What if marriage is like a book? When you get married you begin in the middle of a newly printed book. Can you smell the pages? Do you feel the crispness as you open the cover? If you are an e-reader, go to the bookstore and experience this. In my opinion, it is right up there with a new pair of socks and freshly washed sheets. It may even top fresh hot vanilla creamer with a little bit of coffee. Lay the book in front of you on your wedding day and you begin to write your story with your partner, your teammate, your lover. A few pages into the story things are flowing pretty well, but you start to feel the genre changing to a possible thriller instead of a romance novel. You quickly turn to the back of the book to see how it ends, pages are blank. You flip to the beginning and low and behold you read about your partner’s childhood that wasn’t always pleasant. Ah ha, that explains why he reacted to you when you innocently said…. “___” Fill in the blank, it is your story.
At the end of my marriage I want my book to look like a weathered, beat up, classic, well-read book. I want it to have words and entire sections highlighted. I want wrinkled pages from tears, coffee stains and dog eared pages. How do you want your book to look at the end of your marriage? Brand new, never opened, covered in dust or do you want a classic that has been duct taped together so the binding does not fall apart? The amazing thing about this book is that the endorsements for this book will continue long after you pass away. If you have children, they will continue to endorse or disregard your “book”. Today, you get to impact the endorsements you receive. Pretty powerful. You also get to choose whether or not you ever go to Chapter 1, grab a blanket, curl up and settle in. It will be different than your own chapter 1. Your partner had a unique experience just like you did. Want to read about? I dare you. Begin by asking questions such as, “Tell me about your favorite birthday. Tell me a sad memory. Do you remember being disappointed by your family? What were your friends like?” We know the stories of our children’s lives and our own, but how well do we know the one we have chosen to spend the rest of our life with?
Now think about the years you have been married. What would the first chapter of your wedded life be titled? Mine, “Baby in ten”. Yep, married, house and then 10 months later we were parents. When our last child left for college and we became empty nesters, it was an eye opening moment to realize throughout our entire married life, there was only one month of the 20 years together we were not “with” child. I would then have titled the 20th chapter, “Newlyweds At Last”.
What do you want this chapter of your marriage to be titled? Because you get to coauthor the book of your marriage, include your spouse in this simple exercise. Make a list of chapter titles for each year you have married, do this separately. This may take some time. If it is difficult to do for each year of your marriage, feel free to group a few together. For example” 1-2, 3-5, 6-10, 11-15, etc. Compare your titles and discuss why you titled it what you did. End the exercise by asking what you want this year’s chapter to be titled, it is not over yet, unless it is your anniversary. Which I say, “Congratulations and I challenge you to title your next year, “The best year yet!””
For fun, please list your most interesting title that you come up with.
Author: Elizabeth Havens, MFT clinical intern- firstname.lastname@example.org
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