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.
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.
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
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?