Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Supporting Your Spouse

In one week and one day, Frank will celebrate a benchmark birthday.we will soon after celebrate twenty-four years together. Fifty-one days after that we will celebrate twenty-four years together.

That gives me one year to save up for a trip somewhere for our twenty-fifth!

It is natural in a marriage for shifts to take place, and these can be navigated smoothly with open communication. In our case, I have always been the provider and Frank has always been supportive of my career and tended to the homestead, as well as to me.

Throughout the course of a successful marriage or long-term commitment, the two people in the relationship may shift in and out of various roles. For example, I've gone from a successful career to becoming a starving author while attending classes for a real estate license, life insurance license, and theological studies. I never thought that, as I approach the half century mark in my life, I would become a full time student! However, life changes, and we must be supportive of one another if we are to survive as couples or families. And sometimes roles change.

For example, one person in the couple may support the other person going back to school. 
In order to do this, he or she steps into a supporting role, setting aside certain goals or aspirations in order to provide a stable base from which his or her partner can launch forth in a new direction. There are many gifts of learning inherent in this role - from having the opportunity to embody a nurturing stance to feeling the pleasure of seeing a loved one thrive. When our partner expands his or her horizons, ours expand, too, and we gain access to a world that would otherwise remain closed to us.

However, there is also much to be said for having a turn to be the one stepping outside of our space, perhaps taking time to attend to our personal healing, spiritual pursuits, or other interests. In order to maintain balance within our relationships, it’s important that we address these issues each time one person steps into a supporting role so the other can try something new. When we are conscious about acknowledging that one person is bearing a bit more of a burden so that the other can grow, we stand a better chance of making sure the ebb and flow in the relationship remains fair and equal. 

The most important part of this process is open communication in which each person has a chance to express how he or she feels and come to an understanding about the roles they have agreed to and when they expect them to shift. 

Each time a dynamic shift occurs, a ceremony of acknowledgment can lend an air of distinction to the moment. This can be a simple dinner date at home or an elaborate ritual, depending upon what works best for us at the time. Perhaps the most important thing is expressing gratitude to the person in the supporting role and encouragement to the person moving in a new direction. 

When the flow of feeling and communication is mutual and open, a healthy closeness develops that allows each person in the relationship to have a turn at each of these important roles. It is then that we build our relationship in maturity through absolute love and commitment. 

With love and light,