All of us want that special, authentic marital relationship with our spouse that we’ve heard about. Maybe we don’t exactly know what that means, but we know we want it.
We intuitively know we should have it, and that’s good enough.
So, I’m going to give you the whole scoop. What it means, what it doesn’t mean, and what you must do to attain it.
Let’s start with what it means. The term itself just sounds good, like the description of rich, smooth vanilla ice cream. But its deeper meaning sounds even better.
Marriage is innately already an extraordinary relationship. (We all know that.) It is designed unlike any other relationship. Personally, I think of marriage as the world heavyweight of all relationships. Nothing compares to it.
A proper, successful marriage brings more benefits and wonderful feelings than any other relationship can offer, by far. But, like other relationships, marriage doesn’t produce an automatic bountiful harvest. You still have to do your part. And authenticity in marriage doesn’t come without the correct efforts either.
I will say it again: Being married does not automatically guarantee an authentic marital relationship anymore than getting into your car means guarantees a smooth ride. You have to know what you strive for, and how to bring it about.
Misunderstanding marriage gets many couples into trouble. They think, “OK, now that we’ve married everything will go smoothly. We will have a perfect marriage because we are honest.”
They do not really understand human nature, habits, etc. And they certainly do not understand the nature of marriage; it only provides the opportunity for the rumored benefits. So, those couples have a life of unfulfilled expectations, never realizing they have to do their part.
Authenticity is not what it sounds like. To most, authenticity in marriage sounds the same as, say, authenticity in advertising or the honesty of a co-worker. But if that were the case, the vast majority of marriages would fail before the honeymoon ended.
Everyone soon discovers they cannot live up to the highest standards of “honest” communication. In the world, our interactions with others is quite limited. Honesty is judged by very narrow contexts. For instance, a mechanic might only be honest because he fears getting caught if he lied, or maybe he’d been caught cheating before and cannot risk it.
The honesty we expect from a business transaction protects us from being taken advantage of. We hold the sales-/businessperson accountable, but it’s narrow, unlike the constantly complex and varied marital interactions we experience.
You cannot have such high expectations in your marriage. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is consistent; everyone slips.
Human beings grow and change, make mistakes and learn, and so forth. If your expectations of your spouse are too high, or theirs of you, your marriage will fail. If you expect your spouse to never lie, your marriage will fail. (Or you would at least live a life of constant sorrow and disappointment.) So forget the business or social definition of authenticity when thinking about marriage. It’s a setup for failure.
The Breakdown Of Marital Authenticity
Marital authenticity is more elastic and expansive. It is the sum of all the parts of:
The basis of marriage is said to be friendship, which is true. But that description comes from consciously and proactively implementing the two parts above. These two are internal action items, and they must be the primary actions of the authentic spouse. They represent your free will in marriage-building action.
- I commit myself to you in body, mind, and spirit.
- I will set aside my psychologically driven desires and put you first.
Individuals who abide by these two principles — the bedrock-marriage principles — will achieve an authentic marital relationship.Then, this will encourage your partner to do the same. Soon the back-and-forth encouragement becomes a positive cycle within the construct of your marriage.
Couples who live authentically in the spirit of commitment and selflessness will know true marital happiness.