Relationship Jazz - Spring Break
Written By: Mark Smith
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Welcome back. Grab your coffee and get ready for your free 5-minute therapy session. In last week's initial column I committed to begin tackling what I consider to be the nuts and bolts of that relationship jazz stuff - understanding #1 What the purpose of your relationship is, #2 Who you are, #3 Where you came from, #4 Who your spouse really is, #5 What your responsibilities are or #6 How to begin to fix things. While I will definitely touch on those foundational issues, I can't do so in a very methodical manner because, as fate would have it Spring Break got in the way. Life is messy and so much of it can't really be planned for. It is where we live when our plans don't come together.
I need to stress that this is not a marital advice column. It you are looking to snatch a quick tip or a clever tool that will work wonders in juicing up your relationship right away then you will be disappointed. Relationships are immensely complicated and they are painful hard work. The truth is that the first ingredient that is so often AWOL in our relationships is OUR SELVES. The day-to-day grind tends to divert our attention away from our most important relationships. After a tough day at work it is quite easy to medicate ourselves with a TV show, a beer, a ballgame or a piece of pizza - or all the above. The problem is that these self-medicated days become weeks and weeks become months and months become years of disconnecting from both our selves and our lonely spouses.
That is why I love our yearly Spring Break trip to the beach. It has a rhythm that is so much slower and more spiritual than life's normal pace. The beach almost feels like a holy place to me. With the extra time I have time to reflect on where I'm at, what I'm feeling, what is working in my life and what isn't. Emotional pain isn't something to just try to make go away, as we all instinctually do. Your pain or your depression or your anger is trying to tell you something about yourself. Pay attention! As I walk with my feet in the ocean it is as if the waves themselves are whispering to me. It really isn't the magically therapeutic waves whispering to me though - it is my previously overly medicated and covered over heart that is finally allowed to pipe up.
If you want a healthy relationship with your significant other you need to first have a really connected relationship with yourself. Once you get connected to you, then and only then are you ready to do some business with your spouse. Invisible walls can slowly and imperceptively wedge themselves between spouses in even the best of marriages. With some extra time and some added awareness those walls become visible and they can then be taken down brick by brick. Marriages need breaks from the ruts they can so easily get stuck in. Last week I wrote that one of the definitions of the word "jazz" is "beautiful, sensual syncopated rhythms and spontaneous musical improvisations" - that even sounds sexy, doesn't it? Relationally that would be the magical moments of communication and raw intimacy that inspire life-bonding connections between couples. Those moments are why you got married to begin with.
Here is the punch line - you really don't have to drive all the way to the beach to tap into the power of taking a break from everyday life to focus on #1 getting connected to yourself and #2 getting reacquainted with your sweetie. Turn the TV off, really figure out what is going on with you (even if that hurts) and then start talking to each other (even if that means having some conflict). You will find that it is well worth the work. Our time is up - see you next week.
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