Your Relationship Wish List
By Laura M. Brotherson, Published in Latter-day Woman Magazine, Dec 1, 2008
The holidays are a busy time where spouses can easily get sidelined in the frenzy of the holiday hustle. Those who do not currently have a special someone with whom to share their love and attention may feel some sadness, as the family-focused season draws near.
The heartache of loneliness and emotional distance can stir both the single and the married heart. At this time of year, we might follow the example of the child who is eager to create his Christmas wish lists.
Creating Your Relationship Wish List
For us adults I’d suggest we create a “Relationship Wish List,” filled not just with what we want in a future or current spouse, but that which we are willing to develop in ourselves as well. Focusing on our potential in our relationships increases the chance of those relationship wishes becoming realities.
Jot down a detailed vision of how you want your relationship or marriage to be. Whatever you focus your attention and energy on will begin to manifest itself in your life (for good or for ill). Being more conscious of your thoughts and beliefs, and focusing on what you want rather than on what you don’t want helps bring your desires to fruition.
Keep a Multi-dimensional Focus
A healthy relationship is multi-dimensional. As beings with a mind, body and spirit, the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions must be attended to. As a single or married person it is easy to get caught up in focusing on the physical dimension. While that is certainly important it must not overpower the other equally vital dimensions.
Within marriage the multi-dimensional approach is key to mutual fulfillment and happiness. How is your relationship spiritually? How connected are you emotionally? How are things physically or sexually?
As you create your Relationship Wish List consider some of the following strengths that address the multiple dimensions. Be sure to create your wish list using a positive focus in the present tense:
- I feel loved by my spouse/partner.
- I am loved and accepted unconditionally.
- We have fun together.
- We are each other’s best friends.
- We enjoy sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other.
- We make each other a priority by scheduling a date night each week.
- We make time to discuss the Gospel and our spiritual perspectives.
- We are both working to develop our relationship—emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Mental Blueprint for Marriage
Your Relationship Wish List is like a written mental blueprint of the marriage you want to have. It can serve as a vision of what you are working toward in your marriage, or what you are working toward creating with a future spouse, if you are not currently married.
Having a mental blueprint for marriage helps the single adult stay focused on the kind of relationships they want to have, and to avoid those that do not fit their ideal. A mental blueprint in marriage helps couples keep their focus and efforts on creating the relationship of their dreams.
Be the Kind of Spouse You Want to Have
Being the kind of person you are looking for, or developing the traits you want your spouse to have puts your efforts where they are most effective. It’s unreasonable to ask for something in another that you are unwilling or unable to develop in yourself.
Anytime you think about what you want in your relationship it’s important to also think about what you can give, or what you are currently giving. If you want to feel loved, you need to do that which makes your spouse or significant other feel loved. Do you know specifically what makes them feel loved, and are you willing to do those things on a regular basis?
Learning to love another in the way that makes them feel loved is often a transformational process. For example, what if you are not a touchy or affectionate person, but your spouse or future significant other needs that in order to genuinely feel your love? That becomes an area that needs some personal development. Learning to stretch in ways that may not be natural or comfortable is great practice for loving another well.
If you want to be loved unconditionally by your spouse, you need to be able to love them without conditions as well. One of the difficulties I often encounter in my work with couples is that both want the other person to change, and often feel justified that the other person should have to change first. This is an ineffective way to bring about change in any relationship.
Our most effective efforts are those that we direct towards ourselves, and how we behave in the relationship. Any change in ourselves brings about a change in the relationship dynamics. This can be a positive or a negative.
Keep Your Focus Positive
What we focus on plays a huge role in our happiness in marriage, as well as our happiness in single life. If we are consumed by what is lacking in our relationship, or if we are consumed by the lack of a significant relationship in our lives, that will be the primary way we experience our life.
Keeping a positive focus requires a foundation of faith. You must believe that you will someday find the love of your life. You must believe that your marriage can be all that you want it to be. Believing that God has good things in store helps you to have greater patience and compassion during the inevitable less-than-ideal times of life.
Becoming the kind of spouse we want to have is a great way to keep our focus on what we want instead of on what we are missing—especially during the holiday season.
Practice Your Relationship Skills
In single life we can practice relationship skills on those who are around us. There are always siblings, neighbors, nieces and nephews, or children in the local schools who need our love and attention when a significant other is not yet in sight. These relationships provide great opportunities to practice and develop relationship qualities we are looking for in others.
In married life we can focus our attention on ways we can love our spouse a little better. Especially during the busy holiday season, just making sure our spouse does not feel neglected can go a long way to achieving one’s relationship wishes.
Scheduling a date night, for instance, amidst the choir concerts, the cookie exchanges, and long shopping trips, sends a profound message that your spouse is a priority.
Remember Your Relationship with God
Marriage is not a panacea. Whether you are married or single, loneliness can easily intrude when emotional distance occurs. Erasing that emptiness comes from turning our hearts to God.
With or without marriage no one is complete until they have connected their hearts to God. The one ultimate source of peace and personal fulfillment comes from our relationship with God.
It takes conscious effort to come unto Christ in order to feel the peace that only He provides. He is the ultimate healer of all our relationship holes. Only a relationship with God can make up for what our earthly relationships may lack.
Including some thoughts on your Relationship Wish List about how you’d like to improve your personal relationship with your Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ will do much to heal any hurts you may have, and help you find the way to the relationship you desire.
This holiday season create your Relationship Wish List with care, as you consider the mental blueprint you are creating not only for your relationships, but also as a guide toward your own personal growth. You can best find or create the relationship of your dreams, as you become the spouse of your dreams.
With faith and a strong personal relationship with God you can practice and cultivate many of the multi-dimensional relationship skills of successful marriages, whether you are single or married. Beginning with a strong relationship with God will keep your heart full during the holidays and provide a reservoir of love for you to share with others.