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Recently my son got married. In preparation for the ceremony, he asked if any family members wanted to say something. My answer was yes, but I wasn’t sure what I’d want to say. I thought perhaps I’d read a poem, but nothing I looked at felt right. Then I realized that I’d like to share my reflections about what I thought was important about living your life with each other. How do you nurture the “we- ness’ of a relationship as well as maintain a sense of independence? Both are important and needed. We are not one or the other—we are interdependent. We can’t give over everything to another or we lose ourselves, nor can we focus solely on ourselves or we lose the intimacy of connection. Below are my thoughts on how to lovingly relate and care for one another throughout marriage.
1. Love with abandon. Articulate the things that are special about one another. It is a gift to see ourselves reflected positively through another’s eyes.
2. Notice each other’s thoughtful gestures. Comment on them because they build a sense of being valued and appreciated.
3. Perfect your ability to communicate well so you can feel heard. Communication comes from the Latin communicare-to make one. Understanding another’s point of view joins us together.
4. Accept that misunderstandings happen. You are two different people with different life experiences who won’t always see things the same way. Learn to ignore small annoyances. It’s an act of grace. But if something is truly bothersome, address it quickly so things don’t fester or grow bigger.
5. Be quick to apologize. Take full responsibility for your actions and make amends.
6. Encourage each other to dream big and help one another keep those dreams alive.
7. Nurture your relationship. Give it time and attention. Make space to catch up and connect on a regular basis.
8. Deepen your intimacy by sharing vulnerabilities so you can experience your relationship as a safe place to be supported and loved.
9. And above all, make your relationship a place of joy. Have fun, create adventures, surprise one another, be silly. Find humor in everyday things. Life is not as serious as we think, so look for the charm in life, be grateful for what you have and cultivate pleasure and ease together.