Relationships can be difficult and messy, and marriage is no exception to the rule. We might fool ourselves into thinking our marriage has nothing to do with leadership/success. On the contrary, it is everything. Nothing will undermine our effectiveness faster than a bad marriage.
Unfortunately, we live in a very self-centered culture. Spouse frustration stems from the fact we are not getting what we think we need or deserve. Of course, there is nothing wrong with voicing our needs. However, demands without generosity quite simply lead to unmet needs.
Before my husband and I got married, we had to attend a marriage class. To this day, I remember our Pastor’s words, “Make deposits in each other’s emotional banks…you do not want to be overdrawn in this account” (I think he repeated it again for the husbands, just sayin). We all chuckled a little, but somehow those words have always lingered.
The Golden Rule is not just for our children to use on the playground. It is a truth to be used throughout our lives, especially in marriages. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”(Matthew 7:12) Few words loaded with a life-changing message, just think how uncomplicated life would be if everyone followed this simple guideline.
As we think about strengthening our relationships, what key components would you look for in a friend? Here are a few I brainstormed:
- Hold me accountable to be the best version of myself.
- Be real with me when no one else will.
- Don’t bring shame or guilt to me.
- Trust that you are speaking well of me when I am not around.
- Extend forgiveness when I take my bad day out on you.
- Remind me of my good qualities when insecurity sneaks in.
- Celebrate successes together.
- Listen without judgment.
- Give me the benefit of the doubt.
- Offer unconditional love when anger clouds my thinking.
When we think about the qualities we desire in friendships, I believe we are looking for the same characteristics in our marriages. I truly love to see more mature couples taking a walk together, going to the store together, or sitting next to each other in their favorite church pew. These dear people have made an intentional effort to build a friendship with their spouse. They fought the good fight and persevered when life threw some ugly curveballs. Sharing common interests and making deposits in the emotional bank have brought lasting happiness.
The saying goes, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” Some of us can verify the side receiving the water displays the most growth. Delicate flowers and yards need to be nurtured and cared for. Friendships and marriages are the same. The key is to be consistent and keep at it during episodes of drought.
A solid foundation provides several successes in life. When it comes to our marriage, may the characteristics we desire in friendship portray the reflection in our own mirror.
If you are in a place right now where this all sounds great, but is not real life for you, don’t despair. Life can be filled with hope when we believe the best and stay meaningfully involved in our dearest relationships.
Be Real ~ Be You!