Valentine's Day was the weekend before last so I want to share one of my current reads that can benefit couples at all stages of their lives. A while back at Barnes & Noble, I stumbled across a book called, "Choosing Marriage" by Debra Fileta. The title captured me, so I decided to purchase two copies for my husband and I to read. We always spend time together as a couple, but I wanted to start adding in more activities that focus on building a stronger marriage.
I don’t want to sound cliche, but that old saying is true – marriage is hard work. Sometimes life moves very quickly, especially when you have kids, and you can forget to check in with one another. If you two stay checked out for too long then your relationship can really start to suffer. Just like the title of the book says, you actively have to choose marriage. Every day I make that choice.
The great thing about this book is that the author doesn’t just speak at you – Debra is a professional counselor and uses real-world situations from the couples she’s interacted with to help give you an example to identify with. Now, not every anecdote in there is going to be relevant for you and your relationship, but there are enough examples in there that there’s bound to be something you and your partner will see you need to work on.
We didn’t want to rush through the book. I know a lot of active readers give themselves a deadline to finish their books (I've seen people on social media say their goal is to read one book a month), but for this book I really wanted us to take our time to absorb and discuss the information.
During some of our alone time (after the kids are in bed), we read just a few pages then stop to discuss the chapter. We make sure to put some time in between each reading session, so we can really think about what we've read and how we can incorporate it into our everyday lives.
The recurring theme of this book is, WE > ME. In order to have a healthy relationship you both need to have the mindset of, “it’s me and you against the world.” You should always make decisions with your partner in mind. Everything you do affects their life just as much as your own and vise versa. It takes two to tango – you do not want to leave your partner on the dance floor alone.
What I think a lot of couples misunderstand about WE > ME is that it also applies to internal problems in your relationship as well. If you two are having a disagreement the goal shouldn’t be to tear each other down, but instead to focus your energies on tackling the problem together. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the blame game and all that does is help you build resentment against one another.
You both bring value to the relationship and sometimes you need a reminder of that. Sit down with your spouse and write down all the things you both contribute to the marriage, sometimes it helps to see exactly what you both bring to the table. Maybe your partner has been washing dishes and you’ve been taking that for granted, or maybe you’ve been handling all the kids' doctors' appointments and your spouse didn’t realize how much work actually goes into that. I bet you’ll both be surprised by how much you depend on one another to keep your ecosystem going. Choosing marriage means taking the time to sit down and have conversations like this. You both should always be looking to acknowledge and honor each other and improve upon things that are no longer working for you.
Communication really is key! It’s natural for couples to evolve over time, but if you two want to grow together you’ll have to intentionally choose each other again, and again, and again. Marriage isn’t for the passive! Nothing ever stays the same either. The dynamic of your relationship may change during different seasons of life. When you aren’t on the same page with your partner, any challenges you face become all the more intimidating. That’s exactly why you should read this book! If you find yourselves at a crossroads but want to make things work, then reading this would be a good place to start. Commitment requires collaboration and compromise.
The book has been really great so far and I'm enjoying the discussion it sparked between the two of us. I love my husband and each chapter only gives me a renewed sense of appreciation for him and what we have. Black love is so precious. I always want us to set a good example of what real love and compassion can be.
Marriage can be so rewarding if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Your relationship is worth it!!