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Growing in love

Friday, November 3, 2006

posted by Andrew

Looking around at car lots a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I were deciding whether or not to update our car. While for most people it would seem like a relatively simple procedure, I was met my mixed feelings as we looked across the rows of shiny cars, all begging to be taken for a test-drive and taken home.

We both looked closer at a shiny red BMW. To me, it stood out from the silver BMWs in the row alongside it and I pictured my partner and I driving around in the summer, sunroof open and a favorite CD playing. I have a red two-seater convertible I drive during the week, and our four door sedan for weekends together with the dog didn’t seem nearly as exciting, which prompted us to go car shopping.

My partner has a four door sedan, a sensible car, peppy and good looking, but not exciting in the same way that my convertible is. So looking for something new was going to need to be a compromise. Something that was exciting like my car, but also had room in which to grow. The BMW seemed to fit that criteria, but after driving it I still wasn’t sure…

Are we the same in our relationships? Does the person we think we want remain the ideal person once we have them? Are we happy with what we got, or are we always looking to trade up to the next model?

I guess we build illusions in our minds of what we picture the perfect relationship to be, and when this becomes a reality, we freak out and reasess what it is we want. Once we have what we want, are we fulfilled? Or are we still looking for ways that it could be better?

I thought the BMW would be perfect, but once I drove it and had the opportunity to purchase it, I wondered if I really did want it. The moment of indecision I experienced troubled me. It troubled me because I didn’t have the emotional investment in the new car like I did the old. To make it the perfect car I would have to invest in it and make it mine.

Are we the same with our marriages?

I get emails from clients all the time looking for marriage counseling and marriage help telling me that their partners are perfect, but they are not "in love" with them. I guess they assumed that once they got the perfect person that their problems would be over. Real love, the kind of love that exists in real marriages, is not that simple. It takes effort and a willingness to grow.

The point I am making here is that it takes more than the perfect person to create a good relationship. Even if you have a person who possesses all the qualities that you have ever looked for in a husband or wife, making a marriage work still involves effort. Every day of your married life you are called to grow in your love for one another, and to grow in your understanding of what this love is.

The love you feel for your partner in the first year of marriage will be a different kind of love to the love that you feel on your 25th wedding anniversary. And this will be different again to the love you feel for each other on your 40th wedding anniversary.

Your marriage is a journey of love, and on this journey you are called to find new ways of loving and expressing this love for your partner. The bumps you face along the road are reminders to the both of you that changes need to be made. Nothing remains static, and this includes your marriage. Just like changing cars, loving the person you are with involves you investing in them and the relationship. They may still be the perfect person, but in order to have the perfect relationship, you have to always put the effort in. Marriage problems surface when you resist change and refuse to grow in your love for one another. Love is a constantly evolving process, and successful marriages are ones that are always growing in understanding, never staying still.

Are you commited to growing in love together? There is no such thing as a free ride. 

Save Your Marriage from Insults

Monday, October 2, 2006

posted by Andrew

I was out for a walk with my dog last night and took a short-cut past my local rugby-football club. While walking past a group of boys in a training session, I overheard someone putting another player down, and it gave me the opportunity to ponder on what had happened. In looking at what motivated one person to put another down in this situation, I contemplated my own experience with put-downs.

My own experience is somewhat different due to my extroverted personality, and this personality attracts a certain amount of attention, both positive and negative. As much as I have a happy-go-lucky type of attitude to life, attacks from others can really get me down.

I guess as part of my need to protect myself from the labels and judgements of others I have created an insular world and group of people around me that lead me to believe, albeit temporarily, that I am accepted wholeheartedly and without comment, derision or scorn.

In doing this, I wonder if I set myself up for a disappointment when those outside of this circle let themselves down and further dampen my hope that wider humanity is as evolved and accepting as the people I surround myself with. As much as I tell myself that I don’t care for the thoughts and opinions of others, one small comment from a complete stranger can still cut deep.

I don’t believe it is often what is said moreso than the way it is spoken. An observation, an insult, or a label is often hurled toward another without feeling and without consequence. Some people would tell me that a stranger’s insult is indicative of their inadequacies, or that their need to put down others highlights their own poor self-esteem.

There is more power to our words than we give credit, and none moreso than when we use our words as weapons. This is especially true when we use words to wound our loved ones. We know and understand our loved ones intimately, and sharing our innermost secrets with our loved ones exposes us to vulnerability. Our trust in our partners allows us to share our secrets and overcome this fear of vulnerability.

Your marriage partnership is in itself an insular environment because of this trust, and an attack on a deeply personal level from within this most trusted environment can be little short of devastating. The person we trust most in the world knows all of our secrets in the same way you know theirs, and hurling an insult at them can be a betrayal of this deep trust you have in one another. The betrayal of trust in your partner by using their vulnerability against them can continue to wound them long after the insult has been forgiven.

So when this sacred trust is shattered, what do we do to undo the damage? 

  • We can ask for forgiveness, hoping that the humility of asking for forgiveness can undo the damage that the insult inflicts.
  • We can recognize the betrayal of trust and vow never to use our secrets as a weapon.
  • We can look at what motivates us to wound others so deep, perhaps in an effort to understand our own wounds and why we hurt others
  • We can take responsibility for the power of our words by stopping ourselves from wounding, even when we are hurt. We can make a commitment to filter our comments and exercise self-restraint
  • We can act with love instead of hate.

What is your opinion? What additional marriage advice can you offer to others when you use words as weapons?

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