Last week, we talked about how to fix my marriage… Well, let’s talk about that again. I gave you a few practical things and I am sure some of you are like, but I did that and my marriage isn’t fixed. It’s only been a week. Give it some time and this week we are going to go a little deeper on some of the deep work you can do on your marriage.
Full disclosure and content: I’ve been in the place where my wife looked at me after being married for 15 years and she had said I don’t want to be married to you, anymore. And we ended up in some marriage counseling at that time. It was one of the best decisions of my life. My wife had been trying to get me to go for two years or so… and at that point I said, “Hey, let’s go.”
And then a few years back we were in a good place and things were good; life was good. My business was growing, the kids were good, the kids were involved at school, we had date nights… It was good, but every now and then things were not good and something would come up. It. Was. Awkward. She’d be angry and I’d be frustrated. And then everything would be fine again for a month or two or six. And then something would happen and there was just this underlying, almost unspoken tension. And it was unresolved and we couldn’t put our finger on it. This time we went to a marriage intensive. We invested a bit of money to go away and it was two years of marriage counseling crammed into five days. It was an amazing experience that was transformative.
And I’ll be honest, on the way there I was thinking about the really long list of things my wife needed to work on. And I’m not joking… work on this, let go of that, forgive me for this and I thought we needed to have more sex, of course. It didn’t quite turn out that my list was accurate. I was completely off and there was a whole lot that I needed to take ownership and responsibility for that I wasn’t even aware of.
That is why it is called deep work because if you do the practical stuff and there is still this underlying tension… there might be some things below the surface that you’re not addressing. So I’m going to bring up a few areas that you might not have considered.
Maybe you haven’t considered the five love languages test. It’s really good in practical ways, but there’s some stuff below the surface that you might not be considering. And here’s the big overarching statement I want to give you: if your marriage is feeling tense or on the rocks or you’ve got that underlying thing, here’s what I can tell you…
It is not a lack of love. Most of you know that I’ve been a pastor for 25 years and my father before me for 48 years and we have all heard it in a marriage counseling situation… We are not in love anymore. And people get divorced or they separate because “they’re not in love anymore.” And the truth is that it is never a lack of love (rarely, rarely) but it is a lack of understanding because when there is a lack of understanding… There cannot be alignment. There can’t be unity. There can’t be strength.
Three areas I am going to give you to bring back alignment, create understanding, shine the spotlight on. We just had a call in our transformation community with amazing entrepreneurs, growth minded individuals (we have three of these all community calls every single week – if you want information, shoot us an email!), so we had an hour and a half call where I dove deep into marriages and the things I am getting ready to share with you and it was a powerful call with amazing dialogue.
You have to get aligned in your shared purpose and that is going to be different for every couple. You could share parenting, you could share purpose in creating the life that you desire together, you could have a business together, maybe it is doing ministry together. My wife and I have shared purpose in ministry and being the children of God. There are so many different ways to have a shared purpose. Maybe it is a passion project like saving the whales, building shelters for animals, maybe it is helping a specific country or nation, or fighting against sex trafficking; it is going to be something that you both are passionate about! This provides alignment and gives you the opportunity to be in sync with one another.
Some of you think your issue is that there is no more love, but if you would just bring purpose back into your marriage and there was something you could align and share… SPARKS would FLY! Passion would come alive.
I can tell you if all you’re doing is paying the bills, having a date night, taking the kids from here to there, maybe taking a vacation once a year… that is not having purpose. The love has faded away because your relationship doesn’t have purpose. Do find a shared purpose and get passionate about it together.
And part two of this is to honor one another’s unique purposes. Before that five day marriage intensive, I thought that my purpose was my wife’s purpose; we were building this coaching business and changing people’s lives. I THOUGHT she was going to support me by taking care of the kids and the house. But nope. My wife is awesome and she has her own purpose. And I wasn’t honoring her unique purpose. Part of that was that we hadn’t had the dialogue. And during our time away, we had some conversation where we started to discover that I needed to give her space to clear a path for her to thrive.
And so that’s been my heart for the last couple of years to clear a path for her to thrive out of that. She ended up launching a business which she’s initiated and is freaking amazing. She’s come alive and her heart is singing on a daily basis. She’s thriving in her creative flow, but the big gap was that wasn’t happening before.
This is a big one that I could talk about for a long, long time. Quick thoughts: your spouse does not need you to be an expert in A, B, or C (and by the way if you are not married this information you can take into any partnership – relationships, business, etc), they need you to be a partner. I’m a coach, I’m a pastor, I counsel people BUT my wife didn’t need me to be any of those things… She needs me to be her partner.
I’m the only person on the planet that can be her partner, her husband, her spouse and that is what she needs me to be.
So I don’t know what you’ve been trying to be to your spouse; the boss, the fixer, the conscience… like don’t do those things, we all do crazy stuff. But what your partner needs the most is for you to be a partner that comes alongside, that supports, that honors, that serves, that celebrates the partner that your spouse is.
And here’s the second point to this, whoever you’re with, however long you’ve been with them. If you have not had a conversation that defines what partnership means, you probably have different definitions. And here’s the opportunity to come together and create your own definition of what a partnership looks like, you don’t have to agree 100 percent. For example, my wife, when it comes to business stuff and growth and personal development, she would prefer me to be a silent partner unless spoken to and that’s her version of support. She wants to know I am there; she wants to know I can add in, celebrate, and encourage but she doesn’t want me getting into the details. And I on the other hand prefer to be very vocal because my love language is words of affirmation. To show me love, tell me how awesome I am, give me ideas, ask me questions. That’s what I want. And my wife how she wants support and for me to meet her needs… that is how we define partnership for us, each one of us.
If you are married, take some time this week to define partnership and it is going to change everything for your relationship. Talk it through.
I have said I almost never like passion because in my mind, I know what is going to fix our marriage… we just need to have more sex, right? Sorry to be a stereotypical male, but that was in my head. But here’s what I have realized, having more conversations about having more sex is almost never going to result in having more sex.
Let me qualify this, because someone on the recent community call said, I totally disagree with that. But as we dialogue back and forth… Should you talk about having more sex? Yes, you should. You should talk about what you like and what you don’t like, you should talk about your fantasies, you should talk about frequency, You should talk. Like talk more seriously. This stuff, none of it is automatic and no two people are the same.
And what I am talking about when I say more conversation isn’t going to bring more sex is because most of the time we are treating a symptom rather than going deep. What I’ve learned is what was most important in our relationship to increase the passion, the intimacy in our relationship was all the other things I already wrote about: aligning in purpose and aligning in partnership.
A big thing that we learned in that partnership piece was that there was some broken trust that I had to take responsibility and ownership in the financial areas of our lives. I had let my wife down, I had made some stupid decisions, and there had been some things that had broken trust (we’ve share this publicly). And I was not realizing how deep that break went. And if there is no trust, there can be no respect. And if there is no respect, there is going to be no desire. So we could have talked about all things having to do with sex and we could have done that til we were blue in the face but if wee didn’t fix the trust, it didn’t matter.
Some of you have been trying to fix this and really you need to go deeper and say, how do I emotionally connect? How do we rebuild trust in our relationship? How do I clear a path for my spouse to thrive in their purpose and honor their unique purpose and how can we partner together and bring more purpose to our relationship. Our relationship where passion just overflows and when you are aligned and connecting emotionally, mentally, spiritually… on all these deep levels and you know what? Passion is easier, those conversations come easier… because you’re not trying to force something that’s not there because the deep levels of intimacy will come when you are aligned in purpose and partnership. The passion will not feel one dimensional in a physical way but the passion will be just oozing out of every pour in your relationship and it is going to overflow!!
So talk about S-E-X, but please don’t avoid the other stuff. It is time to have some uncomfortable conversations with your significant other… even if they are not on board, yet… you can take back your power, take responsibility for your part and work to get aligned in purpose and the passion will follow.
I hope this served you!! You’re not going to have a happy marriage if you’re selfish. I love you, but stop being selfish. Start making it about your spouse instead of you. I want you to have passion in your marriage, but it doesn’t automatically happen when you say, I Do. Marriage takes work, I’m 22 and a half years into this thing. I’ve seen a lot of marriages and they all take work. So PUT the WORK IN. Don’t give up, don’t give up on your marriage. It is not a lack of love. If you could increase understanding and learn to see where they’re at, what they’re feeling… maybe love would come back alive. You just got to do some work to reignite that flame. That’s my prayer for you! It is time for you to go out there and give your greatness to your significant other because they need you. They need you to show up and give YOUR greatness!!