Creating the Forever Mindset

Following on from my last post I thought I’d share some practical tips on creating the FOREVER mindset:

1. Have a marriage health check

No, I’m not talking about going to the doctors for that continual itch in your jocks (though you probably should have that seen to)! I’m talking about having an honest look at where your marriage is at. Are there walls that have been built up because you think something is missing from your marriage? For example; do you have a sense of entitlement about things? Are you withholding love or conversation? Perhaps not serving your spouse because you think you’re owed something? Are you spending enough time getting to know each other? Learning about this person who has ever changing goals, fears and passions. The person you married way back when may be a very different person today. Re-acquaint yourself with that person.

2. Create an environment of intimacy

Remember those days when you were dating, and the phone calls lasted for hours the dates were non-stop full of chatter, laughter, conversation and thought provoking discussion? In a marriage, intimacy isn’t just about the sexual union, but rather intimacy is about sharing your thoughts, emotions, weaknesses and passions, as well as your body. As many have said before, there’s a reason it’s pronounced; into-me-see. Learn to be vulnerable with the things that you are holding too close to your chest. Most importantly make time to share these with each other. Turning the TV off, taking the phones/laptops out of the room and going for walks really helps us. Going for walks in particular seems to work really well. We’ve actually found that we share more in a 30 minute walk than in an hour or two of sitting around the house. Try it!

3. Creating the FOREVER mindset

For Dave and I there have been times when throwing in the towel seemed like the easy option. However early in our marriage we decided to accept the ‘forever mindset’. This means that you acknowledge that as ugly or as hard as things may look, somehow you’re both are going to make this work. Although it may sometimes feel you’re married to a complete stranger, somehow you will find a way to fall in love all over again. That no matter what happens, through thick and thin, you’re in this together. When you create that mindset, you’re left with only two other options: 1) be happy or 2) be unhappy. When you both choose happiness you’ll make the tough calls and push through the tough times and rediscover a place of genuine love for each other.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There are many reasons why couples don’t seek advice; some think their problems are irreparable and can’t see the point, others think getting help means they’ve failed or their marriage is in serious trouble. Neither are correct though. If we’re honest, none of us have all the answers. There’s some truth in the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”. That’s why I’d encourage anyone who feels like their marriage could be better to seek advice from professionals and mentors. Best of all they’ll be able to give you personalized advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, often all we need is a guide to help us navigate our way through it.

These are just some of the things that have helped Dave and I get through the first five years. While it definitely hasn’t been without its share of struggles we’re stoked that forever is yet to come! I hope they help and encourage you in your own marriage journey.
What things are you doing to create the FOREVER mindset in your marriage?

Five years of Forever

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

– Mignon McLaughlin

Dave and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary the other week. Like any moment worth celebrating, it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the time we have spent together. Reflecting on what we did right, what we did wrong and where we are going.  Above all, one thing really stood out to Dave and I: WE MADE IT!

As anyone whose been married that long will tell you, it’s no small feat.

Looking at those who have been married for sixty plus years, I wonder what they went through to get there. My parents, who have been married for thirty-two years, have endured many tough times and despite it all are still together. Not just the “grit your teeth and bear it” together but “we could do that thirty-two years all over again and hope for thirty-two more” together. It’s inspiring, and importantly: THEY MADE IT!

It’s sad to say but amongst our friends there’s been a huge increase in the number of our friends who are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. All were married for less than five years, some less than three. I’m not just talking one or two couples, but rather twelve couples. That’s right, twelve. Most under thirty years of age. It’s upsetting that it has come to that point for so many people and my heart feels desperately sad for them. Some of the separations were through mutual agreements and for others, one party has decided that they can’t go on. Either way, I know how deeply it has affected everyone involved myself included.

Looking at society in general; celebrities, people of influence, friends, family and even the church, it’s easy to see divorce as normal. Almost all who get divorced appear to have a ‘valid’ reason for the separation. If I’m honest there have been times in our marriage where I have thought that I have a valid reason for leaving. I would rationalize: “It’s definitely not me, it’s Dave. He doesn’t talk to me the way he used to. We have just grown apart. He has pursued the business thing and he doesn’t have that much time for a marriage as well. I don’t think I’m attracted to him like I used to be.” For me these thoughts and mindsets that crept in came down to one thing.

Selfishness.

Plain and simple. Now that may be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but it’s the truth. For me, I didn’t view my marriage as Dave and I united. Nor was I thinking; how can I put Dave first? Rather, it was “what is in this for me?”, and “Im not getting it, so I won’t give it”. If you ask Dave he’d tell you he was thinking similar things. The point is we were both hurting and both of us felt like we were owed something.

When I realized this, I was then able to take this to God and Dave and ask for forgiveness. When both parties are hurt one of you needs to step up and break the stalemate. Each day I need to lay my relationship with Dave at God’s feet. It’s when I start to think that I can do this “married thing” in my own strength that I become selfish and unstuck.

So what is it that gets a couple to five, ten, twenty or sixty years happily married? Is it simply being unselfish? Well that’s definitely part of it, though you’ll always catch yourself being selfish at times. As Dave and I were talking about all this, we pin pointed one thing: Our mindset of marriage is FOREVER. Not until it doesn’t suit us any more, or while ever the other person is meeting my needs, or until it gets too hard. Rather through the good times and bad, through sickness and in health, ’til death do us part. Remember those words on your wedding day? Yep, we swore an oath to do that.

Now I don’t say that to condemn those that have chosen separation. My point is that for those who are married or considering marriage; you need to approach every conflict, argument or disagreement with the FOREVER MINDSET. This mindset requires that no matter what, divorce isn’t an option for resolving your conflict. Of course I’m aware that things like abuse and infidelity can make resolution difficult, if not impossible, but most couples don’t start there. When you think in terms of forever you’re forced to get creative and break out of your comfort zone. After all, who wants to live unhappily ever after?

Do you have the forever mindset in your marriage?

In a subsequent post I’ll share with you some practical ways you can create it in your marriage.