Frankly speaking, almost all of us are quite immature when we get married, which can lead to a lot of hurt and confusion in the relationship. Whether you were married very young before you really knew how to care for yourself or someone else, or you’ve been married for 40 years and know each other extremely well, there is always room for growth and maturity. Working on yourself and together with your spouse to mature together will be necessary in your mutual journey. And including God in this process of growth will be even more beneficial.
The Fantasy of Marriage
When you are preparing for marriage or newly married, you often have fantasies of what marriage should look like. A lot of the time, you only see the good parts of others marriages and relationships because that is all they show other people. This may lead you to feel like the joyful blissful parts of marriage are how all marriages are, and when issues arise you can start to feel like something is wrong in your relationship and like you may not have found the right person to share in the bliss of marriage with.
About a year into Dana’s marriage, she and her husband realized that they had both been unfaithful to each other. There had been lying, deceiving, and other dishonesty on both ends of their marriage. When this happened, it was a huge moment of truth to them. Dana had been unfaithful emotionally, relying on a previous high school relationship to be her rock, while her husband had been unfaithful sexually.
Because of the differences in their unfaithfulness, Dana felt justified in her actions. She felt that since she hadn’t “gone all the way” so to speak, that her husband was more in the wrong than her, and that she could go do whatever she wanted at this point. She quickly realized, however, that this simply wasn’t the kind of person who she wanted to be. She didn’t want to be disloyal, a liar, or someone with a lack of integrity. And this is when she decided to start coming to the Lord, to commit to Him. It still took some time after this to fully commit, and even more time for her husband to turn to God, but this realization of who she really was, is what started her journey in the right direction.
“My response is my responsibility.” This sentence comes from Emerson Eggerich’s book, Love and Respect, and became a sort of motto for Dana. She realized that justifying her poor actions because her husband had behaved poorly was completely unacceptable. We have to take responsibility for our own actions, and not blame the other person for the way that we are behaving. You can choose the way you respond to a situation, and so can your spouse.
We need to be careful not to allow unrealistic fantasies to cloud our views when it comes to marriage or really any other relationship. Realizing that there will be many joyful, blissful moments in our relationships, but there will also be many struggles and hardships. We will have to learn how to help each other through the hard times that come and allow each other to grow at our own pace.
When Dana Che and her husband started having issues in their marriage, they really started to look closer at what their issues were that were causing them to drift apart. The biggest issues were they were acting immaturely and manipulating each other constantly. When they got married, Dana was 18 years old and her new husband was 21. They hadn’t learned how to take care of and love themselves, so learning to take care of and love another person in the way that marriage required was extremely difficult. Turning to God was the way that Dana found to grow together and become better while overcoming those immature tendencies.
The process of turning to God wasn’t an easy one for Dana, as it isn’t for many people. It took a lot of hard work and focus. Dana truly had to take responsibility for her actions. She had to be willing to admit that she had been wrong, and that there was a better, holier way to live. This led her to a lot of growth and maturing. And this is how she learned to not always be manipulating her husband and others.
Part of maturing in your relationship is to realize that you can’t force someone to come on to your side in a fight. You can’t make someone agree with you on every decision. And you can’t make someone be transformed in God just because you are. Realizing where you are comparing your spouse to yourself and stopping your attempts to make them act the same way you do will make a world of a difference when it comes to creating a mature marriage together. If you think you are absolutely right when it comes to a conflict, take a minute to step back and look at the situation from further away. Give yourself some time to see how you and others are feeling. And then approach the discussion again with an open mind. You may be surprised to realize why your spouse is behaving the way they are!
You Have Value
Another aspect to maturing in your relationship is to be aware of your own value. If you know that you have value, you can make it through anything that life throws your way. Dr. Brene Brown, a well known American researcher, conducted a study that looked at the value people hold about themselves and how that affects their ability to grow and work through tough situations. She took a look at thousands of people who had come out of truly awful life situations, and dug into their attitudes and lifestyle. Ultimately, she found that people fell largely into two different categories- those that thrived through these experiences and those that allowed themselves to be crippled by their experiences.
The big difference between these two groups of people? The ones who thrived through the tough experiences that life threw at them recognized their self worth. They knew they had intrinsic value, they didn’t have to rely on anyone else to hold their value or their worth for them. They felt good enough as a person, and this allowed them to thrive through the trials they went through. Intrinsic value will allow us to become the people we need to be, and allow us to grow through what we go through.
Fear of the Unknown
It’s scary to not know what we don’t know. The unknown is a place of uncertainty and doubt, causing us to doubt not only ourselves, but those we love and claim to trust completely. When we start to doubt, we allow ourselves to start seeing things in a negative light, even if they aren’t actually there. We start to place blame on other people for our circumstances and what is happening instead of owning up to our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions. We need to realize that in order to start healing through our marital mishaps, we need to take responsibility for who we are and what we do.
A big part of making it through the unknown is being self aware. Self awareness is the ability to consciously recognize your own character and feelings. You need to learn to see and understand yourself before you can see and understand others. Figure out what your beliefs are. Take a deep look at who you are as a person, look at where you came from and the beliefs that were instilled into you. Then realize which of those beliefs and practices you still hold dear and if there are any you may want to get rid of, or any that you want to add to your belief system. At the end of the day, you need to know who you are! If you don’t know what you believe in, how are you supposed to stand up for anything? Allow yourself to learn more about who you are and what you believe so that you can make it past all the unknown in life.
Times and Seasons
Understand that there are times and seasons in a marriage. Sometimes you just aren’t going to be in the mood, and sometimes you always are. You may feel strongly about something at one point in your marriage, and completely change your mind on this topic later on. Realize that this is normal. It is completely acceptable, and even expected, to have ebbs and flows in your marriage. Times when you agree and disagree with your spouse. A good marriage gives grace for those seasons of disagreement, but doesn’t leave those seasons unattended.
While realizing that these times and seasons are going to happen and allowing them to come and go is going to be essential to a healthy marriage, don’t ignore the seasons of contention. Find ways to work through the hard times, and if needed, seek professional help. Your spouse is more than just a body or something to meet your needs. They are a full human person with emotions and feelings that you get the privilege of caring for in every way. You will learn what it truly means to love each other by caring for the whole person that you’re married to.
You can learn more about Dana Che, her journey, and her coaching services by visiting her at her website at danache.com. She has her own podcast you can check out as well at realrelationshiptalk.com. Or go follow her on Instagram at @danachewilliams.
Like what you read? Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode here! And be sure to download the Intimately Us app, the fun and sexy app for your marriage! It’s full of games, connecting activities, and ideas to increase connection and pleasure in the bedroom.