Lucky four-leaf clovers are popping up a lot this month along with that elusive pot of gold. Some folks think luck is what it takes for a marriage to thrive. But if you’ve been married more than a few years, you know much more goes into a good marriage than luck. A great relationship takes dedication and that scary word – WORK. This is the good kind of work though, the kind that brings life-long rewards. Don’t you find that anything worthwhile takes work? Those washboard abs don’t just magically appear and a successful business doesn’t grow by itself. Many hours of blood, sweat, and tears go into these endeavors. Sounds a little like marriage doesn’t it?
Marriages progress through several predictable stages. I’ll cover the three most important ones today. The first is the Romantic Stage - when everything feels right and it’s so easy to be together. You want to be with each other all the time because you feel like you’re home at last. In this stage you minimize things you dislike about your partner. This is where that initial bonding occurs, the bonding that helps to sustain the relationship through difficult times.
There is a normal and natural progression to the next stage, which is the Power Struggle Stage. I emphasize normal and natural because most couples are stunned as they watch their magical union morph into a “night at the fights.” This is when the initial euphoria of finding each other gives way to anger and disillusionment as you start to notice all the little things that annoy you about your partner - his snoring, her messiness. Sadly, many marriages either end at this stage or “white knuckle it” and figuring this is “as good as it gets”.
The good news - there’s another option. It’s the third stage called the Conscious Love Stage. This is the stage when you decide to consciously and intentionally create the kind of relationship you both desire. I call it the “Make-it-Happen” Stage – where you become proactive rather than reactive to each other. You start to build a foundation for your relationship and discover that what you share is more solid than fleeting feelings. In this stage you make a decision to see your relationship as a healing journey. The reward is an authentic relationship filled with excitement and passion.
Creating this masterpiece takes skill, but how do you hone this fine craft? You practice, practice, practice - until it becomes second nature. You develop and practice new habits of loving connection until they become your new “normal”. You wouldn’t practice playing the piano when you want to get great at golf. So why would you practice fighting, bickering, and arguing when you want a great relationship? Practice what you want, not what you don’t want. If you want a loving relationship, you have to practice being loving - then let the fun begin! Start reaping those sweet rewards as you forge ahead with determination toward this wonderful new relationship you are creating together.
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