Have you ever noticed that some couples seem to talk positive about the other spouse when they are not around? When they are seen together they appear to genuinely like each other? When there is a disagreement with anyone outside of the relationship, they take up for their spouse, even when all logic points that their spouse is wrong?
Maintaining individuality in marriage is important. Having and sharing your thoughts and feelings, enjoying different hobbies, and expressing different likes and dislikes are a part of bringing a full and complete self to your relationship. Your individuality is important in building a strong marriage.
Also having a strong sense of identity as a couple is important. Having a sense that “we” are together against the stresses of our workplace, challenges in our extended families, disagreements with neighbors, etc., is equally important. “We-ness” is knowing you have someone in your corner who has your back. It is having your spouse as your biggest fan, cheerleader and encourager. It is knowing that when the rubber meets the road, your spouse will be there.
In his groundbreaking research on healthy marriages, Dr. John Gottman found that not developing we-ness is one of the key predictors of divorce. In our work with hundreds of couples in troubled marriages through our Marriage Intensives or work with thousands of engaged and married couples in our Life Together Forever Workshops and Weekends, we have found that couples who create a sense of “us versus the world” are healthier, happier and have stronger marriages.
Couples can create “we-ness” in their marriage by intentionally engaging in the following actions:
- Check in with each other about the world outside of your relationship. Take a 5-15 minutes every day and listen to your spouse share about how their day went. Listen with the intention of learning how you can encourage, support and stand up for them. Listen without giving advice or judging what they could have done better or differently. Listen to understand the stress “out there” that they are facing. And let them know you are on their side!
- Stand up for your spouse in their absence. When you hear anyone say uncomplimentary things about your spouse or put down your spouse in any way, stand up for them. Make sure that person knows that you are on your spouse’s side and that you do not appreciate them saying negative things about him or her.
- Share an encouraging note, text or connection when you know your spouse is facing a really tough day. Dropping a handwritten note in a place they will find later in the day or send text saying, “I believe in you” or “You got this” just before that important meeting.
By taking time to intentionally engage your spouse in building “we-ness”, you will be creating the life together forever that you have always wanted. Make a commitment to take action building “we-ness” every day for two weeks and tell us how it works out for you!
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.