce, separation, infidelity were not an option, and were eliminated from our vocabulary.

All challenges or perceived challenges became topics of conversation so we could work together to overcome them and grow as human beings.  We sat on the same bench, looking toward our bright future together, as strong individuals working together to overcome challenges.  We never sat nose-to-nose in opposition to each other. Carol made a powerful statement of truth, “If we don’t win as a team, I lose as an individual.”

It’s one choice you get to make.

How do you make this critical choice to eliminate doubt and only give and accept unconditional love? 

The relationship coach in me has questions for you so you can develop your own game plan as a couple. These work best if you each do them and have an honest dialogue about them.

I invite you to think about when you were courting – putting on your best – the team try-outs.

  • What were the traits and qualities you exhibited that made life fun, fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful? I invite you to write those down.
  • Take turns to share these with your partner. If you are the listener, just listen, without saying a word.
  • What were the traits and qualities in your partner that you truly appreciated, enjoyed, loved, and respected? I invite you to write those down.
  • Take turns to acknowledge your partner for each of these. If you are the listener, just listen, without saying a word.  When your partner has completed, a “thank you” is appropriate.
  • As a couple, I invite you to share the dreams and visions you had for your long-term relationship together, and write down the high points that you both agree are still important. Add to the list based upon positive changes that have occurred.

Now comes the most important part, which is about accountability moving forward. The answers and results from these questions are totally in your control, they are not about expectations of your partner.

  • What traits and qualities do you need to exhibit to be the best team-mate ever?
  • What beliefs and attitudes will you apply consciously, consistently, and persistently?
  • What limiting beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions will you let go of – knowing that they impede your success as a team?
  • How will you keep your vision of your long-term relationship alive, bright, and expansive?

Whether you answer the questions above – or not, it really boils down to one choice you can make – a conscious choice that can eliminate all doubt.  The choice can be summed up in one simple statement you can say to yourself and your partner.

I am committed to unconditional love – no matter what!

It’s one choice you get to make.

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