How your view can change what you do

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About Corey

Corey writes regularly about marriage and relationships on his site, Simple Marriage, which is full of laid back information sure to improve your relationships.You can also catch his radio show - Sexy Marriage Radio, a weekly show filled with straightforward and practical information that will help your marriage.

Good marriages create good families. Good families create good neighborhoods. Good neighborhoods create good communities. Good communities create … you get the idea.

But creating a good marriage depends on more than just your interactions with your spouse … it also depends on how you view marriage in general.

Marriage is not just the sum of the personal interactions that you find either satisfying or distressing, marriage is more a social status and a shared ideal — a story you have about your own life, your family, your spouse, and your love.

Stated another way, the attitudes and values we have about marriage and divorce affect how satisfying we find being married. In communities where marriage is highly valued, husbands and wives get more from marriage than they would in a community where marriage is seen as a more private matter or even temporary.

People who are deeply committed to marriage as a lifelong vow have happier marriages not only because of what they do in their relationships, but because of what they think about being married in general.

This also holds true in how you conduct yourself within the marriage.

What do you do with your time? Your energy? Your thoughts? Your actions?

The happiness you get from any role in life — being a parent, holding a job, being married — depends in part on how satisfying you find the day-to-day interactions and tasks. But it also depends on whether you see the role itself as important and valuable.

How you view what happens in your relationships will dramatically impact what you do.

Let’s look at a couple of areas where your view dramatically impacts what you do.

Commitment

I believe that everyone enters in to marriage being totally committed to making the relationship last. When you first meet and fall in love with someone you don’t consciously say, “Wow, now this is someone I can totally see being miserable with in 5 years” or “This is someone I can see divorcing down the road.”

We enter into relationships with the expectation of happiness, companionship, love, romance, sex, and the list goes on. So when it comes to the idea of commitment, is commitment more to your spouse or to yourself?

The answer is actually both – but not in the order you likely think.

Being committed to the ideal of marriage for yourself is more important than being committed to the person you’re married to. This is not an either/or deal however, as both are vital. But the value you place on marriage for yourself will carry you through the tough times more than the commitment you have to your spouse. After all, you likely believe that the rough times you experience in marriage are in some way caused by the person you’re married to.

Fidelity

Many people have a pretty loose definition of fidelity. Many people believe being faithful to your partner means you don’t do anything with another person that you wouldn’t do with a family member. It means not doing anything that you wouldn’t do if your spouse were standing next to you, watching.

But fidelity is not the opposite of infidelity.

It isn’t what you don’t do, what you don’t get caught doing, or what you wish you could do but don’t.

Fidelity is showing up, with all of you, for your spouse.

It’s being 100% present.

And, it’s keeping all your sexual energy in your marriage. I truly believe that the best way to create a deep and meaningful relationship is to keep 100% of your sexual energy within your marriage.

Many people have their sexual energy leaking out all over the place. The prolonged looks, the day dreams, the emotional and physical flirting. It may seem harmless but it’s slowly eroding the relationship.

Ladies, tell me if I’m wrong: for a majority of women, trust=lust.

The more a wife trusts that she has all of her husband’s sexual attention, the more she can let go and be vulnerable with him. On the other side of this, mess with a woman’s sense of trust, and you mess up her lust.

Photo by Texasbubba

Friendship

Many people desire to create a marriage where their spouse is their best friend. There’s a certain loftiness about this idea.

A good marriage is based on friendship, but when your spouse reaches the level of being your primary and/or sole outlet of your relational needs, you’re in for problems.

Look at it this way, as your spouse climbs the ladder of importance and you spend more and more time together, there is more pressure on them to fill the void of whatever you give up for the sake of the relationship.

There’s a need for a healthy amount of space within marriage.

Because when your spouse is your only friend there is a decrease of passion, novelty and eroticism in the marriage – because these aspects only exist in the space between you.

Stated another way, one of the of the biggest killers of passion in marriage is all the meaningless time spouses spend together. And this monotonous coexistence is what often comes to define most marriages.

Seek out good, same-sex friendships and you’ll see an uptick in the level of satisfaction in your marriage. Granted, too much time with friends and not your spouse has its pitfalls as well, but the space created between you when you each create vibrant and fulfilling lives will spark much more in the marriage.

How does your view influence you?

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Comments

  1. I just can’t agree that if a husband and wife are each other’s primary relationships (ie they don’t really have a strong need for other friends) this is a problem. I don’t think its really the norm, and people shouldn’t feel like having other friends is bad for their marriages, but some people are really like that. Introverts especially may not require lots of deep external friendships to be happy and healthy.
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    • I totally agree with Catherine. I guess it depends, also, on what you view as “meaningless time.” If I’m folding laundry while chatting with my husband, then that time has a two-fold meaning (no pun intended): one, I’m using my time to provide clean clothing for my family, and two, I’m sharing my thoughts with my husband. I find both of these things to be deeply meaningful. I can’t think of anything in my life that falls into the “meaningless time” category — it’s the sanctification of, the rendering meaning into, all of the little things we do every day, together, that makes life on the whole meaningful and satisfying. I have some very good friends, and excellent relationships with my sisters and parents, but given the choice I’d always rather be with my husband, even if all we’re doing is figuring out a crossword over a cup of tea, or running errands with the kids.

      • Yeah, I can’t agree with the friendship section of this post either. I think I can appreciate what’s being said, but it seems to assume that only that which is novel is sexy – meaning that if your spouse is too familiar to you…too normal…too ordinary then, you’ll lose that “spark” and your sex/love life will suffer. I don’t buy it. At best, it’s a truth that is indeed true for some. At worst, it’s a sad reflection of a tired, ever-present lie in our culture. If only we humans could understand that all of our mundane still is really miraculous…

    • avatar
      MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

      Where do children come into play with this scenario?

      Between our work schedules and commutes we get about 2 hours a night as a family and then about an hour and a half together during the week. Of course, during that time dinner must be made and eaten, baths, chores and putting kids to bed.

      During the weekends we do our best to have family time and without reliable childcare

      • avatar
        MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

        Sorry…
        We don’t have the ability to spend a lot of alone time together.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love everything you’re saying here, I just don’t know how to do it with kids, no time and no money!

  2. I always love your posts, Corey. They always seem to be perfectly timely. Right now my husband has just returned from a three week work trip, and we’re trying to settle back into our togetherness. It’s really challenging (it always is!) but being more mindful about it is a start. Your post helped, so thank you!
    The Accidental Housewife´s latest post: On time and teapots

  3. Good communities create good countries, good countries create a best peaceful Earth for us.
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  4. Just wanted to say hi, love your post!!! Hubs and I started following your podcast after hearing you on the Simple Mom Podcast… Great job you are doing!!!
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  5. “Fidelity is showing up, with all of you, for your spouse.” I really like your point about fidelity not being the opposite of infidelity. So often we think of marriage as a list of do’s and don’t's as compared to a commitment that is thinking about a relationships way above rules.
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  6. I really like this post.

    You said “one of the of the biggest killers of passion in marriage is all the meaningless time spouses spend together. And this monotonous coexistence is what often comes to define most marriages.”

    SO true in my opinion. I find when my husband and I have lots and lots of meaningless time together we loose a little bit of connection/spark that we have normally. Things just get boring – like a day in day out roommate.

    Thanks for sharing!
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  7. It’s our anniversary today… It’s hard to imagine a more fitting post. =)
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  8. Love this advice – I tend to be lazy about setting up social stuff for myself, my goal this year has been to connect with my girlfriends more. I have found it really makes a difference in my overall well being.
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  9. I wholeheartedly agree with almost all of this post but feel that you have overlooked the most important component of a healthy marriage. BOTH people must be committed to all of the things you mentioned. It absolutely must be mutual. Feels like a bit of a slap in the face, knowing that I WAS fully committed for years and worked hard to improve and maintain something that the other person simply didn’t value. Perhaps that is taken for granted by those who have it. But it should not be. If your spouse is as committed as you, please show your appreciation. Often.

  10. And as I’m sure you’ve mentioned previously in your writing, a good marriage is the best gift we can give our children. When I’m feeling spread thin and having a hard time setting my time priorities, I try to remember that spending energy on our marriage is good for our entire family (not just the adults).
    Such a lovely post, thank you.
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  11. The primary job for husband/wife is to help their spouse get to heaven. If you remember that, everything else falls into place.

  12. I love the post. Thanks! I really appreciate the idea that being dedicated to marriage is so important. I think too many people forget that and when times get hard, and it’s difficult to be dedicated to the specific person, we lose too many marriages to divorce. But if they had stayed committed to the marriage itself, that dedication to the person would return. Of course, some divorces are for the best for everyone (even the kids sometimes, I believe), but it’s hard to believe with the rates so high that we couldn’t avoid some with more faith in the institution of marriage.

  13. For me, I think realizing the marriage commitment isnt’t just between husband and wife, but husband, wife and God helps me stay more committed and work harder at this relationship thing.
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  14. For me, I think realizing the marriage commitment isn’t just between husband and wife, but husband, wife and God helps me stay more committed and work harder at this relationship thing.
    Lisa´s latest post: National Cheeseburger Day!!

  15. an earlier commenter wrote that these things must be mutual- I disagree. Sometimes there will be inequality in a relationship. There are different phases in a relationship- perhaps my husband is working a lot and the stress is keeping him from being 100% present in our marriage. I could get angry, or I could help him get back to a good balance. Of course, this presupposes that there always is a desire to live up to marital ideals- I believe apathy is the worst thing that can happen to a relationship
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    • Yes, I have many friends who felt “entitled” to divorce because their spouse didn’t do “their part.” That happens all the time in different marriages, and cannot be the foundation. It’s too easy to break and it sets us up for failure. One of the most wonderful parts of being married is not having to perform for my spouse to make sure he sticks around. I do stuff out of love, out of respect for God and my commitment to being married for life, regardless of how he treats his part.
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  16. Love this, especially the part about keeping all your sexual energy in the marriage. Yes, yes, yes.

    I am going to argue semantics though. “Best friend” does not mean “only close friend”. I have a best girlfriend, and a few other close friends, but the closest of all is my husband–hence, “best” friend. He’s the one who gets/has to see the deepest, most vulnerable part of me. I suspect this isn’t the only valid way to have a wonderful marriage, but it works out really well for us.

  17. As always Cory Great suggestions! I never really thought that having girlfriends would be a way to keep my marriage together. I actually thought the opposite, but I can see how it has its benefits. I’ve finally gotten out recently and made some new friends in my new town and my satisfaction with my marriage has improved. Funny how things work!
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  18. avatar
    Faith delong says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I am learning about creating that space between that you speak of, it is so true! For me that space gives room for me to really appreciate the gift of my husband, and also leave room for God to work on us without the other holding us in stuck unhealthy patterns. As a recovering codependent a little space has helped me to re-evaluate what my responsibilities are and are not, and return ready to love, “100% present” without the resentment. Thank you!

  19. Love this post. And I agree with you 100% on the friendship part. My husband was absolutely my best friend before we married 11 years ago. But I can’t bring myself to say he is now. Not that we’ve lost our friendship, but it seems like such a shallow term for the level of intimacy we now share. Whenever we begin to slide into being friends more than lovers our marriage loses a lot of passion, and it’s a lot less fulfilling for both of us. Yes, we absolutely need to spend time communicating, sharing experiences, and enjoying life together. But we do it as spouses, as lovers. Not as best friends. When we neglect nurturing our individual interests and friendships – cultivating that space between us – we suffer.

  20. Like many of the commenters, I agree with much of this post, but not ALL of it. I feel that ANY time spent with my husband is not meaningless time; I treasure every minute with him, even if we’re just near each other but not speaking or interacting. I think creating too much space wouldn’t be a good thing.

    I love the part about being 100% present in your marriage. I believe BOTH people need to be 100% committed to each other.

  21. So well put! Well timed for my life these days. I just celebrated 10 years of marriage and we have three little ones under five. We are trying to establish more space/boundaries with date nights together and time away with our friends. For us, at this stage the challenge is to not have every moment be the five of us. This means taking time to cultivate our marriage.
    I want to be present and I want to imagine the future together in all of its possibilities. I have not recently day dreamed because it is easy to get thrust into the moment of our routines.
    It is a balancing act for sure and definitely worth working at. Thanks for the post.

  22. I like the idea about being committed to the ideal of marriage. I think that’s where it’s going wrong so much. Being married isn’t all about being happy. Of course you want to be happy. You want your meal to be tasty, but sometimes it isn’t and you have to eat your way through it because it’s what you need to stay healthy!
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  23. Contrary to most of the other commenters, I 100% agre with your friendship part of the post. I’ve been in relationships where my partner expected me to be the end-all/be-all for him, the ONE who could be everything he needed. And that was WAY too much pressure. It also sucked all the romance out of our interactions. I understand going to your partner when you’re in emotional distress and expecting comfort – that I can do. But i don’t really want to know about the minutiae of your day, what you had for lunch, what your co-workers said. That’s for your friends! I want our interactions to be meaningful and free from this everyday sludge. I love the way you stated your case here and I’m now a reader of your blog!
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  24. Only wanted to claim hello there, enjoy the article!!! Hubs and also My spouse and i started out pursuing the podcast soon after hearing people on the Straightforward Mum Podcast… Congrats you do!!!

  25. Zelo dober blog, je bil vesel, da se naučijo veliko tukaj, upam, da bom lahko pogosto videti, najlepša hvala! Ne dolgo opredelila o vaši spletni strani in še vedno bere že skupaj. Predvideval sem, da bom lahko pustil svoj 1. komentar. jaz ne preveriti, kaj pravijo, razen, da sem rad bral. Lepo blog. počutje je knjižni da obiščejo to spletno stran zelo običajno.

  26. It means not doing anything that you wouldn’t do if your spouse were standing next to you, watching.

  27. I can’t see all of this content, stuff keeps hiding? Are you utilising something crazy?
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  28. avatar
    Lhen Gutierrez says:

    Hi Corey, being a fresh couple, i’m always loving your post with regards to marriage topic, i’m learning a lot! Thanks!

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