Appreciative Marriage: Built ot Last

The “Built to Last” Marriage

In great marriages the couple build their relationship. In mediocre or failed marriages couples describe the relationship as something they have rather than invest in and co-create. The secret to successful management of relationships lies in the word “build”. To build successfully, you need to have a clear plan. This plan needs to be based on what both participants want

While one hopes that Providence will provide the material wherewithal, the actual process of building is the responsibility of the couple and cannot be left to anything outside of their personal agency and power.

Good marriages are created and have to be consciously maintained, they do not just happen – regardless of the appropriateness or otherwise of the match. But many people grow up in homes which often did not exemplify or model the type of relationship that they wish to create, and they did not experience and were not educated in how to create or maintain long-term committed intimate relationships.

We live in a society that is in flux, in the process of questioning and redefining long held values and meanings about marriage and relationships. Previous certainties and taken for granted values have lost their hold on the modern world.

Affluence and privilege give us time, sophistication and exposure to many possibilities and choices that inform our expectations of relationships. As a consequence, people now expect a new type and quality of relationship with no clear definition of what that would be, or what values or approaches are needed in order to create such relationships.

Dissatisfaction in marriage is often more of a reflection of the idealistic expectations of the parties than the possibilities available to the average couple. The frustration, pain and disappointment that people suffer in relationships are a reflection of the great demands and expectations being placed upon modern relationships. One has to have a higher meaning for why one puts up with the hardships and negative feelings like hurt, frustration or disappointment that are an inevitable part of marriage.

Making an Investment Every Day

In order to be able to maintain focus and commitment, the parties in the marriage need to have an overriding value or ideal that guides their investment and their purpose. To achieve ideals takes tenacity, commitment and work – rather being a natural spontaneous consequence of having chosen the right marriage partner as the western value system would have people believe. In other words, good marriages are built.

Marriages based on timeless values are marriages built to last. It is important to invest in the process of building the relationship and not the outcome – for with the proper investment of time, energy and intention the outcome will take care of itself. Each day needs to be a day of investing a little more in the relationship. By staying focused on the higher purpose of the relationship one is able to transcend and rise above the irritations and frustrations of the day.

In order to build a marriage, the couple needs to know what exactly it is that they are building. This means knowing what type of culture they wish to have in their relationship, what will be expressed through that culture and what disciplines and practices will support those values.

For example:

  • you cannot create a respectful or peaceful home if people indulge in raising voices.
  • you cannot have intimacy if people try to control each other.
  • you cannot have a sense of safety and of a home being a haven if people police or criticise each other.

Relationships as a Reflection of Values & Ideals

No two people will respond to the same situation in the same way, or need the same things all of the time. Relationships have to be initiated and maintained in a conscious manner that reflects the most deeply held values and ideals of the participants and that reflects each person’s preferred ways of being.

Relationships need to be created in ways that allow both participants to feel equally at home in the relationship, to feel that their voices count equally in the relationship.

• This means that marriage requires the constant management of negative feelings like frustration, disappointment and irritation in order to maximise on what is good and works well in the relationship.

• If your intention is to truly create peace in the home, to love and honour your spouse, then you need to invest energy and thought into what you value and appreciate about your spouse.

• Paying attention to all the good that the other does for you, even indirectly and all day, helps to maintain the feeling of abundance in the relationship and the desire to give back and pour out love to your spouse; to this end, cultivating and honouring the value of gratitude is an essential key to a good marriage.

• Kindness, compassion, loyalty, reverence, devotion and respect are values that need to be deeply understood and consciously cultivated, honoured and protected in a marriage. Gossip, badmouthing criticism and complaining are examples of poison that can destroy a marriage. Judgments, criticism, conditionality all contaminate the spirit and atmosphere of the home.

• Maintain places for the relationship that are sacred and insulated from stress or the concerns of the outside world. Keep the dining table for positive conversations and for family members to share and have time to be appreciative of each other. Never discuss work or stressful subjects in bed – if you need to argue, do it in the bathroom or the garage.

• Investing in your own growth is an investment for the relationship. For example, keeping yourself inspired means that you bring inspiration into the relationship.

• Self-knowledge is the most empowering personal attribute in creating effective relationships. Self-knowledge includes awareness and understanding of your values, expectations and ideas in relationships. Self-knowledge also includes being aware and honest about your deeper motives and intentions that inform your perceptions and reactions in a relationship. Understanding yourself is a necessary prerequisite to properly understanding others and honestly and consciously managing your participation in relationships.


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