My parents divorced when I was 6yrs old. My mom remarried not long after and my dad is happily married to his 3rd wife. So to say that I've been haunted by unsuccessful marriages in my life is an understatement. The hardships I saw my parents go through along with the pain and challenges my sister and I overcame because of divorce, definitely contributed to my fear of abandonment and fuelled my desire to have a successful marriage with my husband, Cam. A marriage we both stepped into, agreeing that growth and a commitment to work on our relationship came as a priority. Because of this, I have read many different books on marriage and gone to a variety of different relationship weekend retreats, masculine and feminine type of seminars to assist in the growth of our marriage. All were beneficial, however it wasn't until I came across John Gottman's work that things really started to shift for me. Particularly what John Gottman says in his book, Seven principles for making a marriage work; "you must strengthen the friendship that is at the heart of every marriage".
Friendship, hmmmmm. Now that got me thinking. It wasn't that I needed to be sexier, or let go of my personal ambitions. It wasn't about tending more to his needs, or sacrificing my yoga time for more "couple" time. It's about building a strong friendship. This was something I could do. This actually sounded like something I wanted to do.
So I've been thinking a lot about friendship. What does it mean to be a "good" friend? What characteristics do you look for in friends?
What else do you do when you have a question like this? Post it on Facebook, of course. Which is exactly what I did. The posting got a ton of hits and I heard people describe characteristics of a good friend as, honest, trustworthy, respectful, authentic, able to be vulnerable, be supportive and love unconditionally.
Working on my friendship with my husband seems easier and more accessible because John Gottman is right, there's already a foundation there to pull on. That's why we got married in the first place. When I remember my husband is my friend, instead of another person I'm responsible for, or another person I have to cater to, I find myself naturally more generous, kind and loving. I find myself sincerely curious how his day was or what he wants to do over the weekend. When I remember that my husband is first my friend, I remember how excited I am to live life so closely with him. That our friendship is the bond to our family and the teacher to our daughter. Gets me excited about our relationship and motivated to deepen our friendship.
By no means am I a relationship counsellor, teacher or expert and am not claiming to be, however I do know that when I'm reminded why I've made the choices I've made, whether it's my commitment to my husband or dedicated to my yoga practice, I re-ignited a fire within me that confirms that decision.
So whether you're working to strengthen your marriage or stay committed to your yoga practice, may you come back to the reasons why you began in the first place. Come back to the foundation of that relationship and work from there. When I return to the essence of why, I'm filled with the drive to stay on this path, whatever path that may be.
From my heart to yours,