This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 200 other creative bloggers. Learn more — and join us! — by clicking here.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you probably know one of my passions is the idea that we can all define and re-define ourselves, our lives and our marriages so they make sense for us, give us joy and peace and mountains of love – even if our very personal definitions make no sense to anyone else.
That’s why I was thrilled when I learned about The Declaration of You (great book!) and this week’s Blog Lovin’ Tour Topic host, Kelly Ray Roberts.
When she says, “I believe that we get to make the rules, that we get to choose, that we get to craft the exact life that has been waiting for us. And when we do, we become fully alive.” I just want to jump up and down and say YES! To the tune of “We are family.”
We get to craft the life we want. Is wonderful and liberating and scary. Scary!?! Of course! Because now that we know we get to choose, we need to figure out HOW TO DO IT.
<Insert Massive “I have no idea” Fear Monster Here.>
So we learn. We read, we experiment. In my case, we workshop, we seminar, we study life coaching tools and read some more.
Then we discover the power of questions. Living inside questions and growing into the answers has been the most profound transformational experience of my l life. I am a huge fan of questions, so when I started pondering what makes a successful marriage, I knew some big, fluffy, question marks were in my future.
Because no two successful marriages look alike. There is no recipe that says if you have 1 date night a week and sex every Tuesday you will be happy. Maybe you want to have lots of sex (or just a little). Maybe you love Netflix dates or weekend getaways. Only you and your hubby know the exact mix of ingredients that will make your marriage not only successful but feel nourishing to your soul and inspiring to your heart.
We can even define success a thousand ways or a billion. For our purposes today I will define a successful marriage as one where you feel nurtured, have reasons to smile most days and going home to your partner is the best part of your day no matter how fascinating your life is.
However, we can all ask the same questions to discover what works for us. Here is what is currently on my checklist for a successful marriage.
Does your home feel like your sanctuary? I am inspired by beauty and order. When those things are missing I get stressed out. A stressed out wife is not a happy wife. And an unhappy wife is no use to her hubby. So that’s my answer. Maybe you love mountains of papers and piles of books. I have to admit, I never met a pile of books I didn’t like – well except for Trigonometry, but you know what I mean. When you go home, do you feel safe, protected and whole? Does your hubby? A sanctuary is a sacred place. I think home should be too.
Follow Up – what would you need to add or delete to make your home feel nurturing for both of you?
How often do you sit and talk? There is no way around this one. If you are not connecting on a daily basis with your spouse you are exchanging a soul mate for a roommate and that’s just a bad deal. Everyone loses in that transaction.
And if the only talking is about the grocery list or the car pool schedule – get thee to a date night, stat!
I once worked with an interior designer who told me she was working on a remodel for a couple who was having terrible problems in their marriage. She went to their ultra luxe condo and immediately knew why. They had set up their entire living space with no convenient places to sit and talk. They had fancy sofas too uncomfortable to actually sit in. Chaise lounges where one person could be uncomfortable while the other stood. The closest they came to a place to chat were stools at the bar. After I heard that story, the first thing I did was mentally count how many places we could sit and talk around our house. (At least 5 at last count.)
Follow Up – Are both of you happy with how often you communicate about the things you love? Does anything need to change here? If so, what and when? If it’s not on your calendar, it’s not going to happen. Schedule talking time now. And if you are already at the perfect mix of sharing – Yay You!
Are your needs being met? Physical needs, emotional needs, creative needs, I am sure there are hundreds of articles about the kinds of needs humans have to feel safe, secure, self actualized, etc. If one, or several of those are not being met, then our whole system falls down. If we feel like something is missing in our lives, it’s our duty – yes OUR DUTY, to take action, to explore what will inspire and fuel us, so we can be the best version of ourselves in our relationship to our partner. They love us, they believe in us, they want to see us happy and feeling good. We owe them as much as ourselves.
Follow Up – You can find two great resources about different types of needs here and here. And yes, scheduling time for Facebook counts as a need – filling the need for connection, community and contribution. Just like scheduling time for sports fills a need for variety, adventure and excitement. So the next time a hubby-defined “unmissable” game is on TV remember, that’s a need too.
How often do you celebrate successes? Share happy memories? Create new ones? What you focus on expands. It’s that simple. Focus on the good. As much and as often as possible.
Follow Up: Harville Hendrix has a fabulous exercise in the book, Making Marriage Simple, called the Ritual of Appreciations where you tell your honey 3 things you love and appreciate about them every day. I have my own twist on that which is to ask, “What did you love about being married today?” which is one of my “Big 7” essential questions for couples – get the whole list of those when you sign up for our LoveList which you can do on the sidebar. Remember the more good you look for every day, the more you will find!
Do you communicate from love or from fear? Communicating from love means, any answer is okay. The other person can feel accepted and acknowledged and then share openly whatever is on their mind. Any form of criticism is toxic for your marriage. Any form, including eye rolls, and foot tapping. Yes, I am watching you ;-).
Follow Up – Here are my full thoughts on declaring your marriage a No Negativity Zone. And here is a mini guide to Active Listening (which of course you will need to practice now that you are sitting and talking all the time <sneaky happy grin>).
Well wouldn’t you know it, the real truth behind a successful marriage is so juicy that I have 5 more fabulous tips for you next week. Stay tuned for part 2 next Thursday.
In the meantime, check out The Declaration of You, a book that gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! Get all the details on this inspiring and visually beautiful book here.
As you can see by all the elements of action that lead to success, reading about this stuff is AWESOME (of course!) but DOING SOMETHING is even better! Each week we have a suggestion for LoveWork – something you can take home and implement ASAP.
This week’s LoveWork is to take this sentence and finish it: For me, a Successful Marriage means…
We love comments – what came up for you as you were reading this today? These are clues to lead you to your greatest happiness and we love it when you share!
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