Every married person has had hopes and dreams for their marriage. What are your dreams? Certainly on your wedding day you wanted a beautiful marriage.
A Beautiful marriage is about love. It is about sacrificial love. A love that forgives, serves, perseveres, guards, celebrates, refreshes and nurtures a marriage. This kind of love will honor your spouse, and bring joy and intimacy into the marriage. Attentive caring love for your spouse will nurture your marriage and bring you toward your dream marriage. In the book, Six Secrets to a Lasting Love, Gary Rosberg says,
“To keep anything fresh, alive, and in good order requires care, maintenance, and at times, repair. A marriage is no different. No marriage can last unless it is kept fresh and nurtured. Marriage is a dynamic love relationship between a man and a woman, and at every moment that relationship is either growing deeper and richer, or stagnating and decaying. Maintaining a lasting love means guarding a marriage against deterioration.”
Two things that are very important to a happy and lasting marriage are unconditional acceptance and positive regard.
Unconditional acceptance doesn’t mean that I am happy if the other person stays as they are for the rest of their life. Of course I hope that they change to become a better person than they are. But it means that I can be content to accept them where they are now and love them for who they are now, while hoping and praying for beautiful changes for the better in every area of their life.
On our wedding day, we probably had a very high positive regard for our spouse. Later, as we are disappointed in different areas, it can be easy to start believing that this person is more of a bad person, than a good person. It is easy to start believing the worst about another person, and then that will be mostly what we will see in that person. The reason that this change happened is that we began to focus on attitudes and behaviors that we don’t like. The person probably still has about the same amount of the things that we saw as positive qualities that we liked when we met them and same amount of things that irritate us, as when we married them. They probably haven’t changed very much. But we are mostly seeing the things that irritate us. And in reality, not all of the things that irritate us are actually bad, some of these things may actually be good qualities or neutral, but we may believe that they are bad. The big problem here, is our focus. If we can begin to put our focus back where it was before we got married, hardly noticing the things that irritate us, we will start seeing the good qualities again and start having the good feelings again. It goes back to the idea of unconditional acceptance and love. We want to be unconditionally accepted and loved, but we often do not want to offer that kind of grace to another person. We may believe that they will never want to change if we don’t point out these areas that bother us. But it doesn’t work that way. Rather, accepting and loving our spouse unconditionally, is the path to a beautiful marriage.
The reality is that living in the real world brings about Shattered Dreams and unmet expectations, there are many ups and downs in a marriage relationship, but intentionally working on your marriage can help you recapture your dream marriage. Building a beautiful marriage starts with being committed to each other and then being committed to put in some hard work that will make it a beautiful marriage. In the same way, the difference between a beautiful garden and a not so beautiful garden is the hard work that was put in to make the garden beautiful. Yes, it takes time and hard work. That’s just the way it is.
But the hard work is worth it in order to live the dream. The dream of an ultimate and fulfilling relationship. The dream that brought you together in the first place. Getting that “dream” relationship is worth the hard work. And just like working to make a beautiful garden, to have a healthy marriage means to continually be working diligently to improve our marriage. Yet, while doing that, we can at the same time be living our dream marriage. Being on the journey to a beautiful destination is exhilarating and interesting. But before we get to the place where we are even close to the dream marriage, we will need to get past some disappointments and discouragements that are part of the process of building a beautiful marriage.
No one ever has a perfect dream marriage, even though some may feel like they do have that perfect dream marriage for a few minutes right after their wedding. In reality it is a journey of growth and work. The question is, are we on the path toward the dream marriage . . . or toward disconnection and isolation? What do we want? And are we willing to do the work?
Which path are you on today?