The reasons for getting married are similar to the reasons for building a nest—safety and support; and like a nest, a marriage is only as effective as you make it. Some nests are simple indentations in the ground while others are elaborate works of art that shelters and protects. Similarly, some marriages are contracts of convenience while others are committed partnership full of love, friendship and collaboration.
How would you describe your marriage?
More importantly, what kind of marriage do you want? And most importantly, what are you willing to do to have the marriage you want? If your marriage is one with sturdy branches, layers of leaves and feathers; if you have a strong, loving and supportive marriage, then keep doing what you’re doing.
If on the other hand, you want to strengthen your love nest, start by looking at it. You can view branches as deeds and actions— dependability and support are the main characteristics of this layer; maintaining a consistent income, caring for the house, the car, the kids and pets. Leaves can be viewed as the day to day niceties, the friendship and kindness layer—saying please, thank you, I’m sorry, you’re right, bring your partner a snack or beverage, smiling at each other, eating and sleeping together, complimenting and encouraging each other, little kisses or holding hands. And feathers can be seen as the supportive safety layer that set your marriage apart from any other relationship in your life, your soft safe haven from the rest of the world—so kisses lasting longer than 15 seconds, hugs that hold you when you feel like you’re falling apart, sexual intimacy, dates, shared banking accounts, shared dreams, shared values, shared vacations, shared concerns, shared joys, shared pains, shared losses, shared celebrations and share adventures… So much time is spent on planning the wedding and often not enough time or thought is given to planning the marriage.
Planning your marriage may sound silly, but it can be very helpful
Think about how much time and effort goes into wedding planning. Now think about how much time goes into how to negotiate the bills, how often will you have sex, who will care for the children, who will care for the dogs, how often will we go out on dates, how often will we go on vacation, where will we live and for how long, do we want kids and how many, how to pay for school, how do we handle the in-laws, how much time should we spend with our respective friends, what are the no-no’s when we fight…? All of these questions, and more, should be explored and answered throughout the marriage as you and your priorities change.
Your marriage is like a nest in that it requires daily maintenance to support and protect you and your spouse from the stressors of life—work, jobs, friends, family, kids and various curve balls that will surely come.
Building and strengthening your marriage take conscious effort from both of you
Romance is just as important as paying bills. Painting the house is just as important as going on a date. Holding hands, smile, flirting and being kinds are the little simple leave and feathers that make for an overall safe, soft, comfortable and nurturing place to rest. Every choice you make is potentially a branch, a leaf or a feather that will enhance your marriage. The opposite is also true.
If you are mean, resentful, discouraging, or negligent you will be adding thorns, rocks, manure or glass. And while some animals use these materials to build their nests, I’m willing to bet you want something more pleasant and comfortable. Not that we don’t all have challenging times, we do. The idea here is that you spend more time and energy building the marriage you want to have so that when you are less than strong, supportive and loving, there’s a sturdy structure to fall back on. So, if you are diligent about marital maintenance, conflicts and stressors will be more of a breeze or gust of wind, instead of a tornado or tsunami. A good marriage can only be as strong, supportive and loving as you are will to make it. So I pose these questions again. What kind of marriage do you want? And what are you willing to do to have it?