Love & Marriage Anyone?

David Burliuk, "Marriage Proposition"

I’ve got 88 posts on Attachment Mama now and just one other is on marriage with small children. Dang.

We recently had a wake-up call to the critical importance of giving our relationship the same tender loving care that we work diligently to maintain for our children. After months of exponentially increasing stress levels, well…let’s just say our partnership felt like it was unraveling a bit.

So despite the unfortunate requirement of even more time that the girls must be separated from their parents — we committed to participate in a 2-day Imago relationship workshop this past weekend to give more extended attention to our marriage than we have in over three years. Ten hours on Saturday; nine hours on Sunday.  Our goal — to create a conscious marriage with intentional, healthy communication.

Here’s a few highlights of what we learned — which was a ton — that I hope will serve you as well.

  • The unconscious purpose of marriage is to finish childhood.  This is why your partner chose you — to resolve what he/she didn’t get from his/her parents. Here’s the unbelievably challenging piece to this.  You must change to give your partner what he/she needs because you are likely repeating parental behaviors.
  • Conflict with your partner is a good thing. What?!  Yes.  When our partner is in conflict with us, they become an agent for our personal growth.  The idea is to learn how to better communicate through conflict versus try to get rid of it.
  • One of the keys to expressing anger in a healthy way is to come to an agreement to only do so through an appointment.  In other words, if you get triggered and your knee jerk reaction would be to throw eye darts and a few verbal slams — resist!  Go take a walk, chop the veggies for dinner with vigor, move the energy in some way and then request a time to talk later when you can approach the issue using the “Mirror, Validate, Empathize” approach I wrote about in a Healthy Conflict Resolution post.
  • Ways to re-romanticize your relationship:
  1. Ask your partner to write a list of things that you do that leave him/her feeling loved and cared for and you do the same. Including anything past or present. Exchange lists and commit to gifting each other with a caring behavior every day.
  2. Make a list of fun things that you’d like to do together including face-to-face, physically vigorous and emotionally intense and commit to making time once a week to do them.
  3. Make a list of your partner’s physical characteristics, personality traits, behaviors and overall wonderfulness that you adore and flood them with this in whatever way they would appreciate and hear it most — high energy, soft and sweet, etc.
  4. Create a relationship vision together in which you map out your ideal relationship and then begin to live into it.  What do you feel toward each other? How do you relate to one another?  What is your sex life like?  How do you relate to your children and how do they relate to you?  How do you resolve conflict? How do you play together?

The way to get closer to the ideal relationship we all have in our minds essentially comes one day at a time with conscious practice.  I tried not to slump into a depression when our fabulous instructor said it usually takes couples 3-6 years to fully adopt conscious communication practices.

But we’re practicing!  And eventually we’ll get there.

Love to you and yours!

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3 Responses to “Love & Marriage Anyone?”

  1. Mom says:

    Sounds like a wonderful workshop! I’m so glad you went.

  2. Reggie says:

    Thank you v much for this, forwarding it to my hubby.. we really need this.

    • Monica says:

      I haven’t heard from anyone that marriage is easy — and particularly not during the early years of parenting. For 15 minutes most nights now we’re practicing the communication exchange learned in the workshop of mirroring, validating and empathizing — it’s going to take a while to fully incorporate it into our daily interactions. I look forward to that day though b/c I think it will create a whole new sense of trust between us that we can talk about anything without walking on eggshells.

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