Would you call your relationship good or would you call it great? A great relationship isn't the product of a storybook tale that just happens when a fairy godmother waves her magic wand. They happen because you take charge and you make it happen. To have a great relationship, you need to be great.
The things you accomplish do not define greatness, but how you accomplish them makes a huge difference. So how can you be great in your relationship? First and foremost, does your spouse know where they stand with you? Do they feel adored? Do they know they come first? Do you tell them you don't have time for them? When you're great to your partner, they feel it and more often than not - they reciprocate it.
Selfish Patterns of Desire
As a species, we are naturally selfish. Our desires are strong - it's that selfish desire to be with our partners that likely flared when you first met them or began to date them. The need to please each other often meant giving in to each other's selfish desires, but part of building a great relationship comes from putting your partner first and squashing selfishness when it comes to deciding what course of action you will take.
In great marriages, your focus is on your partnership in all things. Those connections are not ignored in parenting decisions, financial decisions or career decisions. Your focus should not be on the temporal pleasures of the moment - yes, going out to the movies with your friends may seem like a fantastic time, but what does your spouse think? Do I mean you need to subjugate every decision to your spouse? No, but it's a form of courtesy, consideration and caring to ask them if they mind.
My husband enjoys going out with his co-workers and friends. But he doesn't make major plans without consulting me and often finding a way to include me if I want to go along. He is thinking of our partnership first, before his own desire. If I really wanted to do something at the same time with him or if there were plans that we wanted to go - say to the same film as a couple - that takes precedence over these other plans.
Don't Be Self-Centered
When you are self-centered in your marriage and your choices in that marriage, you tend to be very lonely. Selfishness is one of the worst flaws you can bring into a marriage and while selfishness is a necessary part of our existence, recognizing that it can hamper our relationships is an important step. Remember, selfish doesn't have to mean you are mean or mean-spirited, it just means you think of yourself first.
First and foremost, take a look at how you make your decisions and your choices - do you just go and do something, because asking for forgiveness is easier than asking permission?
Do you make plans with your friends and your co-workers, but cite the need to work or other plans when your spouse does the same so you don't have to go with them?
Do you decide what bills will get paid, choosing your own personal entertainments for the excess spending rather than compromising with your spouse on their choices?
We're going to talk more about this trend for building a great marriage out of a 'good' one or an 'okay' one over the next few days - but take a look at how you make your choices and your decisions. Do you think about your spouse, do you ask for their input? Do you take that input seriously? Or are your decisions selfish?