If you are like me, you tire listening to political arguments well before voting day arrives. What makes the arguments so tiring is how the opponents must strive to make the argument about taking sides.
We are actually wired to respond to such arguments. Before food became plentiful, it was important for groups to band together to cooperate in hunting food. The lone wolf would die from starvation. So today you can look around and see all types of groups in which you belong. These groups may form around social, religious, ethnic, racial or family identities.
When such identities are formed, they are then protected. Even as differences are small, they can create much heat in debating those differences. The differences become important because they mark the unique identity of the group.
Marital arguments can assume a similar me versus you stance. You argue to protect your unique views, feelings and desires. “How much of me do I have to give up to be with you?” Such differences can become so large that we label a reason to divorce as “irreconcilable differences”.
The basis of a strong bond in marriage must begin with the development of a strong “we”. This “we” is something that is part of each partner’s individual identity. He or she describes the relationship as important to his or her partner, family and friends.
Nurturing the “we” also requires special effort to foster mutually enjoyable time together, verbal and nonverbal messages of belonging, and celebration of the “we”.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I let my partner know how important are relationship is to my identity?
- Do I offer messages that identify the important role my marriage plays in my identity?
- Do you take time to nurture the relationship, both through setting up mutually enjoyable activities and by setting aside time to nurture understanding by sharing your views, feelings, and desires.
- Do your children, extended family and friends hear you describe your relationship as something you value?
- Do you celebrate the “we” once a year or several times a month?