There is no "i" in Love, but there is in Divorce. When working with individuals and couples in marital strife, one often hears "I need..." or "I want..." Following that is usually "He/she just doesn't get it/me."
If one remembers back to when they first fell in love, the pronouns used looked very different, and the focus of them was also different.
Love is a verb that requires one to give, and has little to do with getting. Regardless of whether the feelings are returned, love stands on its own two feet. We love babies before the child can love us. We love our pets, our work, our hobbies and more, without them loving us back, and that's ok. How often we forget this when we draw lines in the sand with our partners. The expectation becomes one of getting what we want or need, and if the other doesn't give it, they don't love us, or don't love us enough.
Marriage creates a third entity between two people that requires regular nurturing. It, above the two individuals (except in the case of abuse), should become the priority. By strengthening and protecting it, the individuals have the foundation from which they can grow, experience, learn and develop as a couple and individually. It provides the strength to be vulnerable as individuals, which deepens the bond of intimacy between the two.
Talking differently to our partner about our needs, wants and desires can mean the difference between drawing those lines in the sand and inviting them to help find creative solutions. The focus is on nurturing the relationship in a healthy way rather than getting what we want. Using words such as "How can we..." and "Share with me.." can go a long way to finding creative solutions that work for both.
Consider what you can GIVE, as opposed to what you may/may not be GETTING.
Working with a professionally trained minister, mediator or counselor to learn new ways to communicate can be a wonderful strength to add to your relationships, personally and professionally. Doing so before you're in dire circumstances will prevent deep wounds that may take a long time to repair.
Rev. Ronnie was ordained in 2010 as an interfaith minister through The New Seminary, located in New York City. She is available to perform ceremonies throughout the United States, aboard ship or in other countries.