We expect our spouse to make us feel loved and valued, while also expecting him or her to help us discover and actualize our best self — to spur us to become, as Tom Cruise’s titular character in “Jerry Maguire” puts it, “the me I’d always wanted to be.” - Gray Matter, NYT Sept. 8, 2017
I just read a really fascinating article in the opinion section of the New York Times entitled How to Fix the Person You Love by Gray Matter that deals with the modern expectations that couples have of each other. This idea really strikes home for me and Kerri because while we definitely do an above average job of loving and accepting each other...we haven't always done the best job at bringing out the best in each other.
Diet, exercise and taking care of ourselves in general has been one of our great battles. We can lump finances in this category as well. Basically we have great intentions but then when it actually comes down to saying "NO!" Forgetaboutit...
To make us feel loved and valued, our spouse must convey appreciation for the person we currently are. To help us grow, he or she must emphasize the discrepancy between that person and the person we can ideally become, typically by casting a sober, critical eye on our faults.
I've always loved the verse in the Bible that says something like "godliness with contentment is great gain." I've broken that down to mean the following. Godliness which would seem to me indicate a process or a ladder that is never ending. Will I ever truly be godly? On the other side is contentment. The ability to love where you are, to love what you have, to fully accept things without requiring them to be different. This is also goal that is quite a stretch for some people and most definitely me, especially with myself. But the secret seems to come not when you achieve just the one but both. It says, great gain, happens when you have both.
I picture it like a ladder. Where you will never reach the top, but we should be further along than where we started, while at the same time being able to appreciate and accept where we are in the process.
Somehow I think this fits in this expectation around marriage. Can we understand and acknowledge that I'm not there yet, I'm still in the process of growing. My selfish condition still has meat left on the bone and yet I'm certainly not the boy/man I used to be.
Perhaps we’ll conclude that we would rather have a comfortable life than an ambitious one, or vice versa...
the spouse-as-everything model...requires that the couple continually recalibrate their behavior, adopting tenderness or tough love as the situation requires.
I guess it's time we up our game, babe! Or should I say, Coach? Do you mind passing me the cookies?
Ultimately it is about doing a good job of communicating along the journey. There will be times when I need and want the tough love, and then there will be times I need it but don't want it and vice, versa. That's when it gets complicated and the calibration will get tested.
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