New Decade, Renewed Marriage
- Dr. David B. Hawkins Director, Marriage Recovery Center
- 2010 25 Jan
We are well into a new year, a new decade and the possibilities for a new life. For many a new year, and especially a new decade, notes a time of ideas, dreams and yes, resolutions. Undoubtedly you've already reflected upon your life, and perhaps you spent time considering what you'd like in your marriage as well.
What aspects of your life would you like to be radically different? If you want the next decade to be a time of renewal for your marriage, I have good news for you. It's possible.
Creating a new marriage may seem quite fanciful to some of you. Perhaps stuck in relational drift for many years, you cannot imagine anything different. You've been doing the same things and getting the same results for a long time. You've been relating in the same ways and now are really ready for something new, something dynamic, something vibrant. But, for as much as you'd like a marriage filled with exciting communication, delightful affection and emotional sensitivity, it seems beyond your grasp.
What if I told you it was not beyond your grasp? What if I told you regardless of what the naysayers report, one person can dramatically impact their marriage? You can be the impetus that begins a powerful change process. That would be great news, I'm sure.
As with any change, however, action must be taken. Things don't improve—we improve them. Wishing and hoping, and sometimes even praying, aren't enough. We must put action to our dreams and desires. Here are some thoughts on how you can provide the impetus for bringing about change in your marriage.
First, take an inventory of your marriage. The new year is a great time to reflect upon your life. How would you rate your marriage? Is it alive and vibrant, evoking passion and love? Or, have you drifted into a place of boredom, resentment and bitterness? Be honest with yourself about your marriage, and especially your part in the state of your marriage.
Second, change cannot occur with passivity. While you can change your marriage, you must take action. Passivity enables your relationship to stay exactly the same. In fact, passivity allows relational drift to continue, often even spiraling downward. Everything you do, or don't do, to keep things exactly the way they are enables a destructive process. You must identify the condition of your marriage, determine what you want to change, and set goals for your relationship. It begins with you!
Third, invite your mate into this active change process. While your mate may not lead the way, and certainly will not respond positively to coercion and anger, they will likely respond favorably if they experience the benefits of an exciting change process. Using liberal doses of encouragement, they will see the benefits of increased communication, greater emotional and physical contact, more adventure and varied experiences.
Fourth, emotions are contagious. Called emotional contagion, studies show that positive emotions rippling through, are "caught" and can change a relationship. Just as happy people tend to congregate with other happy people, being a happy mate makes you more attractive to your spouse. Moods such as cheerfulness and irritability have been shown to be quickly passed along in a marriage. Therefore, it is critical to be an optimistic mate, sharing your vision for a wonderful marriage. Your emotional optimism will resonate through your marriage and create momentum for positive change.
Fifth, dream new dreams for your marriage. If you cannot dream new possibilities, you will have difficulty achieving them. Risk believing in old-fashioned values such as "true love," "soul mates" and "being lovers." Imagine what these ideals would look like in your marriage. Sit with your mate and watch some old movies where love prevails, people care deeply for one another and romance is championed. Stir your passions and invite your mate to have their passions stirred with yours.
Sixth, create an environment where love can flourish. Create the time and space, as well as the intentionality, for love to blossom. Plan new adventures, see new sights, take up new hobbies together. Explore new ideas that will invigorate your relationship and spark your senses. Pursue these visions together and watch your marriage grow into what you always knew could exist.
Finally, God is for you and your marriage. The Lord wants your marriage to be alive and wonderful. He empowers us to create an environment where love flourishes. Scripture tells us, "I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don't you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land." (Isaiah 43:19)
Are you ready for a new marriage in 2010? Please share your ideas with me at [email protected].
Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.