Marriage advice? Oh boy, it’s everywhere.
- Set goals
- Communicating more
- Build trust
- Work harder
- Find common hobbies
- A date a week
And so on…and on…and on…
With all this great advice around, how can we possibly fail? And yet, only around half of love-struck newlyweds make it.
Even among those that do ‘make it,’ how many can really say they have a great marriage – one that is safe, interesting, exciting, and empowering all at once.
Is it even possible? It is, but only if the partners can figure out how to create Synergy.
Synergy: When a whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Said another way: 1 + 1 = 3. Want to know how successful a marriage is? Look to see how much synergy, if any, that marriage produces for the partners. We’ve all seen marriages where one or both partners are ‘less’ because of the marriage.
This is not a situation where less is more.
So, it’s simple right? – want a great marriage? Create synergy between you and your partner. To be clear, it really is simple – it just isn’t easy.
A marriage is like a business. Both partners need to be all in to have it be successful. You’ve probably heard the adage that a great marriage is a one where both spouses give 100%. That is the way to create synergy.
So what does that look like?
Returning to the business analogy for a second, how many successful businesses have owners who are trying to the take the business in completely different directions?
The answer is a resounding none.
Begin by defining the life you want to lead
That is the first step in creating a successful and synergistic marriage. Get clear on what finished looks like. It’s no coincidence that one of The 7 habits of highly effective people is, “begin with the end in mind.”
Getting clear on what is important is the root of creating a great marriage.
Here are a few questions to help start this process:
- If money were no issue what would we be doing differently than we are now?
- What kind of home would we look forward to coming home to?
- What unfulfilled dreams remain forever locked on our bucket lists?
- If we didn’t have to _______ what would we do with that time instead?
- My life would be better if I never had to ______ again.
Taking the answers to these questions and working to implement them is the beginning of defining what a good marriage looks like.
Design systems to develop your marriage towards what you’ve deemed important
Once you’re clear on defining, it’s time to start designing. As James Clear says, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.”
What regular behaviors can be implemented or eliminated to make your ideal life more of a reality or at least a possibility?
This might include things like:
- Going to bed earlier and getting up before the kids to have time to work on things you wouldn’t otherwise.
- Setting aside time for a weekly date night. (Actually making a plan, not just aspiring to it)
- Setting aside time for individual alone time.
- Start sticking to a budget to set aside money for more important things.
There are any number of good habits to develop a great marriage.
Get aligned and don’t delay taking action
We are constantly battling taking time in the design stage with taking action and implementing the plan. Remember: the plan isn’t going to be perfect!
Systems development should not hold action hostage. Remember that the goal is a marriage where each spouse gives 100%. Start that cycle by doing your best to stick to the plan developed.
The Chinese philosopher famously said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The more single steps you can take the better. It doesn’t need to be earth shattering changes to your marriage. Progress towards an agreed upon goal is the first step in a great marriage.
Refine, iterate and improve
After taking action you’ll start to notice things that work and things that don’t. It’s time to refine
Return first to where you defined what a successful life and marriage looks like. After some of your experiences working towards that end goal, is it still the right goal to be working towards?
If not, no problem! Edison famously said about making the lightbulb, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.” Try again with a different vision!
If you feel like you’re still on the right track, awesome! It’s time to refine what is working and what isn’t. If there are habits you’re trying to develop that have fallen, this is a great time to revisit those and see if they are really the things that are going to get you to where you want to go.
Once you’ve refined this, it’s time to jump back into action and repeat the process!
Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a marriage. Working through this process of Defining, Designing, Aligning and Refining is the way to get walking on the same path with both spouses, hopefully, excited about the outcome.
If both can be excited about trajectory, all that remains to improve is velocity. That alignment in a marriage is what makes for a truly synergistic marriage. It’s how you and your spouse become a power couple!
Give this process a shot. Take some time to sit down with your spouse. We’d love to hear about your goals and connect with you on social media.