We just got back from our first couples’ meeting with our pastor tonight. It’s a group dinner once a month where married couples (some for a few years, some for 40 years) give advice to the newlyweds and the soon-to-be-weds.
I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first because, in general, small group religious meetings have always made me uncomfortable. In my experience, there’s usually a lot of black and white talk: right vs. wrong, heaven vs. hell, God vs. Satan. Talking about life in polar extremes makes me even more uncomfortable. I prefer to keep my spirituality more on the private side.
However, with that said, I thoroughly enjoyed all that I learned tonight. While our pastor and the two married couples made dozens of excellent, thoughtful points throughout the night, I’ll stick to the ones that resonated with me the most:
Your partner learns and grows in his or her spirituality in his or her own way. Accept that. Don’t expect him or her to be in the same place as you are at the same time or learn the same way you do.
I loved this because a few weeks ago, Mr. Man and I had a big discussion on our different spiritual paths and how we got to where we each are now. Although we were both raised “in the church,” he had a very different experience through his church than I did growing up. Obviously, that shaped different views toward it, and spirituality in general, for each of us.
By sharing our experiences, we better understood one another’s views on spirituality. We also came to realize that, in the end, we both have the same ultimate belief and faith, and that’s what matters most.
Marriage is your opportunity to treat your spouse as (insert religious deity of preference here) treats you.
I liked that the man sharing this chose the word “opportunity” here. He didn’t say “duty” or “obligation.” Most experiences, including marriage, are what you make of them. It’s up to you to take the opportunity and use it to provide unconditional love, support, and devotion to your partner. Because as with most things in life, you get what you give.
Focus more on what’s best for your partner instead of what’s best for you.
This goes in line with the last piece of advice. When you become locked into thinking only about yourself, and you shut out your partner, your relationship suffers. When you focus on your partner, and ways to support him or her, your relationship flourishes. It’s all about the law of reciprocity.
Set aside quiet, personal time for spiritual growth.
We need time away from our partners. That’s no secret; but part of that time alone also needs to be spent on our spiritual development. Once we get things back into perspective on a personal level, then we can …
Set aside time to reflect and compare where you both are on your spiritual path together.
Periodically check in with each other to congratulate yourselves on what you’re doing right, and acknowledge the areas that need improvement.
I know Mr. Man and I both thought tonight’s meeting enriched our relationship. We were really glad we went. However, we both could be doing more spiritual growth on our own and sharing our experiences in those areas with each other more often.
I accomplished all three of my most important things for today:
- We went to the couples’ meeting (if you couldn’t tell).
- I wrote a thank-you note.
- I did laundry.
Tomorrow’s 3 Most Important Things:
- Safely pick up my friends from LAX. (They’re back from their romantic anniversary vacation to Jamaica!)
- Set aside 15 minutes to meditate and focus on my spiritual growth and development. (Hopefully, I can work on making this a habit, much like I have writing these posts on an almost-daily basis.)
- Write a thank-you note.