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7 Spiritual Lessons Learned From 25 Years Of Marriage – Part 5

Written by: Christina Marlett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Christina Marlett

Are you feeling like you could use a little more connection or excitement in your marriage? Do you get stuck in the same-old-same-old trap? Do you worry that you’ve become boring? Read this article to learn how to create fun, adventure and novelty in your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been together.


couple sitting on the field facing the city during sunset

Why hello there! Here we are at the fifth installment of the seven most powerful spiritual lessons I’ve learned over 25 years of marriage. Last week, in Part 4, we explored the interplay between the divine masculine and divine feminine energies in The Many Faces of Love. This week, we’re looking at how to action that love so that you feel fully alive.


The Fifth Spiritual Lesson


Strive to feel fully alive

I once heard a spiritual teacher, Rev. Dr. Carol Carnes, say that when we focus on discovering or living our purpose, it can make us feel stressed out if we don’t know what that is precisely and then we end up running around like headless chickens which doesn’t lend itself to a happy union. (She only said the first part about purpose and stress; she didn’t talk about married headless chickens. That was all me and you’re welcome for that confusing image.) Rather than constantly hunting for purpose, Dr. Carnes shared, it’s much easier to do what makes you feel fully alive. I love that distinction because there’s way less on the line. You simply follow how you feel. If you feel alive and energized, do more of that. If you feel drained or depleted, do less of that. So simple, right? In our marriage, Paul and I have put our focus on doing as many things as possible together that lead to feeling fully alive. As a result, we have lots of fun which makes us continue to want to spend time together. Even after 25 years (28 if you count dating and engagement), it’s a treat to get to be in each other’s company. In the rest of this post, you’ll find some specifics on ways you, too, can strive to feel fully alive, both on your own and in partnership.


Actioning love

I like to think of our marriage as love in action. We are continuously demonstrating our love to each other, not just with words, but with actions. Throughout the day, we often look for ways to show that we care. Yes, it might just look like doing the laundry or vacuuming, but when we’re really on point, it’s also love in action. (I’m not saying I’m always thrilled to be doing household work, but I sure feel better cooking or mopping when I can find love in it and see it as a gift to my beloved.)


Set intentions

Another way to feel fully alive and act love is to be purposeful by setting intentions. I set intentions for pretty much everything I do. For example, every time I get in the car I say to myself, “I am intending a safe and pleasant drive.” Before drifting off to sleep at night, I say, “I am waking up feeling refreshed, rested and energized.” Setting intentions is a way of being mindful and choosing how I would like things to go. Rather than just letting life happen to you and being at the mercy of whatever comes along, setting intentions helps to focus the energy by getting clear on the feelings you would like to experience more often. Most weeks, we do a family check-in and part of that process is setting intentions for how we want to show up during the week. I also do a Sacred Success Sunday Review that helps me gather my thoughts, evaluate how I showed up during the week and get clear on how I want to move forward. It’s been one of the most powerful practices I’ve incorporated into my life and it’s definitely had a positive impact on my relationship with Paul. In our marriage, we have intentions of harmony, being kind to each other, supporting each other, cultivating inner and outer peace and making life better for one another. When you set intentions for both the big and small parts of life, you claim your personal power and get clarity on where you want to go as a person and how you want to feel along the way.


Have a vision

Another way to action love that’s just a little bit different than setting intentions is to have a vision. What’s the big picture that you want to experience in your relationship? Most companies have a vision and so why not have one in your marriage? My vision is to have an epic marriage. I feel fully alive when we do epic things, when we feel big, satisfying feelings, when our eyes sparkle, when we surprise and delight each other and when we have tender, vulnerable, connecting moments. All of those aspects combine to make our marriage feel like a big deal as we go on our heroic journeys through life. It feels grounding and clarifying to have a vision, plus if things ever feel disconnected, boring, dull or lackluster, I know it’s time to come back to what epic means to me and then make changes to move more toward my vision.


Be interesting and interested

I once had a coach, Alex J. Moscow, who shared that his intention was to be both interesting and interested. He wanted to have a life that he was excited about and he also had the desire to be interested in himself, both in relationships and in his own company. I love that idea and have adopted it as part of my outlook on life. I always want to have great stories to tell because of the interesting things I do, the fascinating books I read, the pastimes I have, the things I learn, the places I go and the people I meet. Paul feels the same way. We feel fully alive when we have interesting things to talk about and share. To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we went to a Nordic Spa in the Rocky Mountains (interesting, right?) and during lunch, I heard a fascinating conversation at a table near ours. Yes, I was eavesdropping and I’m so glad I did because our table neighbors were having a meaningful discussion that I think will be thought-provoking for you, too. One of the women asked the couple seated across from her what they talked about on a day-to-day basis. Then she apologized if it was too personal a question. The couple replied that it was totally fine because it was a good question to ask themselves. It sounded like they hadn’t really considered it before. After some thought, they said that they talked about their days and the news. It sounded like they had been married for a few years at least and they said that they had covered all the “big topics” so now they mostly talked about day-to-day stuff. The woman who asked the question (let’s call her Heidi – for no other reason than that we were at a Nordic Spa) said, “Yeah, I tried to talk to (her ex – let’s call him Sven) but he only wanted to watch sports and I wasn’t interested. We just didn’t have anything to talk about. Then I tried watching the news and talking to him about that but he didn’t care. We just ran out of things to say to each other.” I thought this exchange was intriguing because it gave me the opportunity to reflect. Paul and I discussed it later (after we were out of earshot of Heidi and her friends, of course). We don’t watch or listen to the news, we don’t care much about professional sports, we’ve had all the “big topic” conversations, so what on earth do we talk about? Well, we have kids, so there’s always plenty of fodder there. We also share about our days, to be sure. In addition to that, though, we never get bored with each other because we both read extensively and take courses, we love learning, we seek out teachers and mentors, we set intentions, we plan adventures, we share how we’ve grown during said adventures, we talk about what’s important to us and about spirituality, to name a few things. We’ve also learned to ask great questions. Admittedly, Paul is much better at asking great questions than I am so he takes the lead on this one. He asks a question and gets me going. If I’m especially tuned in, when I’m finished with my answer, I’ll ask him the same thing. Here are some example questions that stimulate fulfilling conversations:

  • What’s it like to be you right now?

  • When was a time you felt most loved?

  • How can I be an even better spouse?

  • What can I do to support you this week?

Being interesting and interested takes devotion. It’s much easier to numb out or do the same old, same old. However, those options don’t lead to a stimulating or fulfilling life. Paul and I want to feel fully alive and so we take all sorts of actions to seek out novelty, adventure and compelling ways to spend our time, both apart and together.


Prioritize creativity over consumption

A long time ago (just after September 11, 2001, in fact) we decided to cut the news out of our lives. We had heard that it’s just designed to keep people worried and stressed and we didn’t want to feel that way anymore. As teachers, we had enough worry and stress in our immediate surroundings. We didn’t need to add in problems from around the world that we had no control over. We’ve never looked back and continue to be so happy with our decision. When we listen to something, it’s either music we love, something that makes us laugh or transformational information from our teachers and mentors. When we watch something, it’s either uplifting or educational. When we read, we stay away from gossip and mainstream media. Instead, we choose to focus on innovative solutions and high-vibration content. We want to spend our time feeling as happy and peaceful as possible. A few years after cutting out the news, we also stopped watching crime shows filled with violence and death. We noticed that, again, we felt much better. Eventually, we got rid of our TV altogether. During the first years of our marriage, we were university students getting our second degrees and then we became full-time teachers. Alas, we hadn’t heard of self-care yet, so our only stress-releasing strategy, apart from exercise and eating well, was TV. There were many days where we found ourselves watching between four and six hours of shows. Yikes! That cursed Channel 2 kept telling us what was coming up next and so we sat there over dinner and right up to bedtime. We weren’t proud of our habit and, at a certain point, we decided that not having a TV to tempt us was the way to go. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. These days we watch a little Netflix from time to time on our computers (and stick to our no-binging policy) but it’s not the focal point of our lives and I’m so proud of us for that choice. Paul’s never been one for social media, but I amassed all sorts of accounts for business purposes. I was mindful of how much time I spent on them but during the pandemic, I had the inner guidance to get rid of most of my social media. Once I deleted the majority of my accounts, I felt such release and freedom. The only thing I have now is Instagram and I keep it primarily to see what my kids are posting. I don’t do the scrolling thing because it trains your brain to compare and judge with every single post. I certainly don’t need my brain to do those things any more than it already does. I’m so grateful that Paul and I are on the same page about what we choose to consume. We both prioritize growth, learning and creativity over mindless, addictive, low-vibration consumption. As you can see, it’s been a journey and we didn’t do it all at once. Along the way, we’ve had many conversations about these choices and what we decided (intentionally) is that we would rather know each other deeply and as fully as possible than devour superficial information about acquaintances and strangers. We are interested in learning more about ourselves and each other and I believe that’s one of the reasons our marriage is so strong.


Plan for connection

The last way to feel fully alive that I want to share with you is to plan for connection. There have been many times when both of our lives have been very dynamic and full and we’ve felt like two ships passing in the night. Paul and I are both very passionate about our work and our individual interests, so we’ve found that it’s important to make connecting as a couple just as important. Throughout our marriage, we’ve always loved having date nights. There’s a special energy that happens when you make plans to spend time together and call it a date. Our date night conversations are always extra engaging. We often get dressed up for each other to make it feel special. Sometimes it’s dinner and a movie, other times it’s trying something new. Regardless of the activity, our date nights have been a cornerstone of our happy marriage. Here are a few of the particularly memorable dates we’ve had, along with some things we love to do:

  • On our very first date, we made a welcome home banner for my family, went rollerblading, shared an extra large pizza, listened to music and went to see fireworks (it was an epic start)

  • Once we rented a rowboat on a local lagoon and Paul read me poetry (swoon)

  • Going dancing (as in ballroom and Latin dancing- so fun!)

  • Going to the ballet, a concert or the theatre

  • Riding our bikes (more of a daytime thing than a date night activity)

  • Cross-country skiing

  • Reading together in nature or a cozy cafe

  • Having picnics

  • Trying new restaurants

We also do periodic couples’ getaways. It’s very easy for life to become ultra kid-focused and so we’ve always been conscious about connecting as a couple. Some day in the not-too-distant future, our kids will move out and so we want to have a solid foundation in our relationship. Occasional trips and stay-cations allow us to spend time together for a few days so we can temporarily let go of our roles as parents and just be husband and wife.


Traveling together is another way to create a deep connection because so much happens when you’re not in familiar surroundings. Before having kids, Paul and I drove across Canada and then backpacked through Europe for three months. A few years later, we cycled through France for 5 weeks and then did another cycling trip in Canada’s Gulf Islands. We went on an Alaskan cruise with my family and then on a Caribbean cruise that I earned when I was an avid Norwex consultant. Being in a completely new setting has its way of ensuring self-discovery and creating an unparalleled bond. We have also continued to seek out adventures as a family. We’ve been to Hawaii several times and to a variety of other states. This year we went to Mexico and on several camping adventures. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and each other from time spent away from home, especially in different cultures. Stretching our comfort zones together helps us grow in ways we just couldn’t do at home. Even one day of travel gives us so much to talk about and it takes our energy to a whole new level. Probably my favourite way that we continue to connect is through our Journal of Romance. Many years ago, Paul made me a journal with a leather pouch for our anniversary. He called it the Journal of Romance and it’s one of my most prized possessions. We use the journal for writing love notes to each other, acknowledging each other, writing our birthday, Mother’sDay, Father’s Day and anniversary messages to each other (we’ve likely saved hundreds of dollars on greeting cards) and sometimes even planning dates. One of my most cherished dates we ever went on was because of the Journal of Romance. Paul wrote out some options with checkboxes such as “Do you want to stay in town or go to a nearby town for our date?” I checked the out-of-town box. Then he gave some more options with additional boxes to check. We ended up going on a scenic half-hour drive to a nearby town for an Indian dinner and it was so much fun because, number one, I didn’t have to plan it and, number two, because it was new and novel. It made both of us feel fully alive. Planning for connection means that we make time for each other and that makes us both feel valued, loved, cherished and important. It certainly takes effort. A lot of organization goes into arranging our schedules so that we can connect. And, it’s been totally worth it. Every time we walk hand in hand or with our arms around each other, dressed in lovely outfits, with big smiles on our faces, I feel fully alive and that we are love in action. One time, we were walking down a street in that very way and a man ran out of the parking booth where he worked, came up to us with a big smile on his face and exclaimed in a lovely Jamaican accent, “You two look really great together, man!” When you strive to feel fully alive, your marriage (or relationship) will have no choice but to blossom. The Universe is comprised of the vibrations of celebration, joy, delight and satisfaction. When you consciously put yourself in alignment with those feelings and experiences, you become love in action.


The best ways I know to feel fully alive are to:

  • Be love in action

  • Set intentions

  • Have a vision

  • Be interesting and interested

  • Prioritize creativity over consumption

  • Plan to connect

If you’re wanting to feel more fully alive, what little nugget can you take away from what’s been shared here? You might like to choose one thing to experiment with and put your focus on it for the next week. Maybe you create a vision for your relationship and align yourself with it as much as possible. Perhaps you plan and go on a fun date. Or, you could ask a great question to stimulate deeper connection. In my experience, it’s made a world of difference in our marriage to strive to feel fully alive.


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Christina Marlett Brainz Magazine
 

Christina Marlett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine As the creator of Courageous Self-Care, Christina is passionate about helping stressed out high achievers learn to lead their communities, families and themselves from a place of wholeness, overflowing energy and deep self-respect. She excels at helping overwhelmed leaders revitalize their energy from the inside out so that they can be productive and peaceful at the same time. Christina is a certified Embodiment Coach, Body Awake Yoga teacher, Happy for No Reason Trainer, Energy Codes Facilitator and BEST Practitioner who helps you take inspired action so that you have epic relationships, vibrant health and so much energy that people will ask you what you’ve been doing differently.

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