Ask the average couple, “How’s your marriage?” and they will pause. Some will eventually give a pat answer of “It’s good” while others will struggle with a response. But the pause is telling–few people know how to even process the question.
- Ask a coach, “How’s your team?” and they know how to answer.
- Ask your co-worker, “How are sales?” and they know how to answer.
- Ask a friend, “How’s your golf game?” and they know how to answer.
- Ask a teacher, “How’s your class?” and they know how to answer.
But ask, “How’s your marriage?” and they will fumble and stumble.
It’s because most people never look at marriage the right way. From the very beginning, they take a passive approach to their relationship, failing to understand its true nature. They treat it as though it’s out of their control. They pretend like marriage just happens.
They never view marriage as its own thing. A coach sees a team as unique. A teacher looks at a class as individuals, but also as having a collective identity. Business people often view their business like another family member. We view classes, teams, and businesses as individual entities, but we often fail to view marriage that way.
Instead, we view marriage as impacting our finances, affecting our lives, and defining our parenting, but we do not understand marriage as having its own identity. We rarely consider and evaluate our marriage in isolation.
Few things have the potential of increasing marital satisfaction as much as viewing marriage as its own entity and then prioritizing that entity properly.
1. View your marriage as its own entity. See it as its own thing. Too often, we view marriage through the lens of parenting or self or finances. We fail to view it as its own being. This poor perspective has several negative consequences:
- It puts personal responsibility at a distance.
- It leads to passivity in the relationship.
- It makes problems feel unsolvable.
- It raises the amount of blame between the couple.
- It increases the sense of helplessness for both individuals.
- It blurs boundaries lines, especially in parenting.
All of this occurs because a couple fails to see marriage for what it actually is. There is a reason marriage is often called an institution. Marriage is an entity created for a purpose. It stands alone. It’s one of the few things in my life that is so important I wear an outward sign for all to see that I am aligned with another person.
When a couple recognizes their marriage as having its own identity, it empowers the couple to take charge of the relationship. They can create the relationship they desire. It allows them to evaluate it, change it, improve it, and make it become what they desire. Until a couple views marriage in this way, they are destined to drift–and drifting rarely leads to the outcome we desire.
2. Prioritize that entity properly. Having recognized the true nature of marriage, a couple must prioritize that relationship in a way that will produce the result they want. While marriage is not the most important thing in life, there are few things of more importance. Once a couple identifies their relationship as its own thing, they can then place it in the right order of their lives. For me, its second–just above my children and right below my personal relationship with God.
By failing to recognize marriage as its own entity, couples cannot prioritize it properly. Everything ends up coming before marriage because the couple can’t see marriage for what it is. When marriage continually takes a backseat, it’s likely the couple has failed to view marriage properly.
When marriage becomes a top priority in our lives, we invest in it. Threats are identified and neutralized. Problems are confronted. Effort is extended. Skills are learned. When it’s important, we do what is necessary to make it succeed. We can’t make marriage important until we see it as having its own identity.
How’s Your Marriage?
Whenever we view marriage as its own entity and prioritize it in our lives, it has the possibility to thrive. Sadly, many couples never consider their marriage. They think about themselves and they consider other aspects of life, but they never see their marriage as its own thing.