Relationships are tricky – that is an understatement. When two people join together and enter into a relationship they never come empty-handed. They always come with all of who they are – from their childhood hurts and joys all the way to the embarrassing moment at work the day before.
These stories change and shape us. They inform us, direct us, and advise us in the everyday goings of life. This means underneath every reaction, comment, or argument is years and years of experience. The conversation in the present is filled with hundreds of voices and experiences that are sometimes hard to parse out. This is where relationships can often get really tricky and where communication comes in.
In our marriage, we have done a lot of work both ourselves individually and together. I am more convinced than ever that the strongest of relationships will sink on the unsteady sands of bad communication. There is just no way around it – without real, honest, and good communication in a relationship things will, given time, undoubtedly fall apart.
The other day, after our own small argument, I sat down and wrote out some foundational beliefs that I think are tantamount to a growing relationship and communication. These beliefs or action statements I put into a type of ‘relationship charter’ – a document that states externally what we want to and do believe about each other. I wrote it out and sat down with my wife so we could both affirm them and commit to believing and acting on them for the benefit of us, our marriage, and our family.
So, I share them below in an effort to start some conversation in your relationships. To possibly unmask some of the stories that shape us and experiences that speak into our everyday lives and start to write new stories in your relationships. Take the time to open up lines of communication using these foundational beliefs and action steps every day and see what new insight and growth come along after.
For the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family I choose to take active steps and take a humble posture to learn and grow as a spouse, parent, and person. In order to do so, I commit myself to the agreed statements below, in partnership with the whole family – to not be adhered to as law but in a spirit of freedom in grace.
Today, I will…
…believe the best of the other and give the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
…do the work of self-reflection (prayer, quiet time, reading, etc..) to understand myself and my needs, wants, and emotions for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
…make known frustrations or things that are bothering me with invitational language so as to not condemn the other but to work together for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
…choose to not attack the other with my words but always choose to speak well of the other for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family
…ask for space/time when I need time to process something but will also take responsibility and ownership in addressing the postponed conversation with the other for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
…always work to see and own my part in any situation and model sorrow and desire to change by apologizing for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family
…commit to finding and pointing out the good and beautiful things in the other so as to encourage, strengthen, and lift up for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
… work toward resolution in all things and value connection over correction for the benefit of me, my marriage, and my family.
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