Keeping a Marriage Growing
Marriages grow stale when both partners aren’t growing. But I believe this can be helped if both husband and wife are willing to grow and change. But how does that happen? Spouses deny who they really are---in order to be liked. Growing psychologically means that you are willing to say, “God made me this way. I am a worthwhile person.”
People often ask me, “How am I supposed to appreciate myself if I don’t know who I am or where my special abilities are?” Taking inventory is a good first step.
1. First list the things you like. Start with your favorite style of music, along with the kind of books and magazines you like to read. Make sure you don’t list particular songs or books just because they are popular. You might think, “Well, I ought to like this artist or this author.” If you fall into that trap, you won’t discover who you are as a unique person..
Make a similar list dealing with your preferred clothing styles. Again, we’re not talking about what is in style. Write down what kind of clothes make you feel “This is the real me.”
Then list the friends you really enjoy spending time with. Identify their characteristics and qualities that nourish you, don’t think in terms of obligation: “I ought to like that person because he/she is my first cousin.”
Make lists about everything you like in your life, your work, neighborhood, art, movies, and food. Don’t allow other people’s opinions influence what you write down. You are looking within yourself to understand your God-given uniqueness.
2. Now make a list of all your favorite activities, whether serious or frivolous. List recreational activities you enjoy> but also things like watering the plants or watching the sun set. And forget traditional roles. If you are a man who enjoys doing needlepoint or a woman who feels good after changing the oil in the car, then write it down.
3. Also make a list of all the things you can do well your abilities ad strengths. Include your education, positive experiences and opportunities. And write down the things that your friends say you do well, these help give a total picture of yourself.
4. Follow that list with another one that includes all the things you want to do before you die. Allow yourself to “dream the impossible dream.”
After you have finished writing, try to detach yourself and ask, “Who is this person? How would I describe him or her? What kind of things does he or she like? “What does he or she really value in life?” Knowing who you are is part of developing a healthy self-esteem. The next part is to affirm who you are. Say to yourself, “These things are good.”
Now live out the things that are on your lists. Begin to become the person you have just defined. The more accurately you live as the person God has created you to be, the more confident and effective you will be.
Marriages that stay together over the long haul are composed of two people who are growing in all areas of their lives. Growing becomes a pan of the glue that holds them together. They are not the same old people with the same old problems. They are continuing to improve and mature, and this growth gives both of them hope. You can keep the sparkle m your marriage as you continue to change and grow.