How do you view your marriage at this moment in history? There are two ways you can view your life and therefore your marriage today.
The first filter we use is based on our imagination and dreams of the future. When Debbie and I had our first date on April 30, 1982, the future looked very promising and without any challenges or problems. She was the girl of my dreams with no flaws or issues, and she saw me as a strong and focused man ready to take on the world. We later got engaged and eventually married August 27, 1983. When we got engaged in March of 1983, we soon attended a weekend retreat to discuss our expectations of marriage and how to solve potential issues of disagreement proactively. The facilitators asked discussion questions about the importance of faith in marriage, decision making, financial control, having and raising children, etc. Some of the items we had discussed in advance, but many were topics we were discussing for the first time. There were four couples in attendance at the weekend event and two of the couples eventually got married but two of the couples broke off their engagement soon after the event ended. Two of the couples discovered that their expectations of themselves and their potential spouse had imagination & dreams but not a fact-based reality. The good news is that the two couples eventually married other partners and enjoy great marriages to this day. In marriage you need a positive view of your future with big dreams yet to be fully realized. This hope for the future will keep you growing and improving as a person and as a spouse.
The second filter we use to view our marriage is our history and experience. This approach to viewing marriage can be a two-edged sword. If we experienced a good marriage modeled by our parents, then we will have a positive view of marriage BUT if the experience is negative, we will bring that experience into our current relationship. After having been married for a season, we begin to develop our own history and memory. Sometimes it will be positive & exciting and at other times it will be filled with challenges and disappointments. The question is, “do I let the history and memory of my marriage dictate the future success of my marriage?”
Let me suggest an option that has worked for Debbie and me over the years to navigate these two views of our marriage. The first is to always have an accurate pulse of the state of our marriage. This involves a regular checkup and a yearly event we attend to evaluate our marriage. We address issues with maturity and wisdom, often getting help when we feel stuck and can’t move forward on our own. We also take time to dream about our future together and all that lays ahead in our marriage. This approach keeps us grounded in reality and also offers a compelling future and hope that keeps our marriage alive and vibrant.