Throughout this blog series, we have been reviewing the principles that make marriage work as theorized by John Gottman. If you have accomplished the first six principles, more than likely you have a happy and stable marriage. As a reminder, those first six principles are: Building Love Maps, Nurturing Your Fondness and Admiration, Turning Toward Your Partner, Let Your Partner Influence You, Solving Your Solvable Problems, Overcoming Gridlock. The final principle in the series is Creating Shared Meaning. This involves both partners meshing together their own life philosophies and honoring each other’s dreams. Gottman states, “The more you can agree about the fundamentals of life, the richer, more profound, and in a sense, easier your marriage is likely to be.” In order to encourage honesty within your relationship, there must be a welcoming atmosphere. Do you think you are open to your partner’s perspective?
There are four pillars to creating shared meaning:
Do you eat dinner regularly with your partner? Do you have holiday traditions? At the end of the day, do you and your partner have a ritual to kiss and greet each other? “A ritual is a structured event or routine that you each enjoy and depend on and that reflects and reinforces your sense of togetherness.” Rituals create opportunities to connect with your partner and provide value to your relationship.
How many roles do you have in your relationship? Are you a Father? Mother? Sister? Daughter? Brother? Son? Worker? Each partner wears several hats within and outside the marriage. Supporting your partner’s various roles can add harmony and meaning to your marriage. When you and your partner are on the same page, tension within the relationship eases.
Is your goal to find inner peace after a hard childhood? Do you have the goal to raise kind children? Thinking about deeper goals we have for our lives is important to explore in order to increase the intimacy in your marriage. By sharing your deepest desires for your life with your partner, you can create a love rich in meaning.
Values and beliefs guide how we wish to conduct our lives. Perhaps religious values and symbols of your faith are important. Maybe you and your partner have created your own belief system that informs the choices you make together. No matter the origin, creating symbols within your marriage can enhance meaning for you and your partner.
Exploring deeper meaning within your relationship is a lifelong process. As you and your partner grow and change, so will your values and goals. The key is to be open to your partner’s beliefs so that the two of you can create a joyful life together.
As we wrap up this series, I hope you have taken away some new knowledge and tools that can apply to your relationship. Every day you can build the change you want to see in your marriage. Just remember, “No book or therapist can solve all of your marital problems. But learning the Seven Principles really can change the course of your relationship.”
Alison Bellows Cearlock was a Graduate Student Intern with the Mindly Group studying Mental Health Counseling.