There are currently over 300,000 books on Amazon labeled under “marriage books.” Google has 132,000,000 search results for “how to stay married.” It’s pretty obvious that people want answers about a lasting and fulfilling marriage, and it’s equally obvious that the answer isn’t simple or easy.
Marriage is a complex dance that is ever-changing, and is danced differently by every couple who attempts it. However you choose to dance it, however, one of the “steps” you must use is to move from “yours and mine” to “ours.”
Every person naturally thinks in terms of “mine” in a relationship— how the other person meets my needs, helps my growth, fulfills my happiness, and there’s nothing wrong with that— my sweet Tina is a beautiful influence in my life. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I treasure that every day. But obviously, if I look at marriage at only what she does for me, I’m not only selfish and off-balance, but also prone to be wondering if someone else could do anything better for me.
That’s why in a healthy marriage there’s also a focus on “yours”— how you can love and serve your spouse. I love to help and serve Tina, it makes me feel happy to know my love and presence is the best thing that has ever happened to her life too. And even though this focus on “yours” is necessary and good in a marriage, it is still incomplete. A marriage that is only focused on “yours” can degenerate into codependency and other destructive patterns that eventually poison the relationship.
So if “mine” and “yours” isn’t enough in a relationship, what is? It’s the secret hiding in plain sight, the very essence of what relationship means– “ours.” It’s creating mindsets, memories, feelings, experiences, goals, and dreams that aren’t either “yours” or “mine” but are truly “ours”– that take both people to make a reality. It’s relishing the sounds of our children laughing as they have friends over, it’s remembering our honeymoon, it’s decorating our house, it’s planning for our trips, it’s a thousand small and big things that combine to create the dance of us as a couple. It’s realizing that you can’t dance by yourself, and that the amazing feeling of dancing comes only by creating it with another person. That’s what marriage is truly all about, and that’s what truly makes it wonderful.