As a marriage repair specialist, I often find myself in sessions with couples who feel stuck in a loop of conflict and misunderstanding. These can be particularly challenging times for spouses who are navigating the complexities of parenthood.
In recent sessions with one such couple, the insights gleaned became clear: In order to foster a healthy, loving marriage, we must learn to embrace our imperfections, extend compassion, and understand the role of atonement in our lives.
Marriage is a partnership between two unique individuals, each with their own distinct attributes, perspectives, and flaws. However, when conflict arises, it’s easy for couples to become hyper-focused on each other’s weaknesses. We fixate on our partner’s missteps while overlooking our own.
The first lesson I aim to impart on my clients is acceptance of our own and our partner’s imperfections.
You and your spouse are still learning and growing, even as adults. We are all works in progress, and mistakes are an integral part of this process.
Striving for perfection is an impossible goal that only creates anxiety and discord. Instead, embrace the fact that you will sometimes make mistakes, even when you’re trying your hardest.
The second key teaching revolves around compassion. When your partner makes a mistake, rather than immediately resorting to blame or criticism, consider their intentions.
We are all doing our best, with the resources we have, to attain a common goal.
When you focus on your partner’s intentions, it becomes easier to view them in a compassionate light. Instead of asking why they did something, ask what they were hoping to accomplish.
Compassion also extends to being emotionally available for your partner when they express their own failures.
Encourage an atmosphere of emotional openness in your relationship. Let your partner know that they can confide their struggles without fear of judgment. Be there for each other, not just in moments of success, but also in times of failure.
Lastly, understanding the concept of atonement is crucial.
This is a profound doctrine, especially in Christian theology, where it represents the reconciliation between God and humans through Jesus Christ.
In the context of marriage, atonement symbolizes the understanding that your shortcomings are covered, that you are given room for growth, and that your efforts, though imperfect, are enough. The principle of atonement teaches us to show mercy, to ourselves and to our partners, in the face of inevitable human frailties.
Remember, children are resilient.
Just as you are learning, growing, and making mistakes, so are they. They won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. They are covered by the atonement just as much as you are.
The journey to a healthier and more fulfilling marriage begins with acknowledging and embracing our imperfections, showing compassion towards our partner, and understanding the role of atonement in our lives. It’s not an easy road, but it’s one that leads to a place of peace, understanding, and shared growth.