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Posts Tagged ‘becoming’

Two couples sit in a living room.

One couple sit together, touching and exchange glances often. They talk over each other a fair bit too, apologizing for finishing each other’s stories. They seem more aware of each other than their company. They are (no surprise here) dating. You know, the stage where “ignorance is bliss”.

Across the room the other couple also sit together but slightly apart. Affection isn’t easy to detect and there’s a level of disinterest in each other’s sentences. Their conversation is perhaps more polished but you’re not sure if they’ve looked at each other since they sat down. This couple, you guessed it, have matured. They sport 10 years of married “bliss” together.

Now, conventional wisdom would have us listen to the “voice of experience.” It would have us turn to the 10-year couple and ask, “How have you done it? How have you stayed together and learned to live in this relationship?”

In response we might hear about the importance of tolerating each other no matter the hardship, and how they’ve learned to handle both joys and disappointments. We’d learn how idealism fades into reality and how the couple across the room will see how it really is in due time. We’d grimace at the list of things they’ve given up trying to change about each other in order to keep the peace.

However, unconventional wisdom would have us listen to the “voice of those experiencing.” It would have us turn to the dating couple and ask them, “How is it done? How do you see enjoying each other and learning to live in this relationship?”

In response we would most likely hear how they have high expectations of their future together and we would see how they make generous excuses for the faults they see in each other. We’d learn how their idealistic thinking about love actually frames the way they treat each other, and becomes self-perpetuating. We’d smile to see that neither of them can think of anything they wouldn’t change for the sake of the other’s happiness.

From our vantage point we get to see things critically. We get to pick. Do we follow the wisdom of those who have what we want or do we listen to those who have let it slip? Do we accept a fundamental shift in thinking to return to what love can be, or do we justify our lack of it and roll our eyes at what we had?

The most important question for you is, which couple are you becoming more like?

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For the “solution driven” individual it can be frustrating to face something you can’t change.

In a long-term relationship, focusing on such areas develops points of contention or disappointment rather quickly. However, that same focus put in the right place can be a vital key to breakthrough and change. The choice, really, is between contention and disappointment or real and significant change. You just have to know where to focus. As it is commonly said, it’s better to go through life with a key than a crowbar.

To get you thinking, here’s a mini-list of things you can’t fix, complete with better targets for your focus:

You can’t fix what’s already happened but you can nurture something beautiful from what you have. Find the good in your spouse in every situation, and find ways to affirm it with your words and acceptance.

You can’t fix a person’s past but you can help them “become” the best version of themselves. You are your spouse’s greatest fan or critic! Encouraging them will inspire much more change than condemnation.

You can’t fix a another’s opinion but you can study your own perspective in the light of their ideas. Be willing to take correction from your spouse, just like you wish they would from you. They understand you better than anyone, so their perspective is valuable to you.

You can’t fix anger in someone else but you can see past it to their wounds. Understand “hurt people hurt people.” In such times look for their hurt instead of reacting to their anger, and you’ll find you can respond to their need instead of distancing yourself with defensiveness.

You can’t fix a spouse’s weakness, but you can lead in improving yourself. It’s your responsibility to love your spouse, and improve yourself, and not the other way around!

You can’t fix what a person gives you, but you can serve them more generously still. You’ll find whatever you give your spouse (eg. encouragement, criticism, time, acts of service, affirmation, silence) your spouse will naturally be inclined to reciprocate. It’s almost guaranteed!

Lovers would do well to put their focus on what they can fix: themselves.

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Sometimes we don’t realize it, but what drives the success of a happily dating couple is the tension between who they are as individuals and what they share of themselves. Their lives are characterized by the movement from what’s unknown about each other to what’s becoming known, from what has been discovered to what’s about to be.

When a relationship is new, there is much more focus on learning more about the other person. However as it matures, focus is also required on the development of who you are becoming as an individual.

A common mistake is to stop focusing on the discovery of yourself and your spouse over time. You’ve seen those couples that seem so disinterested in each other – he certainly isn’t getting any admiration from her, and his affections aren’t towards her either. It’s sad and so opposite from how they likely began: in love with the discovery of each other. At some point they stopped discovering each other, or stopped developing who they were becoming as individuals. Sometimes both.

We’re sure you’ve seen couples that have been married for quite a while and yet are still madly in love too. You’ve seen the evident love and zeal they have for each other and you’ve wondered what they did to make love last.

Under the surface of such a love you will find that they allow each other space for and celebrate self-discovery, and they continue to learn more and more of who it is that they’re with – in every season of life, and in the light of the challenges and opportunities they face together.

Both man and woman, if they want their love to last, must take responsibility for and intentionally focus on this discovery. If they do, the same emotion and adventure that drives a new relationship will characterize theirs as well – only with the added treasure of the trust and safety of a more mature relationship.

How could you show more interest in your mate? Do you need to develop yourself more or allow room in life for them to “become” more of who they are? How is this tension is playing out in your relationship? We invite your comments below.

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Rock the Boat

We change from the inside, out. That is, the incremental changes of personal growth, maturity, personality – the metamorphosis of an individual over the course of life – it happens inside first and filters to the surface of our lives in time. The boat of our lives, with those people we love in it, seems to stay still.

Problem is, in most spheres, we spend a lot of time making sure we don’t do anything to rock our boat. Life has taught us not to show our inner thoughts too quickly. That’s why if we grow unhappy at work, it can take months or even years before we discuss a desire for change with our boss. If we gradually get bored with a hobby we do with our friends, chances are it’s a long time before they hear about it. We are expert at staying the same for those that expect us to be the same.

Because we change slowly, inside first, and gradually into our outward life, the change often goes unchampioned, and even worse, unnoticed. The boat stays still.

In marriage, however we must learn how to express that change. There must be a genuineness about ourselves amongst those we love most genuinely. So purpose to show and converse together regularly about what’s going on (or what you think may be going on) in the deeper recesses of your soul that no one else sees. This disclosure is important because as two people grow, they must know each other deeply in order to grow together closely. And there is no greater love than love for someone who has genuinely helped you discover and be more true to yourself.

The question is, how unexpressed are you around him/her? Why? Rock the boat.

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There are different versions of “you.” You know, some days you’re just a little sweeter than others. Or more productive, more cute, or more present.

It’s also true that the version of you you are living right now is a result of many factors, most principally choice. Whether you are aware of it or not, you purpose each day to live out a certain expression of who you are. Sometimes, out of eagerness, we overstep our identity and realize, “That’s just not who I am,” and make adjustments as we go along. Sometimes we act in ways that we know are below what we’re capable of. There are ups and downs, starts and stops, a discovering if you will, of who we are. A becoming.

Marriage is an opportunity to discover and develop this at warp speed. When versions of you interact constantly with the versions of your spouse, you have an incredible opportunity to become the best version of yourself. There is a principle that says personal development happens not in a vacuum but in relationship. Marriage takes this to the n’th degree.

But the choices made in order to be the best version of yourself in marriage are not for your sake. Not for selfish or noble reasons. Not to better your success or improve your chances of advancement. No, in marriage, we do it for our partners. We aim to become the very best versions of ourselves for their sake, and we receive the side benefits of a better self.

So do it. Use your marriage to become the best version of yourself.

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