I read an article by Andrew Cohen today in which he talked about bringing an inspired future into reality. He said to make the leap from an inspired vision to actual emergence of reality requires us to do three things:
- Focus on what’s possible
- Create a new structure that supports it
- Define higher shared values
This caused me to reflect on what it takes to create a new future for your marriage. As a business leader you understand the concept of creating a compelling vision and strategic intention for your business. Have you ever applied the same type of thinking to your marriage?
- What is possible for your marriage? What kind of life do you want to create together? Do you know your purpose or mission for your marriage and family?
- What kind of structure will you need to support your inspired vision? Will you need to clarify the roles and expectations of your partnership? Who is accountable for what? How will you measure success?
- What are the higher shared values you need to cultivate in order to live the vision? Will you need to change your priorities? How do you know what’s really most important to both of you?
A couple I am coaching is working through a tough time because the husband had an affair. This of course has been very hurtful but both agree there were many factors involved and mistakes made. In these types of situations I usually follow the lead of the betrayed party to determine what he or she needs to work through the pain and anger.
What is inspiring about this couple has been their ability and willingness to take responsibility for their marriage and mistakes and focus on creating new possibilities for the future. Rather than fighting about the past they are talking about changing the reality of the present and the future. It is too soon to know if they will make it through and create a new reality but they are on their way.
Andrew Cohen states that as we awaken to our evolutionary impulse, the magnetic pull of the future causes us to slowly but surely drop our attachments to our personal history. It is this attachment to history that often causes problems in marriage. I encourage you to take time to sit with your spouse and explore ideas about future possibilities and higher values. From there create a structure that will support the growth required to get there.
Humility is a quality of character that is sometimes misunderstood and derided. People often equate humility with meekness, weakness, and passive, deferential behavior. To the contrary, humility is a quality of strength and higher level maturity. True humility is not for sissy’s.
In his classic book, “Good to Great”, Jim Collins recognizes the correlation between humility and maturity. He notes that humility is one of the hallmarks of what he calls level 5 leadership. To Christians around the world, Jesus is the model of humility, as demonstrated by the washing of his disciples feet. Jesus described himself as gentle and humble of heart. Weak and passive? Hardly. Jesus had absolute clarity of his mission, shook up the establishment of his day, and had the courage to follow his convictions even to his death. He taught his followers that whoever would be great must first be a servant. In his book, “Virtuous Leadership”, Alexandre Havard describes humility as the habit of living in the truth. “The humble man sees himself as he really is. He acknowledges his weaknesses and shortcomings, but also his strengths and abilities.”
Marriage is a relationship in which our ability to live in humility is often tested. Marriage will reveal our level of maturity more than any other relationship. The intensity of the relationship, with intimacy and familiarity unlike any other relationship often brings out the best and the worst in us. It is also the perfect place to practice habits of humility. Humility can be developed in marriage by making a commitment to the well being of the relationship above our own success, admitting when we are wrong, showing grace when our partner needs it, and practicing gentleness, respect, and patience.
A coaching conversation reminded me how difficult it can be at times to live with integrity. Integrity requires not only honesty but also transparency and being integrated, which means you act in harmony with your deepest values and intentions. Sometimes this requires choices that mean self-denial, risk of embarrassment, or conflict. These choices tap into our fears of rejection, inadequacy, or exposure.
Consistently living in a state of integrity requires emotional and spiritual maturity. Those of us who had good role models in our lives will find this easier than those who did not. But either way it is well worth striving for and it is something we can always get better at. Integrity is fundamental for self-respect, credibility, trust-worthiness, and healthy relationships. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about your own struggle or ideas about integrity so please leave a comment.