Marriage Practices – After 15 years…
Here are some of my thoughts after 15 years on marriage practices!
The Practice of Cafe’
Sharing Planned Time: My husband Isaiah and I have a practice of “cafe'” almost every day, no matter what is going on. This means that we drink our coffee together and we don’t do things at Cafe like TO DO lists or anything that could be unpleasant. This is sacred time. We do things like: share readings, write in our journals on a specific topic, study something together, draw, sing, share a song or video we found on the internet, vision, write down goals, wish lists, acknowledge each other, ask provacative questions and answer them together, share things we are proud of and stories. This kind of being “in touch” almost daily creates a fabric of connection that holds us in all the other areas of our life. The key is to truly be interested in that person, and to encourage them towards their personal visions and dreams. And of course, to vision together!
Another thing that we really work on together is to not be casual with our language – to not get in the habit of saying things in jest, or things where one of you would have to say, I am only joking, or I am only kidding. We have never once had to say that – because there is a profound respect. Now, if we fight, that is a different story – I am speaking more of the day to day “culture” of the home being one of respect. The casual nature with which we allow a sort of “insult” to become normal, is not helpful at all. And most especially in front of others, lift up your spouse.
Greet One Another With Enthusiasm
We have a policy that no matter what, when one of us comes home, we DROP or STOP whatever we are doing to greet that person – with sweetness and enthusiasm. Especially if we are on the phone. I just say, I have to go – my husband is home – and I try to do that BEFORE he walks in the door so I am ready for him. This is also good for waking up in the morning, if you are already awake and they are just waking up, stop and greet them. A lot of this has to do with not being TOO casual. Act excited! Speaking of which, we also do not recommend farting or going to the bathroom in front of each other – as time goes on we have to keep some of the mystery happening!
Keeping Conversation Active
Don’t wait TOO long in between BIG conversations. Sometimes, so that we can have some emotional freedom, we give TOO much space and then wake up one day sort of disconnected. Don’t let that happen, keep things active, even if that means keeping things stirred up. Think of the divorced people who said things like: we just grew apart. we weren’t the same anymore. This does not just happen, we let it happen. Pay attention to their behavior if they are distant, keep reaching for them – and reaching until you get in.
Plan time to work on and develop your household together – a whole day a month to work on the estate, to improve your surroundings together. Find out how the other person likes to work on upkeep – is it daily? weekly? Find the pattern that works best for them and support them in it, don’t expect them to fit your way of cleaning or upkeep. I do however recommend making the bed together every day as a ritual. Go shopping together, go to the place with them that they like – find a way to be truly interested. Don’t act like the pattern on the sheets is somehow not as important as a lawn mower. It is is just as important. Don’t diminish the parts of the Estate that are important to the other person – you don’t have to agree in order to honor their views.
Share and Know Your Values
Write down your individual values and shared values. Know what is important to the other person. If fun is in the top five of their list, and not yours – do things to bring more fun yourself because it is important to them. If you are both doing this – then it will work because you are both learning about what is important to the other person. Value what is important to them – learn about their cares in the world as well – what are their issues of import?
For The Women: Don’t bitch about the house, or nag. Really. Do it yourself or hire someone to do it. Or schedule a time when you work together to do it. But do not, let nagging come into your household culture. There are so many more important things to do than to be irritated about our homes or your husband leaving a towel on the floor. Don’t let yourself be exasperated about this – it is a waste of time.
For the Men: Cultivate the practice of tending – of not letting things around the house or in the house get too far behind – don’t let her tell you what needs to be done, do it before she asks, or bring it up. It is clear what needs to be done, so it is best not to put her in the position of having to “tell you”. Or, do it together. p.s. if your lady is not a housekeeper, hire one, it will be one of the best investments you will ever make.
The Practice of Non-Irritation: simply do not allow yourself to feel “irritated” about things they do. Better to be mad and get over it than to let it cause the emotion or experience of irritation. That is a killer to romance, my mom Caron McCloud gave us that tip in the beginning and am I ever glad she did.
Magic Words: I Need All Your Love
Have a very special clause or code or magic sentence in your marriage, that when you say it – the fight or the situation must end and return to love. Once you pick it, don’t over use it because it is like a magic word and you save it up for a time of need. We say, I need all your love – and actually, drop to our knees when we say it. You may not think you need this now – but you will over time want to have practices in place that call you back to total presence. Be willing to be humbled.
Giving all of your Love
You have already given them your heart so don’t hold back even if you were hurt before. Give it all up! Give in! Don’t punish by withholding love from them. Find ways to be extravagant about loving them and letting them know they hold the key to your heart. This is not just about romantic get aways – don’t wait that long – share your love in BIG Ways and Small ways all day long.
Make a study of non-reactivity. Practice it. Don’t get “hot buttons” or let “triggers” develop. Don’t let things “get to you” and react quickly. Learn to pause. Learn to stay the emotion. Drama is not good for marriage – be dramatic about LOVING not about all the other stuff. Practice saying – I need to think about that – without a charge on your tone of voice. Just be calm and still in your heart and body when they say things that used to trigger you – choose not to be triggered.
Display Your Passion
Just be passionate about one another. Let it show. Be a fool for love. Be a little wild about them without being possessive. Compliment them about fine detials of their looks or character – let them FEEL your passion. Hug and kiss and stroke them as if they were the most precious thing you have ever seen. Don’t be too casual about the fact that you have chosen this person for your life mate, is a big deal, let it continue to be a big deal.
Learn to acknowledge your person for just about everything, don’t take it for granted. See what they are doing, and say something about it. Let them know they are seen, and heard. Take time to look in their eyes and say what you are noticing about what they are doing – give them praise – and learn in yourself, to feel that praise as praise will ward of resentment. Don’t let resentment build up – do whatever you can to keep things fresh and active. Express your gratitude, that you get them in your life.