I’ve lived in Florida all my life. Over the years, I’ve seen massive tropical storms and punishing hurricanes wash away the sands of our beautiful beaches and the homes that are built on them. When the storm tide rises and the waves pound our shores, the damage is severe and not much lasts. In the same way, if your marriage is built on shifting sand it probably won’t last very long either. It’s only a matter of time before the crushing waves of disappointment; sorrow, or bitterness wash away that marital foundation.
In their new book, Uncommon Marriage, Tony and Lauren Dungy address how couples start building their relationship on sinking sand. They write, “So many problems in marriage occur when spouses notice that the intense physical attraction is no longer there and assume that must mean that the love is gone. They figure either they’ve changed or the other person has changed, but in any event, they’re no longer getting the instant emotional payoff they had at first.”
So how can you avoid that false thinking and build a rock solid foundation for your relationship? Here are 3 ways to build a firm foundation for your marriage.
1. Don’t rely on feelings.
As a spouse, you are called to love even when you don’t ‘feel love.’ Understand that love is a choice you must make every day, not a feeling that will happen upon you for the rest of your life. Tony and Lauren further write in their book, “To endure, it’s got to be built on a solid commitment to the other person and the life you’ve built with each other rather than on your feelings, which may go up and down.”
2. Realize it takes two.
In my blog post, 12 Things That Can Cause Marriage Failure, I said, “You see your spouse’s faults and failures every day. It’s really irritating and frustrating you. They’re messy, they’re lazy, they nag you, they don’t help with the kids, they’re always at work. You think you’ve done all the changing and they haven’t done a thing.”
Well, if you’re constantly feeling unsatisfied emotionally with your marriage, maybe it’s time to consider whether your mind-set is the issue. Oftentimes, we are quick to put the blame on our spouse and the ways in which they fall short of our expectations. I know I’ve been guilty of that in my marriage. Over the years, I’ve learned that I need to spend more time looking inward at my attitude and my behavior than outward at my wife Susan’s. I need to focus on what I need to change to make our relationship better. That’s much easier to say than to do. It’s something that I always need to be reminded of in our marriage.
3. Prepare for the long run.
In Uncommon Marriage, Coach Dungy compares falling and staying in love to playing a football game. “You start off with energy fueled by adrenaline for the opening kickoff. The whistle blows and you find yourself flying down the field 100 miles per hour. But you don’t have enough adrenaline in your body to keep the emotion at that level for sixty minutes. You have to calm down a little bit and play the rest of the game.”
So establish a game plan that will last for the long run and build that plan upon these 7 truths about marriage.
A firm foundation must always be built with patience and endurance. What are some other ways you and your spouse have worked to build a firm foundation for you marriage? Please share your comments below.
Listen to my exclusive podcast interview with Tony Dungy about his newest book Uncommon Marriage.