Great marriages are made, they never just happen. There are Three Keys to making a great marriage. Let’s explore the second one here.
I am using the word marriage to refer to any long-term committed relationship between two people, whether it’s legal or not.
The Second Key is that we have to make room for a 3rd party in our relationship. That 3rd party is—the marriage/relationship itself.
In great relationships, couples collaborate as partners. They each take care of the marriage. A long-term committed relationship is a living thing. It thrives only when it’s understood and attended to properly.
If we fail to pass the hat regularly for our marriage, the pipe that delivers love and friendship will become smaller and smaller. And risk becoming blocked.
And so, we have to learn what a marriage is, and what it needs. A committed relationship is only as good as its ability to accurately see and communicate with itself. Good intentions alone are not enough.
We have to learn how to see ourselves and our partner accurately. To do this we need self-knowledge and an ability to communicate. The awareness that self-understanding brings, will feed and protect a marriage.
Most of us tend to reproduce, whether consciously or unconsciously, the form, style and patterns in our parents’ marriage. Usually, not a good idea. Two challenges all marriages face are power and control conflict and misunderstandings.
The best way to take care of our relationship is to develop the special ability to “process.”
Processing is an extraordinary way to communicate. A marriage that lacks the ability to “process what’s going on” is like a car without lights, brakes and a steering wheel.
If two people know how to process, they can free themselves from the forces that drive conflict and misunderstanding.
Let me illustrate: Imagine that you and your partner are driving a good distance to a family gathering. You both got a late start. And the traffic is worse than you expected.
You’re both grumpy and on edge. You fall into nastiness with each other. Hurtful comments and complaints go back and forth. You are flirting with “The Big Battle.”
Suddenly you both SEE what’s happening. And you pull into a rest area and park. Facing each other you move from adversaries to collaborators.
And you process. That is, you step outside the conflict. And as a team you review what’s happening with awareness. And so, with understanding and respect for each other.
Then you can break free from unnecessary conflict and so protect your relationship from needless adversarial wear and tear.