“It’s normal to get lost midway along the marital journey. Successful couples are those who can renegotiate a new direction when they hit such critical relationship junctures.” -Steve and Cathy Brody, Renew Your Marriage at Midlife: A Guide to Growing Together in Love
Marriage is frequently compared to a journey and I think the comparison is fitting. A journey, unlike a simple trip, is a massive undertaking that requires planning and preparation as well as a sense of adventure. Journeys are susceptible to a myriad of variables that the traveler cannot control or completely avoid. Finally, a journey often has a life of its own and, as their journey wears on, travelers should either expect to stray off the map or abandon it altogether.
Marriage is equally massive, marvelous, and unpredictable. However, many travelers embarking on the marital journey are so determined to stick to the course they charted as an engaged couple, that when they begin to veer off the map, they are ready to call it quits. If your marital journey has landed you somewhere that wasn’t on your original itinerary, look at this article as a neon “You are here!” sign. Just following a few, simple steps can help to renew, restore, and revitalize your relationship and guide your marriage back on course, or in an entirely new and exciting direction.
Step #1 – Renew
Renew your “I do’s” and recommit to saying yes to one another. Forget the public ceremonies made popular by reality show couples on the fritz, what I’m proposing is a lot more cutting edge! In the spirit of the trust and vulnerability exchanged with a couple’s wedding vows, make a vow of positivity for one month. This means affirming and supporting your spouse and searching out positivity and the spirit of yes in every exchange, instead of negativity and criticism. Saying yes is not about submitting but about lifting one another up and helping to form healthy relationship habits based on affirmation instead of criticism.
Step #2 – Restore
Take a look at your marriage and find the areas that once fulfilled you and now are falling flat. Do you miss having more one-on-one time with your husband? Are you feeling invisible to or unappreciated by your wife? Has it been ages since the two of you just sat back and laughed? Choose one area and plan an exchange with your spouse. In the spirit of yes, listen to your partner and open yourself up to finding creative solutions for restoration. However, instead of swapping complaints and homework assignments for one another, look at restoration as a joint project where you work together to help each other feel satisfied by the relationship.
Step #3 – Revitalize
Once you restore what made your relationship work to begin with, you are ready for the final step: revitalization! The final step is all about breathing new life into a gently-used marriage. This is the fun part! Determine a joint interest or goal that neither partner has ever pursued and do it together. The sky is truly a limit; it can be a hobby, a trip, a business, you name it! Drawing from the spirit of yes and the restorative benefits of working together for mutual fulfillment, embark on an adventure together that embodies your shared interests. Be it a cooking class or two years in the Peace Corps, a shared adventure helps a couple begin again and carve a new relationship out of an old one.
“You are here!” This blog post is like the red dot on the map of marriage, telling you exactly where you are and how to get to where you need to be! Renew, restore, and revitalize as you re-chart your marriage journey.
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