An excerpt from the Coaching for Calm and Confidence™ Program
Dating is a unique period of time during which we are focused on the other person. There are behaviors that go along with this other-centered perspective. We are selfless, generous, eager to learn about the other person, patient, forgiving. Whatever qualities existed in your relationship when you were dating represent the potential your marriage has now. Think about how great that would be. You had it once; you can have it again.
Relationships are dynamic. We are either moving together or we are moving apart. Happy marriages are made up of a collection of choices. Frequently in marriages, we drift away from the positive choices we made while we were dating. We drift perhaps because we get comfortable, complacent, or distracted by other demands. We also drift because selfishness can be subtle and we might justify it to ourselves by saying things like, “well don’t I have a right to….?” As we drift away from these positive choices we tend to more easily notice negative qualities in our spouse and to overlook our own faults. It is human nature to think first about ourselves. If we allow this tendency to govern our behavior our actions will be selfish.
Think about selfish qualities in a person. These qualities are very unattractive, which explains why marriages drift apart when we become self-focused. On the other hand, selflessness and other-centeredness is very attractive.
Just like there is a job description that goes along with parenting, there is a job description that goes along with marriage. Here it is: It is to convince the other person that you love them and that they are easy to love. When you approach marriage in this way, this job description as I call it isn’t even work. It is enjoyable and comfortable and something we choose to do every day, just like dating was. We just need to make a conscious choice to engage in these actions since the drift of human nature is towards our self and away from our spouse.
The most effective way to convince the other person that you love them and that they are easy to love is to tell them. Comment frequently on attractive qualities of your spouse and reasons why you love them. Remember, if we choose to look for what is bad, we will find the bad; if we choose to look for what is good, we will see the good. Again, think about when you were dating answer these questions. What qualities in your spouse did you fall in love with? What qualities in your spouse made you want to spend the rest of your life with this person? What qualities do you love now? Actually answer these questions. Now, make a choice to tell your spouse what you love about them.