As I write this, we are in the process of getting ready to move to a new state.
It’s a lot to prepare for, and to be honest….I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. That is until I sat down and sketched out a plan. Putting all the “to-do’s” in sequence helped me relax. Seeing that certain things would happen, that would allow for other things to happen later helped me find focus.
This same holds true in marriage.
A lot of us believe that once the honeymoon is over, our marriage is complete. But marriage is a forever journey. It’s a complex relationship that grows and changes. Because it’s two people who hopefully grow, but for sure will change.
My wife and I didn’t want to just date forever, we wanted more for and from our relationship.
So, we got engaged. But, we still wanted more for and from our relationship….so we got married.
And today, we still want more for and from our marriage. But what is it? How do we get it?
Isn’t the sequence of marriage; Date -> Engagement -> Marriage? I mean, most people think that’s all there is to it. I know I did.
Author Jackie Bledsoe Jr and his wife Stephana have captured the stages all marriages could and should experience. I believe stagnating in any of these stages (“rings”) is the open door to failure in marriage.
Stop at one ring, and your marriage is dead.
As you read through each ring of marriage, you’ll see marriages around you and your marriage in new light. You and your spouse will have a shared and common language to use in evaluating your marriage, in fact there is a tool at the end of the book to help you with this.
Helping couples get on the same page of where their marriage is is one of the most powerful outcomes of reading this book. Once you know where you are you can decide where you want to go. Then, you can develop a plan. And in your plan, find peace and focus in your marriage journey.
Goals and desires are found in all areas of our lives, including marriage. Knowing the difference between a goal and desire, and creating action steps for your goals, will eliminate the anger from your life. Plus, you will also increase the influence you have to see your desires come true.
How Can This Help My Marriage?
Well, like we say all the time, this will not help your relationship with your spouse at all if all you do is read it. But if you read it and take some action steps to apply it, THEN you can see growth in your marriage in the following ways:
Eliminate the anger in your marriage.
Learn the difference between a goal and desire.
Understand that you need goals for your relationships.
Understand that you can leverage the influence you have with others to increase the likelihood of your desires coming true.
The Big Point
In your marriage you have “wants” and that’s totally fine, we aren’t going to tell you to stop wanting things. There are 2 different types of “wants” in the world.
Goals: predetermined outcomes you want that only rely on you (and God) to complete and make choices in.
Desires: these outcomes rely on the choices and actions of you and/or other people.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want to have dinner every night as a family. This is a desire. Everyone in the family needs to make a choice to be at dinner every night. If you set this as a goal for your family; you are going to get angry sooner or later. Your spouse is going to miss because of work one night. Or, older kids will need to miss a night for any number of reasons.
Instead, label that want for what it is. A desire. You desire for everyone in your family to eat dinner together every night. Now, you have to answer the question; what can you…AND ONLY YOU….do to try and get this to happen?
You can make sure that everyone knows what time dinner is.
You can make sure that dinner is always ready on time and at the same time every night.
You can have a weekly / monthly meeting with the family to look at everyones calendar to see if an evening is coming up that someone can’t make it. Maybe you can adjust the time or location of dinner. Or, maybe for that one night…not everyone is there.
You saw in the video one example of when we use to deal with anger in our marriage. Eric had a goal, something that only relied on his input. I, Marissa, had a desire. Something that relied on Eric to make a decision that aligned with my desired outcome. Eric didn’t get angry, I did.
This is what I would do in this situation now.
Realize that I have a desire for the family to have some time together outside because of a break in the weather.
As soon as Eric says; “I think I’m going to put the bike trailer together this afternoon.” I would say; “great. I’d like for us to cook dinner on the campfire and hangout in the backyard since the weather is nice. What time do you think you’ll be finished with the bike trailer by?”
Bam; Eric get’s to accomplish his goal to assemble the bike trailer. I get my desire to have a family fun evening. OR, Eric could say…”geez my beautiful, smart, funny wife. I was thinking I might clean the garage since it’s nice…and I might wash the cars.” At least then, I’d be able to have a clear expectation for the evening; or I could continue having a conversation encouraging Eric to clean the car and garage the next nice day of spring.
Anger comes when you have a blocked goal, you aren’t getting something you WANT.
When You Start To Feel Yourself Getting Angry
When you get upset the first thing you need to ask yourself is “What do I want that is being blocked?” Then you need to test and see whether that “want” is a desire or a goal.
If you decide that what’s being blocked is a goal (something that relies only on your decisions and actions), you then need to look at the action steps you are taking (or not taking) and make adjustments.
If your “want” that’s being blocked in a desire (something that relies the input of others) you need to change your mindset. You have mistaken a desire for a goal. This happens A LOT in marriages so don’t be surprised when you see it in yours. What you need to do the is:
Communicate your desires to your spouse.
Make small goals to increase the likelihood of the desire coming true.
Complete those goals.
Understand that you may still be disappointed if the desire goes unfulfilled, but you will tend to not get angry about it.
If I, Marissa, would have understood this concept that nice spring day, I wouldn’t have gotten angry with Eric. I never told him my desires, I didn’t take any actions steps to increase the chances of having an outdoor family evening. I was both angry and disappointed that night.
When thinking about goals and desires and the differences between them, God is a “go-to” example of this. God, in His almighty power, created man and in the beginning He gave Adam and Eve a choice. They could follow His plan and stay in His presence, or follow their own way. Well, we know what they chose.
God has a desire for us to follow him. It’s not His goal however. Adam and Eve (and even us today) have a decision to make in regards to following or not following God.
God COULD have taken free will out of the picture. And if that was the case, God would have had a goal for Adam and Eve to follow Him. There would have been no opportunity for Adam and Eve (or us today) to have an impact on the relationship.. But God understood that even though it’s risky to have desires, it mean’s more when we choose to participate.
When God sent Jesus, He was going one step further. He was taking an action step in His desire for a relationship with us. He knew that He wasn’t going to MAKE us love and follow Him, but He could take steps in increase the influence He has on the desire.
You see, here’s the point: Goals will decrease the anger in your life, and that’s GREAT and we 100% encourage you to make goals. But we are made in God’s image, and if God in His perfection has desires then you better bet your bottom dollar that we will too! The key is to understand that even thought it might not come true (not everyone will accept God and follow Him) we can take steps to show our love and our longing to influence the choice of another (just like God sending Jesus).
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