Improve the “Me” to Impact the “We”
How do we invest in ourselves to produce stronger, healthier relationships, particularly in our marriages?
Science and research speak to the tremendous benefits of personal growth. Whether it is adding to your skill-set to become more marketable in the industry, toning up that physique for a healthier lifestyle, or even expanding your knowledge by reading a book a week. These are all great things to pursue, but what about in the area of relationships? How do we invest in ourselves to produce stronger, healthier relationships, particularly in our marriages?
What I have found is that what happens to ‘me’ impacts the ‘we.’ In other words, our personal growth has a splash effect on all our other relationships. However, if you want to keep the spark alive in your marriage, here are a few ways we can improve the ‘me’ to impact the ‘we.’
Understand the Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship
Marriage is the most intimate relationship we will ever experience on earth. This type of relationship is focused around the greatest level of intimacy. At this level, nothing is hidden. A mutual acceptance takes place considering all the flaws, quirks, and uniqueness of who that person is, yet, completely loving them without condition. Marriage is a real-life work of art, as it brings together two different people, from different backgrounds, walks of life, families of origin, and crashes all their ideas together to paint a beautiful picture of love. However, to get to this level and maintain consistency, there needs to be a healthy balance of communication, conflict resolution, and connection. Grasping a deeper understanding of these ingredients and identifying ways you can improve in these areas will put you in a great position to have a happier, healthier marriage.
Go Back to School
Wait a second…No, I don’t mean literally going back to school, but more so, becoming a student again. First, take some time to evaluate yourself. Look at your communication styles, take a personality test or an Emotional Intelligence assessment. How are you doing with your self-management? Can you handle your emotions well? Be honest. Remember, the better you can learn about the ‘me’ effects your ability to better understand the ‘we.’ Then become a student of your spouse. Encourage them to take similar assessments so you can learn more about their responses. Or just watch and listen and take notes. I’ve found that all these assessments can give you a good idea who your partner is, but it takes intentional work to make sure you’re relating to them in their ways. Obtaining more information about your partner allows for improved communication. Have check-ins. There’s no better learning opportunity than simply talking with one another.
Learn to say “I’m sorry, will you forgive me…”
We know conflict is inevitable. And it’s not that happy couples don’t argue or experience less conflict, it is more about their perspective to approaching conflict. Healthy relationships strive for resolution, whereas unhealthy relationships pursue victory. One of the key elements of Emotional Intelligence is Social Awareness. Considering how our actions and words impact others. Importantly, recognizing when we’re wrong and being able to take ownership of our actions. So, learn how to say “I’m sorry” when we’re wrong. Take the approach of finding resolution instead of just trying to be right. This is key to keeping the spark alive because nothing douses the romantic flames more than conflict.
Create Space for Connection
I know, I know, not another test, but have you taken the 5 Love Languages test? Simply put, it’s a way to understand how you and your partner feel most loved and connected. Take some time to learn this. Try implementing things that will make your spouse feel the most loved. Maybe it’s sending a short “I’m thinking of you (heart emoji)” text or greeting your partner with a long hug as they come home, or just offering to hear about their day and taking time to listen. Individuals can receive intimacy in many forms. Also, create space to keep that spark alive. How does a deep connection usually happen? Over time, through much talking, while being together. Make date nights a habit. Protect time in your calendar for that space for you and your spouse to connect. You don’t need an agenda of activities, just be present.
At the end of the day, be encouraged. No one has this all figured out. She needs work, he needs work, I need work, we all need work. Self-improvement and relational-improvement is a process. To have a healthy relationship and marriage, it will take intentional investments. So look at one thing you can start doing that would have a positive impact on your marriage today. Write it down. Tell it to your spouse or someone close to you to keep you accountable. Then put it in to practice. Shoot for once a week, then increase from there. While it may not be the easiest area to develop, growing yourself for the betterment of your relationships is one of the best personal investments you can make.
Eddie had been speaking on and writing about healthy relationships for several years now. His passion is to see young adults thrive, marriages flourish, and families become change agents in their community. Follow him on LinkedIn.
For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges