A happy marriage is not a destination it is an unending journey of personal development of both man and wife.Omowonuola Omoghene
Yes, that’s the one thing you must keep in mind about the happy marriage you desire….it is an unending journey, because marriage is until death.
A few days ago, I listened to a message by Pastor Kingsley Okonkwo (attached at the end of this post) and he quoted someone to have said “you don’t outgrow divorce, you outwork it“. That just sat in my heart. And I dare to rephrase “you don’t outgrow unhappiness in marriage, you outwork it”.
Hence if you want to be happy and fulfilled in your marriage, one of the best decisions you can make is to choose the work of continuous self development.
The omelette is only as good as the eggs.Dr Myles Munroe
Some posts ago, I wrote that “the union is more important than the individual”. While that is true, as many marriages have hit the rock when one partner chooses to pursue personal interests at the expense of the needs of the union, it is also true that the union will only be as great, happy and fulfilled as the individuals in it.
There must be a healthy balance, between choosing yourself, taking care of yourself and choosing your marriage and enriching it. In actual fact, when you truly choose to enrich your marriage, you will realize that the place to begin is with you.
So let’s be clear, the selfish pursuit of personal happiness may likely wreck havoc on your marriage, but the pursuit of personal development, when sought with balance, can only strengthen your union.
How can you apply this to your daily life?
First, maintain your individuality.
You can only give to your union what you have within you.
Therefore, choose to maintain your individuality by continuing to fan the flames of your interests and to pursue the dreams that are unique to you. Regularly engage in those activities that make you “tick”. The happier and more fulfilled you are, the greater love, grace and generosity you are able to put back into your union.
Christ said “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Right now I interpret this to mean I can only learn to express love to my spouse by first learning to express love to myself.
Also, remember your spouse fell in love with you because of your uniqueness, so sacrificing that uniqueness because you are now married will be self sabotage.
Here are some practical ways to maintain your individuality :
Have a vision board:
You and I both know life is busy, marriage and parenting only makes it busier, so if you don’t want to forget about yourself, you have to literally put yourself in front of you! Let your personal goals be placed where you can see them, so that the constant demands of marriage and parenting won’t overshadow it. These goals should of course include personal development goals.
Have a scheduled self care time:
We hear this a lot but we fail to practice it because we don’t schedule it. So schedule it. It could be an hour after the kids go to bed, one or two nights a week. It could also be a time you’ve agreed upon with your spouse during the day. Do your best not to watch TV or scroll endlessly through social media during these times.
I have found that a warm bath, a little light reading, painting my nails, exercise, thinking on how to achieve my goals, working on this blog etc. does more for my self esteem and confidence than watching TV or social media. And remember the goal is not just relaxation but personal development, so find activities that check both boxes for you.
When you do the things that make you not just happier, but fulfilled, it boosts your self esteem, hence you are more graceful and less easily frustrated. You also become more attractive to your spouse and you’re able to put more happiness into your marriage. Period.
In addition, ensure you still make time for your same sex friends. I have seen people go into a relationship and then have no time for their other friends anymore. That shouldn’t be. Your spouse, no matter how good hearted he is, cannot meet all of your needs. So let there be a balance.
Second, encourage & support your spouse’s individuality.
This will be easier to do as you keep investing in yourself. The higher your self esteem, the easier it would be for you to allow and encourage your spouse to pursue his interests as well.
When you are secure in who you are, it’d spill into your relationships. You won’t be clingy or needy. And when you give your spouse the freedom to pursue personal interests, they come back into your union, fulfilled and ready to give back.
How do you practice this?
Periodically ask your spouse about his interests, goals and dreams.
Just as marriage and the responsibilities of parenting is consuming for you, it is for him as well. So don’t let him lose sight of his individuality. Don’t let him lose sight of his dreams, simply because he is trying to meet everyone’s needs. Even if he doesn’t have an answer to give you right away, by asking those questions, you stir up the thoughts in his heart and you show that you are still genuinely interested in him, not just what he has to offer the family.
When I made a vision board for myself, I made for my husband too. I want him to become all he desires to be regardless of the responsibilities he is confronted with. I believe that when we are happy as individuals, we will be happy as a couple.
Also, periodically give your husband time alone. Let him do whatever he chooses with it, no criticisms or questions asked from you.
A strong union constantly seeks and requires the improvement of the individuals in it.
Your happy marriage begins with you!
What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to let me know in the comments.