I have shared a bit about the beginning of my relationship with Scott and how we formed a relational foundation over months of exploring our individual values. We would talk about our values with one another and discuss the intricacies of each value and how it is being upheld in our life or perhaps how it is not, and what issues that may cause for us. These personal expectations were set as we entered into a romantic relationship to inform one another of behaviors or actions that would not be acceptable as they would result in feelings of anger, resentment, or disrespect. After all, healthy boundaries in relationships are the best tool in preventing resentment and anger so long as they are enforced and followed. Below I have outline 3 boundaries we uphold to maintain respect and honor in our marriage.
Disclaimer: In the beginning of our time dating we in no way thought we were laying the foundation of our marriage, it was not some strategic masterplan. We were at a point in our lives that we were simultaneously going through an individualized 5 year plan and discussing the insights we were having with one another. That lead to this, dare I say it, serendipitous foundation for relationship. But it occurred because we were actively exploring our personal values, defining our boundaries, and listening to and respecting one another as we were working through this process. As time went on and our attraction grew stronger we had formed this beautiful bond between us which we refer to as the foundation of our relationship. In upcoming posts I will share more with you about our time dating including details of my 3 month dating contracts and the hysterical story of when Scott decided he wanted to marry me (lets just say we were in a state of survival, night-hiking through the Grand Canyon and I may have been experiencing heat related delusions)..
3 boundaries we uphold to maintain a high level of respect and honor:
We don't mock one another
We don't call each other names
We don't pick on each other in-front of other people in an effort to entertain laughs.
All three of the boundaries are based on our value of "dignity" and according to a quick google search the definition of dignity is "being worthy of honor and respect." Essentially these boundaries identify concrete behaviors that would directly infringe on our self worth and/or the worth of the other. I have seen time and time again in relationships and marriages where this is a common practice and most commonly done in a playful or joking manner, but we aim to not engage in any of these behaviors out of play, out of anger, or out of passiveness.
Note: Name calling includes typically thought of derogatory names/words such as "bitch" "cunt" "dick" "douchebag" "asshole" "dumb" etc. And also includes phrases that proclaim a persons entirety down to one view of them that you are perceiving in that moment such as "you are annoying" "you are ungrateful" "you are stupid" and even phrases such as "you are being ridiculous" etc.
Sometimes one of these boundaries gets crossed....
Sometimes, one of us ---- uuuusually me, crosses one of these boundaries. However, because we have written concrete boundaries it is easy to identify exact behavors that are damaging and harmful to our marriage. When one of these boundaries are crossed it immediately raises a red flag that there is something to be addressed....
(Its the kind of feeling you got when being caught at 8 years old watching MTV behind your parent's backs. There you are in the act of doing something that you and your parents have previously discussed and there is nnno way to backtrack out of it. You're waiting to assess the consequences and for your opportunity to dispute your wrongdoing.
Side-note; if you got caught by your parents you were considered lucky because it would be addressed immediately. However, if you got caught by a sibling, HAH! You knew you were at their mercy for almost anything they wanted for as long as the blackmail they had on you was worse than the dirt you had on them.)
Addressing boundaries that have been crossed
.....When one these boundaries are crossed there is an acute awareness that something on the surface level of our relationship is not in alignment with our foundational value of dignity. Having the awareness signals an immediate response to:
2. Reevaluate the intention
3. And make changes in behavior
This allows for the initial offense to be acknowledged and resolved almost simultaneously. Sometimes, that means addressing it and making the apology in front of others because it is something that can't wait. When we value the worth of our partner and we have behaved in a way that directly infringes on their dignity then the honorable thing to do is address it and acknowledge it in the moment.
This may seem 'extreme' or "nitpicky" and some people may down right scoff at this marital practice. However, in my years of experience in helping clients in marital crisis I have identified one of the underlying issues behind statements such as "we just grew apart" or "we just fell out of love" has to do with a dissipation of upholding dignity for one another in the relationship. Unresolved issues resulting from chronic behaviors that lead to feelings of disrespect will create distance in any relationship. This can also be where name calling or smilingly joking about each others shortcomings manifests into emotionally abusive practices.
You can have all the self help marital tips and resources in the world but until you are intentionally inspecting the foundation of that relationship with a concrete understanding of each person's individual values and boundaries you are likely going to continue to experience perpetual unresolved internal and/or relational conflict.
Disclosure: It's absolutely true, we have a fantastic marriage! But part of what makes it fantastic is that we don't get it all right all the time. Heck, there are weeks at a time that we are screwing it all up. But we continue to acknowledge, address and evolve together. Perfecting our marriage is not the goal we aim for. Instead, we aim for joint evolution and growth. Making an intentional effort to grow in our marriage each day is a practice. Some days we show up and #relationshipgoals our way through the day and other days we are off our game. But with any practice, what matters is that we show up everyday trying to do better than we did yesterday. And in really difficult times this is not a daily adjustment this becomes and hourly adjustment. We allow grace to carry us through the difficult times. Being graceful toward yourself will make it easier to be graceful toward your partner. Please understand that when I use the variation of the word 'grace' here, I am speaking from my understanding of a biblical concept. That God's grace is something none of us can earn, its just there for us unwavering and unconditionally because of his love for us. That is the type of grace Scott and I strive to bring to our marriage.
Conversations sited in this post took place in photos captured below. What a fun time we had Hiking and Exploring in the months leading up to our marriage!
Pictured form left to right (or top to bottom from a mobile device):
Grandfather Mountain Via Daniel Boone Scout Trail, Cathedral Rock Sedona AZ, Bright Angel Trail Grande Canyon