The challenges of marriage escape very few and is nothing new. It’s as relevant today as it has been for decades. The divorce rate speaks to this and can be intimidating to newlyweds or to those in a challenging season of marriage. One of marriage’s challenges is the vulnerability between you and your spouse. Your spouse becomes the one person who is closest to your accomplishments, insecurities, failures, challenges, goals, good days, bad days, and baggage from your past (we all have baggage).
This space of incredible vulnerability gives access for potential hurt and sadness, just as much as joy and celebration. Sometimes it feels like your spouse is the only one in your corner and other times it feels like they’re the only one who can hurt you so deeply. Because of range of emotional space shared between you and your spouse, it’s important that you are a strong and confident individual for two main reasons – during times of conflict, a strong individual can 1) objectively understand a situation and contribute to a healthy solution and 2) can support their partner when needed.
In this article we discuss how to strengthen yourself to improve your marriage by:
- Resolving your past pains
- Initiating self-development habits
Resolving Past Pains
The beginning of becoming a stronger individual is to resolve past pains. When hurts go unresolved, they can show up in your marriage in forms of anger, resentment, short tempers, distrust, or bad attitudes – none of which bring positivity into your marriage. Also, when we lack self-love, we don’t put our relationship with Christ front and center in our lives. This becomes challenging when we attempt to resolve these past pains, as there are some pains that only God’s grace can heal us from.
A great way to work through past pain is by mind mapping. For those unfamiliar, mind mapping is a three-in-one approach to organizing the intangibles (your thoughts and emotions). First, it’s a brain dump to purge your mind. Then, you organize and analyze to identifying root causes to current behavior. Lastly, you form an actionable plan to put those things to rest and work towards a more positive future.
A great resource is A Woman’s Guide to Mind Mapping for Emotional Healing. Use this link to receive a copy of this resource at a reduced rate. This will walk you through step by step and includes templates that you can print and complete or easily re-create for immediate use when a printer is not available.
Another resource is this article on mind mapping. Use either or both resources to complete a mind mapping session, specific to you!
Forming Self-Development Habits
Once you work through emotional healing, you can focus on strengthening and building yourself as an individual. Think of it as investing in yourself. Self-development establishes and builds a foundation of self-worth, confidence, servitude, maturity, and faith – all of which add positivity to your marriage.
The challenge to this is that everyone has their own self-development needs. For this purpose, we will dive into some groundwork and then follow up with a method to help you continue to find additional resources that can be tailored to your needs.
As mentioned, marriage can become an unexpected source of vulnerability in your life. For the first set of resources, I encourage you to watch these talks by Brene Brown on her study of vulnerability and shame. You may ask, “what does this have to do with me?” As you work through resolving your past pains and building on a strong foundation, it’s important to know that growth can feel uncomfortable. Resolving past pains and moving into new territory can feel uncomfortable. This discomfort is vulnerability. Brene talks about why it’s important to embrace it and how to do so. From there, you can understand how to use vulnerability as a positive within your marriage and in other areas of your life!
Both of these are her talks recorded on YouTube and vary in length (about 30 minutes each). If need be, bookmark this page to come back and watch as needed.
The next set of resources are quick reads to jumpstart your focus. Both are articles that focus on self-development and provide biblical references to help build your confidence. Again, bookmark and come back as needed.
Lastly, this resource is powerful! If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so. This is a talk by Jordan Peterson that summarizes his book called The 12 Rules for Life. This clip is over an hour, but so worth your time. Jordan dissects important awareness’s and truths that we need to embrace in order to handle the volatility of life. Please make time to watch this clip. I know you will have significant take aways!
Self-development is never ending. There are always skills you can learn, things you can refine, etc. Self-development is also a way to educate yourself on the challenges within your marriage. When you take time to reflect on your relationship, your spouse and yourself, you are better able to observe and educate yourself on the true reasons behind your strengths and weaknesses.
To make this a habit, start making a daily “quiet time” for yourself. This might be before the family wakes up, during your lunch break or after everyone goes to bed. The goal is to be in a mental state of focus. During this quiet time, reflect on your relationship and self to identify areas that you would like more knowledge. Mind mapping can be used for this as well. The brainstorming will help prioritize what topic to research next.
If you need some help on how to develop a quiet time, check out these tips:
Once you have your topic (for example: showing grace in marriage, how to respect your spouse, etc.), do one search on YouTube and one search on Google to learn more. Something helpful that I always do is add “Christian” at the end of my search. This tends to bring up more biblically-based search results, which is what I’m after! Another great tips is type in your favorite pastor’s name after your search. This will bring up content on your topic that they have spoken or written about. Some of my go-to’s are TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, James McDonald and Sarah Jakes Roberts.
During your quiet time, review these two resources. If you like to journal, write down your take aways and how you can apply this knowledge. The goal is to become a stronger and more Christ-like. When we see our spouse the way Christ does and love the way Christ does, our faith, self and marriage will continue to grow stronger!