The Ripple Effect Life:
Health & Life Mastery Blog Series
by Dr. Tom and Sue Gargiula
Our heart aches anytime we hear about a marriage that breaks up. We don’t even need to know the people. We are still sad because it is a trauma to the sacred covenant of marriage.
Marriage is very powerful. There is something special happening when two people pledge all of themselves to each other. More than 90 percent of people, in Western Cultures, marry by age 50. According to the American Psychological Association, Marriage has been shown to have a positive impact upon someone’s mental and physical health. Not to mention that a healthy marriage is good for the children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational, and social problems.
Statistically, 40% of first time marriages end in divorce.
Let us be the first to say that there are some very legitimate reasons to get a divorce, especially in an abusive situation. Statistically about 25% of divorces are due to abuse. There are many different reasons why abuse takes place. A majority of the time it is because the abuser was abused themselves at some point in their life. Getting professional help from a psychologist, counselor, therapist, or spiritual leader is critical to truly resolve these issues, forgive yourself, those who hurt you, and most importantly – stop the cycle of abuse. This cycle needs to stop for both the one doing the abusing and the one who was abused.
Let’s go back to the beginning to when we wrote that a marriage is two people “pledging all of themselves” to each other. This is huge because if this is true and we really believe that every decision we make is going to be made with the marriage as our number one priority, then so many of the problems that lead to divorce are resolved before they start. This is the ultimate in being proactive. Consciously choosing to have a successful marriage from the very beginning instead of waiting for the marriage to show signs of falling apart before we attempt to do something about it.
Let us explain the details of what it means to us when we say to make your marriage your number one priority. There are three things are fall under this number one priority. They are all very close in rank with only slight differences.
For us it is God, Me, Marriage. Let us explain further. First is God as our creator. Giving God of our time, our love, and our service. A close Second is Me. I have to love me so I am a full person and then I am ready for the relationship. An even closer Third is the marriage. We want to be full of God’s love and self love first, then we are prepared to love each other. For those of you to which this is new, be sure to give it some serious thought before you either embrace it or dismiss it.
Since we honor our relationship so much we make sure that each of us has our alone time so we can fill ourselves up. It is very important to take care of yourself so you have the proper rest, health, intellectual time, friendships, time with your parents, etc. Most of the things on this list are able to be done at times that do not take away from the relationship. For example, Tom gets up at 5am to spend time in prayer, visualizing, meditating, and exercising. This activity takes nothing away from our marriage since the rest of the family is still sleeping. Sue takes the time for her bible study or to have lunch with a girlfriend on her days off and when the kids are at school and Tom is at the office. We will frequently do activity together as we enjoy nice long walks in the evenings. Of course, this decision to be proactive can begin at any time. You can decide today to begin living consciously when it comes to making your marriage and your spouse your number one priority.
Things may look a little different when you start making decisions based upon your marriage as the priority. First, decide with your spouse how you want your marriage to evolve. In a perfect world, as if you had a magic wand, what would be the ideal situation for your marriage? AND what does each of your roles look like in this ideal scenario? You see, we may have to begin acting differently in order to get the outcome that we truly want to have in this new vision of your ideal marriage. It is important to understand that this is not sacrificing, it is prioritizing.
Your spouse comes first before everything else. That’s right, that is a big statement for many of us. Really? Yes REALLY!!! Your spouse comes before your job, kids, parents, friends, sports, hobbies, etc. We understand that this is very new for many of you. It was a conscious decision we had to make, not only years ago, but literally every morning when we wake up.
This does not mean that we neglect the kids when they have significant needs outside of the norm, or our elderly parents if they in need assistance. This is part of life, AND, when done with your spouse involved it all works better. Ninety percent of the time there are no emergencies and you get to decide how you want your typical life to look.
Please remember that everyday is a decision to love. Everyday is a time for a do-over. We are not perfect people. We are all human – striving to improve each and every day.
To get the thinking going for improving your relationship, here are some steps that we take to insure that our relationship is moving in the desired direction.
• Weekly Date night – The same day each week planning time with each other. It can be dinner out, a walk, coffee, etc. It does not have to cost any money, the most important investment with the weekly date is TIME. You telling your spouse “You and our relationship are important to me.” It is on the calendar so nothing else gets scheduled at that time.
• Daily connection ritual – Taking time each day, even if only 15 minutes, when there is no TV, no phone, no kids, no distractions. Talk about the day; The good, bad, and ugly. Diffuse issues before they build up into an argument or resentment.
• A Quarterly 24 hour date – Get the baby sitters figured our and go away with only the two of you for a full 24 hours. It could be a bed and breakfast in your own town or an easy getaway. By doing this every 3 months you continue to build upon the momentum of your weekly dates. Revolve these times around special events like a birthday or anniversary.
Remember, these ideas are for ALL relationships. After all, we ALL need to continue improving our relationships. Life is not only better for you two when you work on your relationship, it is also better for the children. They will be able to tell a huge positive difference once you begin implementing some of these strategies.