Contributed by Thomas B. Holman and Abby Viveiros
What is important is to change yourself to be the kind of person you need to be to have the marriage you envisioned
My Role in Achieving My Vision of Marriage—Dealing with Fears, Making Changes
Now that you have created your vision of what you hope your marriage will become, it is time to look carefully and honestly at yourself and see how well positioned you are to have the kind of marriage you hope for. For example, as you think about your answers in the seven areas you wrote about, you should ask yourself questions like these:
- How prepared am I to be loving and loyal through good times and bad?
- How willing am I to compromise on time spent in things outside your relationship?
- How well do I communicate and how adept am I at resolving conflict?
- How much do I know about managing money, especially with another person?
- How “set” am I on who should do what in a family and how much roles “belong” to a specific gender, and what if my partner sees things differently?
- How well do I understand the role of sexuality in a great marriage? How much do I “buy into” society’s ways of seeing sex (which isn’t too healthy, by the way)?
- What capacities have I developed for dealing with life’s inevitable stresses and trials?
Right now, the most important thing is for you to be the kind of person who can have the marriage you envision. It is NOT important or even realistic either to try to find your “soul mate” who will do and be everything you need, or to try to change your current romantic partner. What is important is to change yourself to be the kind of person you need to be to have the marriage you envisioned.
To start, take a look at this list and identify items you feel apply to you.
- Do I want the kind of marriage that could last forever, even after death?
- Do I need to learn how to more easily express love?
- Do I need to develop more empathy and concern for others?
- Do I need to be more kind and considerate?
- How easy is it for me to get close to others?
- Do I push people away or jump into relationships too quickly?
- Are there things from my past I need to come to terms with that might affect my ability to form high quality and lasting relationships?
- Do I struggle with emotional, physical, or mental problems, or perhaps addictive behaviors?
- Do I need to learn ways to deal with adversity and trials better than I have in the past?
- Do I need to learn to manage money better?
- How well do I understand the place of sexuality in a life-long marriage?
- How healthy are my feelings about sex in marriage?
Do you feel anxious, afraid, maybe even overwhelmed with the thought of getting ready for the kind of marriage you envisioned? Or are you annoyed by the suggestion that you need to make some changes if you want that kind of marriage? If you’re having any of those feelings, we understand and, yes, we even expected it.
Improving yourself is hard work and can be difficult. Everyone at times feels like it’s an uphill battle to improve and sometimes we get frustrated when people suggest we need to improve because we’ve been working so hard already. We’ve all been there. We want you to know that it’s worth it to wade through the tough times, because on the other side there’s light, love, and a more enriching life.
Here is what Andy, a marriage and family therapist, thought about our recommendations:
I can speak from personal experience, I’ve had plenty of time to work on myself (I’m 33 and still not married). And I can honestly say after all of these years it’s been worth it trying to improve myself. What has helped me is that God has been there for me when I’ve invited Him and even when I wasn’t expecting it. He is the true source of strength and guidance I have received throughout my life. I know He’ll be there for others, too.
Will you make a commitment to overcome fear and inertia? Do you trust enough to keep going?
Matt, also a marriage and family therapist and who wasn’t married when he wrote this but who is now happily married, added:
I can relate to what Andy is saying. One of the great challenges of life is learning how to overcome the obstacles we create that get in the way of our lasting happiness. I often find myself doing things that hinder my ability to reach my goals in life (interesting how self-sabotaging we can be isn’t it?). Yet, I can also testify that when we put in the effort to change, to work, and most importantly, to draw upon God’s aid in our efforts to change, there is a tremendous amount of growth and satisfaction that can be ours and we can achieve the goals and vision we have for our lives.
Now let’s do some goal setting.
Write down 1-3 things you believe are important for you to deal with and change if your marriage is going to be like the one you envisioned. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Set one or more specific goals of what you will do. Something like: “I will listen and not interrupt Amanda when we get together and she wants to talk about her day. I’ll just listen and not tell her what to do.”
Where and when will you do it? Be very specific. For the “listen and not interrupt” goal above you might write: “I’ll start this goal tomorrow when we meet right after work, and do it every day this week.”
Many of the articles for Getting Fit for Marriage and others on this website can help you see how other people are changing and growing and how they set and meet goals. So read them, talk to friends, family members, and religious leaders about them, and then work hard to meet your goals. Study the Holy Scriptures and pray earnestly about the goals you’ve set. Like Andy and Matt said, God, through his Holy Spirit, will enlighten your mind and give you the strength to accomplish your goals as you do your best to live the kind of life He tells us to live in the scriptures.
Once you’ve met these goals celebrate a little! Then move on to others. Change and growth are what happiness in life is all about.
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: