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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How Do You Do It? (Marriage: It Takes Two)

At the heart of any marriage are two people.  (I'm speaking for traditional marriage between two people, of course.  I don't know much about polygamous unions.)  Two people who, ideally, want to be married to each other.  During my schooling to become a marriage and family therapist, which I have not become, I learned that often people don't seek therapy together.  Frequently it's the wife who comes in looking for ways to improve her marriage.  As a young therapist I didn't think it would be proper to call up a husband and shake him over the phone, "What are you thinking?  Your wife is here, wanting to imrove your marriage, trying to save your marriage.  Where are you?  It takes two!!!"  Maybe if I were practicing now I would yell that from the hill tops...because it's the truth. 

Marriage takes two. 

Now, as a Navy wife I know that there aren't always two people available.  I also know that the military doesn't hold the deed to the world of being a single spouse.  Yes, there are a huge number of people serving in the Armed Forces who have one or even two members of their marriage deployed, on patrol, away at school...gone in some way for weeks, months, or longer at a time.  Yes, there are verying levels of contact during these times of physical distance from one another.  Some have computer contact, some phone, some letters, some nothing.  This is all true. 

There are many other vocations with similar stories, though.  Truckers are often gone for days or weeks at a time.  Salespeople may work extended hours and may have to travel further from home for training or sales opportunities.  Consultants often travel for their jobs, along with actors, sports players and others.  I'm sure you can think of people you know that have to be away from home, apart from their spouse, here and there.  Even those who work "9-5" jobs often end up working longer hours and missing dinner, at the very least.

So, now that we've established that there are all sorts of valid reasons why spouses may be separated, lets get back to how they can still have great marriages, despite being apart.  After all, it takes how many?  That's right.  Two.  Glad you're paying attention.

What do these two people have to do in order to create a healthy and happy marriage?  Well, they have to want it and work for it.  Some wedding days are grand ceremonies with hundreds of friends and family members.  Some are quick and intimate affairs.  No matter how a marriage begins, it doesn't build itself from there.  And the first step in any project, be it a term paper or a marriage, takes place in our heads.  Inside, we have to think about how we're going to act, what we're going to say, what we want for ourselves and our spouses.  All these goals start within us...and it's helpful, for a cohesive marriage, if husband and wife share these visions with each other.   After all, we can't have a marriage on our own.  (You thought I was going to say, "It takes two," didn't you?)

What are some things we should want internally and with our spouse? 
  • the best for the other
  • happiness for our spouse
  • a sparkle in their eye
  • joy in their smile
There are lot of other things you could add to the list, but you may already see a trend...marriage is not about me or even we.  If you're looking out for your spouse, and assuming they're looking out for you, you've got a great start! 

Now, if your spouse is around this is more straight forward...do things for them.  Mow the lawn when he works late.  Take the kids to the playground so she gets an hour to read in quiet.  Help with the dishes.  Get him a drink when you get your own refill.  Ask questions and listen for answers.  Little things can go a long way to show you're caring for your spouse.  Caring is good.

If you're spouse is away, and even if they're not, there's another key to wanting the best for the other...taking care of you. 

Do you feel like I'm talking in circles?  Maybe a little, but here's the deal...If you put yourself first selfishly then you're selfish.  If you take care of yourself, while keeping in mind that a better you makes a better wife, well, then it's not selfish.  Make sense?  And you can't just say it.  "I'm not being selfish...he'll get his own food if I'm not home.  I need to get my nails done because it's good for me."  That's not gonna cut it.  That's like a kid grumbling, "Sorry," to his sister after hitting her because Mom said.  If you don't mean it...it doesn't count.  So, think about it, pray about it, meditate about it, most importantly...talk to your spouse about it.  And take care of yourself, which, in turn, takes care of your spouse.  Nifty, huh?

To recap:
Marriage takes two.
Two people who want to be married.
Two people who want joy and happiness for the other.
Two people willing to take care of themselves in order to take the best care of the other.

And that's just the beginning...but it's a really good beginning! 

1 comment:

Tricia said...

I think a lot of people should read that. Because any relationship takes two, and you have pointed out the major issue with failing marriages.
One person works to keep it, and the other simply doesn't care (or seem not to).