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Two Become One, or Three?

I attended a wedding recently…flowers, happy faces, music, happy couple, and of course…the vows. Lots of brides and grooms pick from one or two popular verses from the Bible. Most popular is the “love verse,” you know the one about,

“Love is patient, love is kind…”

Then the other verse, almost as popular, generally stated by the preacher or rabbi… “Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father, united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Actually the “two become one flesh” part is in the Bible five times. Think about it. When a man and a woman covenant together in matrimony, a marriage is created. So, marriage math is 1 + 1 = 3. Not both of you plus a kid, but three different entities, the marriage being the third.

There is a huge misconception that the marriage ceremony mysteriously transforms two individuals into some mythical, harmonious, blended oneness where peace and tranquility abounds for the rest of your life. In reality, opposites attract and remain uniquely individual, sometimes spending the rest of their married life irritating and fighting with each other. The idea that your partner will automatically “change” after marriage in one area or another is a fable. Most researchers and therapists will confirm that it actually becomes more difficult to change after marriage. In fact, it may even get worse.

So, how do you effectively cultivate a marriage?

Spend some time with your spouse.

It’s important to view your marriage as a being created by your union, but uniquely different than either of you individually.

Sweat the small stuff.

Grand, romantic gestures, like weekend getaways or gifts, may occur on occasion, but fortunately, little gestures can make a big difference every day. Pick something to change that you know is a hot button for your spouse. For example, pick your clothes up off the floor or unload the dishwasher. Be the first one up for a change and take the time to brew your spouse’s favorite drink in the morning to make them feel loved and appreciated.

Create a care list.

Sit together and jot down what each of your do for the other that cause you to feel cared for and appreciated. Each of you naturally gravitate to certain tasks like car maintenance, paying bills, or doing the shopping. Flirt by showing appreciation. Show love by being thankful for the little things you both do to support your marriage.

A want for other.

This is a hard one, especially if you have a bit of conflict going on. First, agree that a “want” and a “don’t want” are both wants. Each are the two sides of the same coin. Second, sharing your knowledge of your lover’s want (or ‘doesn’t want’) is not a commitment, just recognition. Third, think about your spouse’s wants and select one to share. This would be what THEY truly want. Fourth, carefully watch their face as you share what you selected. If you get it right, their face will light up like a Christmas tree!Here is what it might look like, if you know your spouse doesn’t like where they work. “Honey, what I want for you is to have a job that you like doing with people you like to work with every day.” Or, if you have four kids and are looking for a new car. “Dear, what I want for you is a new Corvette convertible. You driving down the road with the top down.”

Hug and kiss, early and often. No explanation needed.

In essence,

getting married does, in fact, create a third “being” that must be nurtured properly to survive, grow, and sustain happiness. It’s essential to recognize and cultivate the needs of yourself, your spouse, and your marriage so that all three of you can live a healthy, happy life.

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