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February 17, 2015

Having a Two-Track Mind in Your Marriage

ScreamFree_Nov_2014_0048Marriage is a tricky thing. And by “tricky” I mean hard. And beautiful. Marriage is a hard, beautiful thing. It provides fertile grounds for knowing another person in great depth, and simultaneously, it reveals things about ourselves that we’d rather not know. It asks us to grow up — which can be a really difficult thing to do, especially for grown-ups.

In many ways, marriage requires us to have a two-track mind, pursuing two parallel goals. See if you recognize the following thoughts that married couples sometimes have. They reveal the two tracks:

She only thinks about herself in our marriage. I am low on her list of priorities.

I don’t know who I am anymore in my marriage. I need some time to find myself.

In the first quote, there’s a lack of focus on the marriage, and, in the second, a lack of focus on self.

In a good marriage, we take adequate time to know ourselves and to know one another; we take care of ourselves and our marriage. When we neglect one for the other, both suffer.

So what does this look like? How can we practice having a two-track mind?

The first step is understanding that you are a whole person—physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. So how are you doing at developing yourself as a whole person? Are you taking care of yourself physically by feeding yourself well, exercising, getting enough sleep? Are you aware of and processing your emotions (your anxieties, your anger, etc.)? Are you growing intellectually by reading or learning a new subject? Do you have a regular social life with good friends (girls’ night out, guys’ night out)? And last, but certainly not least, do you feed yourself spiritually?

We also need to view our marriages from a holistic perspective—physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Are you investing in your marriage just from a physical perspective but ignoring the emotional aspect? Are you growing together intellectually and socially?

I realize this can sound completely overwhelming.

Oh my word! I now have to think about having an intellectual conversation with my husband when I’m just trying to find time to have a hot shower and feed the kids? Are you kidding?

No I’m not kidding, and yep, you do! Well…sorta.

Yes, there are seasons of life when it’s MUCH harder to have intellectual conversations, when it’s more challenging to connect physically, and when a date seems out of the question. But if those things are not SOMEWHERE on the radar, then you risk losing yourself, your marriage, or both.

Maybe it can look something like this: What is one thing you can do for yourself this week that will fill you socially? It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. It might mean talking on the phone with an old friend for a few minutes. And then…how can you and your spouse connect emotionally? Maybe you share your highs and lows for the day—something that made you happy and something that really bummed you out.

When we pursue our own growth, the effects on our marriage can be great. After all, think of how attractive a person is when she is well-rested, emotionally secure, intellectually interesting, friendly and engaging, and spiritually mature. Likewise, when we are connecting within our marriages, we feel refreshed as individuals. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Questions to Ponder:

Do I tend to have a two track mind? If not, why?

What can I focus on this week—in myself and in my marriage?

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