Doesn’t it seem like our western culture is on an endless quest to find happiness? We’re always looking for the next thing that will
Creating a meaningful life is not a one-size-fits-all formula. We all have different interests, passions, experiences, and wiring. This means that the things that are meaningful to me, might not mean anything to you. Jer and I find meaning by investing in experiences and travel. You might find meaning by building a comfortable home where you can nurture and entertain loved ones. Both are equally valuable.
A meaningful marriage will look different for all of us. For me and Jer, it looks like good health, freedom, connection, and adventure. Have you defined what a meaningful marriage would look like to you?
No matter what it looks like, the five lessons I share in this post will help you create more meaning and connection. While this article is specifically about marriage, these tips can help nurture any relationship. So whether you’re a single guy looking for the one, newlyweds enjoying your first year of marital bliss, a couple who’ve been stuck in a rut, or a busy single mom, this post is for you.
Wherever you are right now, we all start in the same place, defining what a meaningful life and relationship means to you. Before you continue, take a moment to come up with three words that make things meaningful. If you need help figuring it out, check out this post.
Jer and I celebrated 15 years of marriage and 19 years together a few days before I published this article. In anticipation of our big day, we sat down and discussed all of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. S
Let me start by saying that it’s not always perfect. I’ve shared openly about fights we continually repeat, how we deal with disagreements about finances, and how we support each other even when we don’t agree. I value these imperfections as much as the good times. It’s in these difficult moments that we often find the most clarity and growth.
This is an important reminder for this perfectly filtered, always on, social-media-driven world we live in. Just like everyone else, our lives and marriage aren’t perfect.
That said, it’s not an act either. We grow closer each day in good times and bad. We’ve created a life and marriage that are more meaningful than we could ever have imagined. And I can honestly say that we are grateful each day. So without further ado, here are …
5 Ways to Build a More Meaningful Marriage
5 – Choose Your Battles Wisely
As I mentioned in the beginning, Jer and I worked on this project together. And Jer wants me to tell you he said, “Let your wife win.”
All joking aside, it’s a give and take for both of us. Jer’s much more laid back than I am. He could care less about most things (which drives me nuts sometimes). When he does care, however, he’s become very good at making it known. In those moments, the wife rarely wins.
Learning to be direct and say what you want is important in any relationship. This is easier for some people than others. But I’ve never met anyone who is married to a mind reader. If you expect your partner to instinctively know what you want, you might also want to prepare to be disappointed.
Choosing your battles is necessary because the people we live with intimately see our very best of and our very worst. It’s easy to let that bad day at work roll into your home life. Approach these situations with empathy and remember that it’s almost always better to be kind than to be right.
This doesn’t mean avoiding conflict. Every disagreement is a learning opportunity. It’s the opportunity to be honest, even when it’s hard. The opportunity to admit when you’re wrong and be generous with forgiveness. It’s a great opportunity to leave past mistakes in the past.
4 – Take Interest
Take interest in some of your spouse’s interests. Take up your own interests. And pursue interests together.
The happiest couples have shared hobbies and also venture out on their own. Jer and I got lucky and discovered early on that we both love adventures. One of the reasons we’ve been successful with this is that we’ve both been open to trying new things.
Yet we have plenty of friends who have told us that shared interests have been more difficult for them. Here’s what I suggest.
Lead by example and take interest in one of your partner’s hobbies. Then next time you head out to enjoy an activity you love, invite them to come along. Be okay if they initially say no. You can’t expect to love ALL the same things. If they do agree and don’t enjoy it, continue to invite them here and there. It’s often the most unexpected things that grow on us. Don’t forget to explore new interests the two of you might enjoy together.
Be patient and enjoy the process. Jer and I have a lot of shared interests, but this is 15 years in the making. Focus on having fun and c
3 – Focus Becomes Reality
What we choose to focus on becomes our reality. If we choose to focus on the negative news, our lives will become more negative. If we choose to focus on our partner’s flaws, they’ll slowly become more and more flawed.
I don’t know if you can relate to this but I tend to think that my way is THE way. I’m very organized, type A, competitive, direct, and disciplined. My husband is my perfect opposite. While I have a decade’s worth of perfect budgets, I’m elated if he gets me all of his receipts for the month.
It’s easy for me to create the perfect plan, budget, vacation, and spice rack. I could care less about having a social life. Don’t get me wrong, I love people. But I also love books, spreadsheets and sitting at home in my pajamas (or alone in the woods) indefinitely.
Jer, on the other hand, is the definition of charisma. He’s outgoing and loved by everyone. This is one of his superpowers and has been a blessing to our lives in countless ways.
Rather than focusing on the things my husband isn’t great at, I choose to focus on where he shines. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without his enthusiasm and drive to connect. He is my perfect compliment and our natural skills and abilities are an ideal fit.
If you want to learn more about your family’s strengths, I highly recommend investing in Personality Snapshots from Mama Says Namaste. Ashley is a top expert and will provide the best resources to help you understand you and your spouse like never before.
2 – Grow Together
One of the biggest complaints I hear from spouses is, “he doesn’t want to grow,” or “she doesn’t like change.” It can be frustrating when one person is growth focused and the other is comfortable where they’re at. Just like the
Before you start pointing your finger, invest in yourself first. Is it fair to complain about your spouse’s health when you’re not doing your best to take care of yours? Carve out time throughout your day to invest in your health, education, spirituality, and personal growth. When you let your best light shine, your significant other will follow suit if it’s the right fit for them.
Once you have a handle on your own self-care, start investing in your marriage. Invest time, money, energy, and emotion to take your marriage from good to great. Read books, attend marriage classes, go on dates, travel, and celebrate life together. This is the most important relationship you will have with another human. Be intentional about what you’re putting in.
Be supportive of your spouse’s needs and desires. Encourage them to pursue their dreams and passions. Enjoy every moment of this journey you’ve been blessed to take together.
Don’t forget to say “I love you.”
1 – Be a United Front
First and foremost, we are Team Scherer. That means that what is right for our little family always comes first. Our marriage, household, future goals, and finances are all a team effort. All of our greatest accomplishments in life are the result of working as a team. Accomplishing these goals together has built confidence and brought us closer together.
To be the best team, you need to talk about what you want your life to look like. It’s essential to know what your family values. You don’t have to agree on everything and your dreams will likely transform over time. Still, you need to have the conversation, again and again.
You get to create a home-life that’s unique to you. You don’t have to do what your parents did. You get to make all of these decisions together.
Our home is a safe space that nurtures the needs of everyone in it. That means we say no to anything that disrupts that peace. And we always do it as a united front.
Being a united front gets easier with time. The more you work to solve problems together, the more you’ll agree. You’ll also be able to anticipate detours and prepare a response you both agree on.
Relationships aren’t always easy but they bring an abundance of meaning to our lives. It’s these challenges and connections that help us grow into the very best versions of ourselves. Whether you’re married or not, I encourage you to pick one of these tips to bring into your relationships today. Whether you choose to pick your battles, take