Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Healthier marriages
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
We recently got a new puppy, a Golden doodle named “Goldee,” and immediately we went about securing the yard and “puppy-proofing” the house so that she would be protected.
As cute as a little ball of curls, she is innocent, curious, playful … and it is our job to keep her safe! Some of those extremes we went to in order to keep her safe were not cheap … but oh, so worth it!
Here is the truth: We protect the things, people, situations in our lives that we deem important. It is human nature, borne out of compassion, love, sensitivity and connection, that propels us to go to any extreme to secure that which has value to us.
Our children … we keep vigilant watch over them, making sure that they are secure, safe and growing up in a healthy environment. To a much lesser degree, we pay extra careful attention to our prized belongings and are intentional in their security.
What about our marriages? Certainly, horizontally speaking, the marriage covenant is the most precious relationship we have. It is the one that should trump all others in terms of endeavor, intentional deposits and caretaking.
From my chair as a therapist, too often I encounter couples who have let their marriages get stale, have not invested consistently in their growth, and yet find themselves somewhat bewildered by the emptiness they feel in their hearts.
Sadly, it is then that the marriage is most at risk. When one does not feel filled, connected, secure and content in marriage, it is too easy to begin to look outside the marriage for that fulfillment.
To fill the “hole,” couples can find themselves seeking pleasures in other things (hobbies, purchases, activities) that can seem benign on the surface but can be very damaging on a deeper level. Why? Because it is easy for an innocent distraction to become a threatening force to the marriage in such a subtle way that it surprises all concerned.
So, to that end, let’s put a fence around our marriages! Let’s protect the precious investment we have made in building a life with our mate. Whatever the “cost,” when we have something of value, we must build fences, make it “affair-proof” and protect that which is so valuable … our marriages! How? Some tips:
- Build your marriage on the Rock! When marriage is indeed a covenant with God, we then assume the responsibility to keep it healthy, filled, and honoring.
- Keep stoking the fire of your romance! Be fun, spontaneous, flirty and playful.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff! Choose the battles in marriage … let the small stuff go.
- On the other hand, small stuff can become big stuff! Don’t ignore subtleties that will make your spouse feel special and truly loved.
- Play! Laugh! Make memories! Create adventure and opportunity. This can occur on a European cruise or during a fun game of Scrabble. Whatever it is, do it with gusto and laugh out loud!
- Choose to fall in love … again and again! Remember, sometimes love is not a feeling but a choice! So choose to see your mate through the eyes of your youth … and fall in love again!
Yes, we take care to protect our children, our puppies, our investments and our possessions. Let’s also intentionally pursue the profound protection of our most precious horizontal relationship … OUR MARRIAGES!