5 Keys To A Joy Filled Marriage

On April 9, 2017 my wife and I celebrated our 15th year wedding anniversary. To celebrate we decided to take a 10-day Mediterranean cruise. It was an amazing experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

After our cruise I spent some time reflecting on our marriage and how wonderful it is to share my life with someone who I truly love and appreciate. As I reflected on our marriage that is currently so rewarding and fulfilling, I started thinking about my first marriage, which unfortunately wasn’t so wonderful. As I was reliving my first marriage in my mind I begin asking myself why my first marriage didn’t work out and yet my second marriage was all that I’ve dreamed a marriage could be.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that one of the reasons my first marriage failed was because I was trapped in what a “traditional” marriage was supposed to be like. In retrospect, I realized that I was simply following a culturally created script of what marriage was supposed to be like and this script was actually an over romanticized media generated fantasy that was actually out of touch with reality. In other words, I had gotten married for all the wrong reasons because I was following the “traditional” script of what a marriage was supposed to be.

After spending some extensive time thinking about the differences between my two marriages I decided to share the five most important things I’ve learned that have helped me create a beautiful spiritual partnership with the woman who is absolutely perfect for me. My hope is that these keys will inspire you to create your own loving and fulfilling relationship/marriage.

So if you’re truly ready to create a loving and fulfilling marriage lets get started.

Here are the 5 keys that will lay the foundation for you to create the relationship/marriage of your dreams.

  1. Unpack your emotional baggage

It’s been documented that the average wedding in the US costs between 5 and 20 thousand dollars. Traditionally, its been set up that we make this huge investment in our weddings to show how much we love our spouses. But is this true? Does the amount of money we spend on a wedding have anything to do with the marriage itself? If you really stop and think about it the answer is a resounding NO! Traditionally, weddings have been set up to try and impress our family and friends. In reality, they in no way enhance our marriages. As a matter of fact, I would argue that they actually add stress to the marriage because of the financial, emotional and psychological stress they create. If you truly want to enhance your marriage let me suggest that you make an investment in unpacking your emotional baggage.

Let me explain what I mean.

After my divorce the first words out of my mouth were: “I’ll never get married again.” The reason I said this was because of the emotional pain I felt as a result of my divorce. At the time, I couldn’t identify this pain but I unconsciously began building a wall around my heart that would protect me from experiencing that pain again. After several months the pain subsided and I decided to attempt to at least develop a relationship with someone. Each of my relationships after my divorce was a disaster. They would usually last about three weeks and they would all end with the woman saying, “I care too much about you to stay in this relationship.” This made absolutely no sense to me. How could you care about someone and leave him or her at the same time?

After noticing a pattern in my relationships I finally recognized that I was the only common denominator in all of them and I decided that I was the problem, not the women in my life. I then made a commitment to myself that I was going to figure out how to create a great relationship and I knew that I had to look at myself first. I then committed to unpacking my emotional baggage and by far it was the best decision of my life. It began with my willingness to go to therapy and to pinpoint some traumatic events from my childhood that were actually affecting my life as an adult. I learned that I had a deep fear of abandonment, which kept me from trusting anyone out of fear that they would leave me. This was my deepest emotional wound. By healing this wound it allowed me to learn to trust again and the walls around my heart began to fall. By making the emotional and financial investment to unpack my emotional baggage it allowed me to create the space for true love to come into my life and that is the primary reason that my current marriage works. So the first step in creating a great relationship/marriage is to break tradition and make the investment (emotional and financial) in yourself to make sure that you aren’t carrying any baggage that will keep you from loving someone or being loved by someone.

  1. Define your personal values and know your non-negotiables

When I got married the first time I had no idea what my true values were. As I mentioned, I was simply following a societal script that said as a man I was supposed to be married. I had no idea what was truly important to me in terms of qualities and values in a woman. I have since learned that it is important to identify what your core values are and what your non-negotiable attributes are in a relationship. Here are six values that you must share with a potential partner if you want to create a relationship/marriage that is loving and fulfilling.

Family, Money, Health, Spirituality, Sex and Ambition. Make sure that you are clear on how you feel about each of these values and make sure that your partner shares those same values.

The next thing you must do is come up with a list of 3-5 non-negotiable things that you are unwilling to compromise. This should not be a long drawn out list but it has to be a list of things that you are absolutely unwilling to compromise. Only you know what those things are but it’s important that you identify them before you enter into a relationship.

For example, I would never date someone who smoked. It was non negotiable for me. So when I went on a first date that was one of the first questions I asked. If the person said yes I would know that I didn’t want to date that person. I definitely believe in compromising in relationships. But I also know there are some things that I would never ever compromise. So you must decide what are your non-negotiables and make sure that you never compromise them.

  1. Let go of traditional roles and responsibilities in the relationship/marriage

Traditionally we fall victim to certain roles in marriage and relationships. For a very long time men were taught that our primary roles were to provide and protect. So we followed tradition and found jobs to provide for our families and promised to protect our families from any type of threat that may have showed up in our lives. Women were taught that they were the nurturers and homemakers and they embraced those roles until the feminist movement started and women decided that they wanted to be treated as equals and all of a sudden all the roles begin to change.

If you truly want to create a marriage that works you are going to have to let go of some antiquated roles and embrace the idea that marriage is a spiritual partnership between two equals in which both parties agree that they are a team and neither one is above the other. As a team, they work together in all ways to insure that their partnership is connected and intimate. It should be a place where each person feels safe and secure to be who they truly are and they are showered with love, appreciation and acceptance.

As a team, it doesn’t matter who brings home the bacon, cooks the dinner or cleans the house. It doesn’t matter who clothes the kids, pays the bills, or files the taxes. It only matters that each team member is willing to do his or her part in insuring that the team always wins. This is one of the reasons why my current marriage works. My wife and I have a partnership and we always work together to insure that our team wins.

  1. Listen to your heart and love who you choose to love

I recently watched a beautiful movie titled Loving which was based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving who were an interracial couple that ended up going to the supreme court to strike down anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia in 1967. They won the landmark case, which opened the door for all people to marry regardless of race in America. The movie reminded me just how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go in regards to race in this country. If the Loving’s had listened to tradition they would have never been together. But instead, they chose to listen to their hearts and created a beautiful love affair and marriage.

Unfortunately there are still people who may disagree with interracial marriage and dating. They are locked into the “tradition” that only people of the same race should be together. And of course this isn’t just about race. There are some people who disagree with people of different religions being together. There are others who do not believe people of the same gender should be together.

So what about you? What do you believe?

For me it’s pretty simple. Love transcends race, religion or sexual orientation. Human beings are all the same. What’s on the inside definitely transcends what you see on the outside. Feelings are the language of the soul and the soul has no ethnicity. The external traditional labels that society has created do not define who a person truly is. It is their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions that define them and that’s what human beings fall in love with. It’s who they are, not what they are, that connects us.

If you are trapped in the traditional way of thinking, there is the possibility that you will miss out on the opportunity to love and be loved, so break tradition and love who you choose to love. Trust your own heart not traditions.

  1. Make your marriage top priority in your life

One of the reasons my first marriage failed was because I unknowingly did not make it a priority. I was unaware of this at the time but I thought by being a good husband, providing for my family and loving my kids my marriage would work out. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marriage takes conscious effort. We must be willing to gain the emotional and psychological tools that allow us to create emotional and spiritual connections with our partners.

Traditionally in marriage if there are challenges we may go to church and speak with ministers to help us get through the tough times. Although I have no problem with this, I have learned that sometimes religion is the actual problem. Religion has passed down some traditional roles that can actually be detrimental to a great marriage. I remember speaking with a minister when I was contemplating getting a divorce from my first wife and the response from the minister was to simply pray about it and God would fix it.

Needless to say that didn’t work. I ended up getting divorced and God couldn’t fix it.

But I could. I then decided to take complete responsibility for my happiness and I decided that I was going to figure out how to create a lifelong love affair. I let go of all the traditional antiquated ideas of what marriage was supposed to be and I chose to create a marriage on my own terms. In doing so I ended up creating a soul mate relationship and a spiritual partnership that nurtures and supports me in every way.

If I can do it, so can you. To do so you must break tradition and follow your heart .

Are you willing to do that?

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