Maintaining a healthy marriage is top of mind in many of the circles of women I know.
This comes up all the time in the Abundant Mama Online program.
That is why I had so much fun creating my home study program, ReKindle, a 6-week deep dive to help YOU get unstuck in your marriage and start thriving again.
Thriving. Not surviving!
I hear you.
You want a better marriage.
You want a happy marriage filled with joy, fun, connection and teamwork.
You are tired of feeling isolated and alone.
When it comes to struggling in our marriages, we could blame the children. It is a really hard to maintain a marriage while raising kids and keeping a home going day after day.
After all, we’re so busy. Between all of our to-dos and deadlines and the children’s needs and phases, there really isn’t much time left at the end of the day for anything.
Not even ourselves.
And certainly not for our marriages and partnerships.
But, in my experiences with working with busy mothers, it’s not just raising children that is to blame.
In order to build a happy marriage we have to make some serious changes in our mindsets, our interpersonal habits, our communication and our understanding of each other and who we’ve become since having children.
Because oh seriously have we changed. Not one of the women I’ve worked with over the past five years has NOT changed since she became a mother.
Where should you begin?
Before we tackle the challenges of being married with kids, it’s important that you have already begun doing the work on yourself to feel happy.
If you are ready to start making changes to enjoy a happier marriage, then we need to sit down and chat and prepare properly.
There’s a right way and a million wrong ways to better a marriage. And if we do all the wrong things first it can be really hard to get things back on track.
When I work with women on the topic of their marriage, I always need to mention a few of these dos and don’ts.
DON’T — Don’t try and change your partner. Not yet anyway.
Much of the work that needs to be done to improve a marriage or bring sparks back to a marriage — or any relationship — is inner work you need to do to heal yourself enough to be able to bring more love, energy and connection to the other person.
We cannot jump in fully unless we are ready and prepared.
While we’d all love to change our partner and make them do/say/think what we want them to this is not at all realistic and the real work begins with us.
When I was trying to get my partner to join my Abundant Mama lifestyle filled with gratitude and abundance he was resistant. Naturally. It wasn’t his idea.
It makes so much more sense to work on your own mindset, expectations and habits that are contributing to the way you are feeling in the relationship and beyond.
As mothers we are used to coaching our children on how to handle tough problems. And we think we should be able to do this for our partners.
The reality is that we have to first start with ourselves when it comes to building a happy marriage.
The beauty is that once we start to change back into that vibrant person we used to be, our partners often pick up on that and try and do the same.
DO — Start communicating your needs and desires.
I’m always surprised when a woman tells me she’s struggling with something her partner has said or done and she hasn’t actually communicated it.
Evidence shows that when we air our complaints we actually feel better — even if nothing is actually done to help.
Just expressing ourselves can truly open new doors in a relationship — and in our own inner world of feeling heard and seen.
Of course there are really good ways to communicate and not-so-good ways. Choose wisely with HOW you communicate as well.
DON’T try and create a marriage based on what you see others’ doing.
Your marriage is no different than YOU. It’s authentic. And real. And messy. And completely your own.
When we base our ideas of marriage on what we see in our Facebook feed or on blogs or even on TV and the movies, we forget one really big thing: those people aren’t us and they don’t have our life circumstances. They don’t have our children or live in our town or work our jobs. They don’t have our same family support situation or our financial story.
Just as you aren’t expected to be like everyone else, your marriage doesn’t need to be like everyone else’s either.
And isn’t that refreshing — and relieving?
DO start to look at your own habits in your marriage.
Take time to start paying attention to how you are showing up each day. What walls are you building around you that make understanding you harder?
There’s a reason you are so tired and it might have to do with your own bad habits that are monopolizing your time and energy. Spending too much watching bad television or mindlessly surfing the Internet come to mind …
We don’t even realize the walls we put up. We just do it, without thinking. You can begin to create a healthy marriage by cutting out even just a couple time consuming activities that aren’t improving your marriage — or your family life.
DON’T be the judge of all things.
It’s so easy to think that you carry the emotional and physical load because you probably do. Most women run the family household because they are capable of handling all the moving parts effectively.
The second you start to surrender to that fact marriage becomes more simply about learning to communicate and delegate compassionately.
But the second we judge our partners for what they are not doing or what they could be doing or how they could have done things better we lose their trust and we lose our trust in them. The story just gets bigger and bigger in our heads.
Trust me, I’ve been there and learned this one the hard way.
DO get the help you need to work out your issues.
Feeling alone is not a way out.
Feeling heard and understood is.
So if that means going through couple’s counseling then that’s the decision you need to make together. If it means taking a class on your own to get to where you need and want to be then that choice is better than the alternatives.
Building a healthy marriage is a journey and hard work. You are never fully there and it’s a life-long commitment that requires both halves to show up and give their all.
And that begins with you. Right now. In this very second. Look up from your busy life and see what you can do right now to start making different choices in how you approach your marriage.
Ready to put your marriage higher on your to-do list? Check out my latest community class — ReKindle, a 6-week home study experience to put the self-care back into your marriage.
About the Author
Shawn Fink is an author and family wellness coach for mothers around the world who long to be more present, more peaceful and more playful at home and in their life. She is the founder of The Abundant Mama Project and author of The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow. Her work has been featured internationally including in Mind Body Green, The Huffington Post, Mamalode and The Shriver Report. Get more wisdom via email by signing up below.