“Look at those two. Sighhhhh... Young love.”
How many times have you heard a statement like that from a couple that has been married for a length of time?
The young “puppy love” is definitely something that changes with time, but certain elements of it can be preserved for the long haul.
I am writing this while flying to speak for a week in Columbus Ohio. My wife and I stayed this weekend in Biloxi at the Beau Rivage Resort Casino. We got a couple's massage at the IP Casino (Ahhhh... Their spa is AMAZING). So, marriage is on my mind, and my view on marriage will hopefully stimulate your thinking about it.
When you got married, you made a vow “til death do us part.” You also made a commitment that requires you to spend more time with this ONE person than anyone else for the rest of your entire life. If this one person is going to be with you more than any other person in your life, for the rest of your life, how do you want that time to be? I want it to be amazing, like spending time with a long-lost best friend every time we are together. To create that is worth studying, I assure you.
In my opinion, there are several different things to consider when evaluating how to have a long term, thriving marriage. First of all, what is a successful marriage to you? How would you define it?
The average marriage ends in divorce. Just to not get a divorce is not a successful marriage to me. I don’t know about you, but I want a marriage that's on FIRE, a spouse whom I daydream about during the day, one that makes me smile and wag my invisible tail when she comes in the door, one that I get lost in thinking about our future lives together, one that makes my heart skip a beat when we kiss, and a sex life that would rival most honeymoons. Thankfully, for me, I can say I have an amazing marriage, 5-1/2 years into it. I believe there are several reasons for that. First of all, we both want a thriving marriage, not just a surviving marriage.
People say that “marriage takes work.” I most certainly agree, but most people view it as work that needs to be done like a task of taking out the garbage or emptying the dish washing machine. It’s not that kind of “work.” The type of work it takes is viewing marriage like a priority project. It takes energy and thought power. It takes you stopping and thinking about your marriage often to recognize what would make your spouse feel absolutely amazing. Most couples do not pause in their busy lives and treat their marriage like a top-priority project the same way they would if their boss said, "you have to complete this project, or you are fired,” and that is an absolute shame. It leads to nothing more than a surviving marriage, at best, and a nasty contested divorce at worst. Prioritizing your marriage and thinking about it does not include the things that you are already supposed to be doing. You are expected to think about and plan for Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, and your spouse’s birthday. Prioritizing these things is expected. We are talking about above and beyond the expected. If all you do is work on what is expected, expect a marriage in need of major work.
Take a flashback with me for a moment...
...to your dating days with your current spouse. Did you day dream about them when you were not together? Did you do little things such as open the door for them or starting their car to warm it up or bringing them a cup of fresh hot coffee first thing in the morning if you were up first? Did you ever get them a gift just because? Did you send them a text to let them know you were thinking about them at random? Did you do whatever it took in order to free up some time for you to spend with them? Now what if you did that years into your marriage still, simply because you consciously chose to? I still send my wife random texts to see how she is and let her know I’m thinking about her. I still get her random “just because” gifts. I still open the car door for her, still take her on hot dates, and still let her know with a little smirk just how attractive I find her. These small, conscious things are the kindling to our fire. And they can be the kindling to yours for many, many years to come.
If marriage was a priority project for you, you wouldn’t mind studying it. What if you read just one book on marriage yearly? You can only imagine what that would do for you. Tony Robbins says you cannot motivate someone until you find out what already motivates them. If you believe that to be true than you must also believe that you cannot get someone to feel love until you understand what already makes them feel loved. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages teaches 5 different ways that people feel love. Most likely, your spouse has a primary that is different than yours. Not only do they need to know your love language, but you most certainly need to know theirs. You cannot control your spouse and get them to do the things in this post, but you can control YOU, and the more you work on this, the more they will feel loved and will likely want to reciprocate. In addition to studying marriage written by credible sources, you should also consider studying the biological needs of your spouse’s sex. Regardless of what they say or even recognize, each sex has different biological needs and wiring that cannot be denied. If you ever wanted a manual to your spouse, this would be as close as it comes. If you only do what your spouse asks and shares with you, and you do not address their biological needs, your marriage will not thrive. Read a book on it. It will change everything. Trust me. For recommended resources, feel free to contact me at Kevin@StrategicLifeDesign.com.
"A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” Marcus Aurelius
Whenever you are questioned, you always assume the best about yourself. “Oh I didn’t mean it that way,” “don’t be so sensitive,” “you know I would never do that.” These are things we find ourselves saying to people, trying to get them to assume the best of us. Why are we not quick to do that with other people? If my wife gets snappy or hateful for any reason, I always try to assume the best. I think to myself “she didn’t mean that,” or “she’s just not feeling well.” Think the best of your spouse, just like you do in yourself. This will deflate many moments in your life and create smooth sailing in mildly turbulent waters versus having mildly turbulent waters hit your boat, knock it over and completely capsize and sink it. In other words, don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill, make a mole hill out of a mountain.
Think about the happiest moment you can think of in your life, wether it was with your spouse or not is irrelevant...
Think of a moment before you continue reading.
Got it in your head? If not, stop reading it until you have it!
Let me make a few predictions about this happy moment you are thinking of… I bet it has 2 components:
1) It was a unique experience.
2) It was shared with another person.
How did I know that? Because a book on happiness proved that the happiest moments in your life will always have those two factors. They will always be a unique experience, and they will always be shared with another human being. Here’s what’s beautiful about that: Now that you know, what unique experiences can you have with your spouse? These will be some of the happiest moments in your life. I am ALWAYS looking for unique experiences to share with other people, which is probably why I am consistently one of the happiest people that I encounter. I love living life and design my life that way. I encourage you to design your marriage that way too.
What can you learn together?
What can you experience together?
Your spouse fell in love with you in your dating days. Focus on working on you, on becoming more of what they fell in love with to begin with. Keep a sense of life and adventure. That’s the Strategic Life way!