Successful Marriage Installment #1 -How to Make your Good Marriage, Great!

successful marriageDo you have a good marriage? Would you like to make it even better?  If you already have a good marriage and would like to take steps to make it even more of a successful marriage, you’re in the right place.

While most couples have their challenges, believe it or not, there are those out there that are not in crisis. They may have already worked on their relationship or they could just be generally easygoing people. Whatever the case is, there is always room to grow and enrich your marriage, making it the most successful relationship you’ve ever had.

Marriage enrichment is often overlooked as we are so busy doing triage for those relationships that are falling apart, but it is no less important. This e-course, Successful Marriage – How to Make your Good Marriage, Great! will teach you five things you can do to make your good marriage great. We are going to stick with positive actions you can take and will not dwell on relationship theory 101 or how to deal with conflict. You can find much of that information by downloading the Jewish Marriage Book, subscribing to the e-course What if my spouse isn’t interested- 6 things you can do to create a happy marriage with an unwilling partner, or attending a marriage seminar.  What you’re about to read right now is information that will be helpful to those that already have a successful marriage.

Couples with a successful marriage are some of my favorite couples to work with. You may be young, optimistic, committed, and eager to learn.  I think you will find this course fun and I have no doubt you will succeed!

The first thing you can do to make your good marriage great is to develop your relationship vision.  A relationship vision provides you a roadmap of where you would like to go with your marriage.  Not only will it help you reach your destination, it will help you focus your energy to get there. Even in the most successful marriages, couples put their relationship on autopilot and assume the relationship will take care of itself. If you are reading this course, you probably realize that you will not achieve your highest goals for the most successful marriage unless you are in the driver’s seat of your relationship.

You can take responsibility for your relationship by plotting your destination towards having a successful marriage. Here is where things get interesting. Part of the fun of being married is that you are two different people who may have two different sets of hopes and dreams. It is important that you both have a chance to get your ideas out on the table and become conscious of your goals. While many may overlap, it is important to acknowledge what you both want even if there are differences.

I will tell you that this exercise can be scary for some couples. What if our visions are different? Does that mean we shouldn’t be married? I am never a fan of second-guessing a marriage especially as I believe there are very good reasons why you got married, whether you are aware of them or not. Most couples will be surprised that their visions will be much more similar than they thought. If they look close enough, ask questions, and clarify, they will find that many of the differences are semantic at best.  You will see what I mean after you do the exercise.

Now is the chance for you to dream. Dream as big as you wish for your successful marriage and get excited to hear spouse’s vision.

An Exercise: Craft your vision of your very own Successful Marriage

On two separate sheets of paper, both you and your spouse will write your personal relationship vision. Entitle the page “ My Relationship Vision.”  You will do this by writing a positive, descriptive, and specific sentence. Instead of the negative, “we do not fight”, put down the positive, “we get along together in a loving relationship.” Vision has a magnetic power that draws people to it. As opposed to focusing on what we don’t want and investing our energy in moving away from the past,  let us shift our attention to what we want.  This helps us move towards manifesting the most successful relationship for ourselves with greater ease than getting stuck in our fears or our old way of being.  Vision pulls us to something positive instead of leaving negativity.

Another important point is that the vision should be formulated in the present tense. As opposed to saying “we will be happy”, write “we are happy.” When we formulate the vision in the present tense, we act on the Divine clock where there is no distinction between past, present, and future. The future is here and now. Our dream relationship for the most successful marriage is before our eyes at this very moment.  When we think of it this way, we can actually live it as opposed to waiting for it.

Once you have constructed your vision statements, using a separate line for each sentence, begin to rank the items according to relative value/importance to you by writing a number on the left column of the paper. On the right column rank items according to difficulty. Finally, circle the two most valuable items to your vision.

Finding Your Mutual Vision

When you are both done, read each other your visions and note which items you have in common.  Now, you are ready to create your shared relationship vision! On one piece of paper, write the title “Our Relationship Vision.” Write down the four circled items (two from each of your personal visions). This is followed by writing down all of the mutually agreed upon items. Draw a line after the mutually agreed upon items and write down all of the other items that you had listed. You are almost there!

Label the left and right columns of that sheet with your names (one name on each side) and individually rank each of the sentences with a value from 1-5 with 5 being the highest value.  Each of you will put a check by the two most difficult to achieve.

Checking Your Progress

Once you are finished, post your relationship vision in a place where you will be able to see it. Take a moment every day to glance at it and/or spend a few minutes every Shabbos to read it together. Are your relationship choices and actions in line with that vision? Do you feel yourself moving towards that vision? Merely reading the vision on a regular basis can help create a shift in a relationship and move it in a positive direction. It will make you more conscious about what you really want. It also provides encouragement that you are making progress in achieving your vision.

You can’t imagine how surprised one of my couples was to see that eight months after they had written out their relationship vision, they had achieved everything on their list, except for financial goals. While the vision helped set the wheels in motion, they also spent months working on their relationship.What a successful marriage it was for the both of them!

For a vision to become a reality, and not an illusion, an action plan must be put into effect. Besides the clear goals or specific statements of the relationship vision, an objective, or concrete measurable behavior which you must engage in to reach those goals, is needed.

The next step is to formulate a strategy for executing the objective, determining who will do what and when. If your objective to achieve the goal of  “ we spend quality time together” is to eat out at a restaurant, the strategy would detail how often you go out and  who is responsible for making the reservations, etc.  In order to increase motivation, it is helpful to visualize the sensory effects of the goal: what it looks, sounds, feels, smells, and taste like as well as the emotion you will experience upon reaching that goal. Finally, think or write down the positive consequences/payoff of that goal.

Let’s summarize what you learned in Successful Marriage Installment #1-  5 things you can do to Make your Good Marriage, Great!

–          The importance of the relationship vision in providing direction to achieve your goal of having the MOST successful marriage

–          How a vision moves you in the right direction and allows you to actualize it in the present

–          The importance of reflecting regularly on your vision and taking concrete behavioral steps to achieving it.

I’m Looking forward to sending you the next installment of this course.

As always, if you have any questions, contact me to begin working on creating your own successful marriage.