Change is in the air.
Thanks to the miracle of rapid vaccine production, our daughter can now see her grandparents again. We can see our friends again. And we're on the cusp of safely gathering together in groups for parties, weddings, and events.
Walking around our town last weekend, we noticed a new atmosphere of excitement and hope in our city. We could feel the sense of a “new normal" beginning to arrive.
This moment of transition means that our habits, routines, and structures of life in marriage are also about to change.
That's a good thing. But it carries with it potential risk and reward. The potential risk is that we adopt new habits in marriage by accident, a result that's likely to lead to no change at all -- or, worse, conflict and struggle. The potential rewardarises if we're able to adapt consciously to this "new normal" and use it as an opportunity to build connection and love.
So how can you turn this transition into an opportunity to improve your marriage?
What do you want your life together to look like in this “new normal"? It’s always helpful to ask this kind of question as a way to clarify your vision in marriage.
But during times like these, when we're experiencing unprecedented change, you have the unique opportunity to use this question to create a new way of being together by design instead of by accident.
So what's your answer to this question?
For some couples, adventure is the vision. It’s just about time to jump on a plane together and travel the world. For other couples, financial security is the vision. It’s time to focus on work, career, and sound investments. For still other couples, family time is the vision. It’s time to carve out space for connection and fun together.
So see what happens when you identify your vision. Then, create an intentional design for your life in this “new normal“ around them.
In the “Boundaries" chapter of The 80/80 Marriage, we offer an exercise called “What’s on Your Boat?" The basic idea is to imagine your life as though it were a boat at sea.
It's an invitation to first ask yourself: “What are the primary time in energetic commitments on our boat?"
This question then sets the stage for an even more powerful question: “With clear boundaries, what could our new boat look like? Which commitments and obligations would we keep? Which ones would we throw overboard?" To go all in with this exercise, check out the full practice at the end of Chapter 11.
Our new life in this “new normal" brings with it new logistics, tasks, and events. And, let's face it, someone has to do these things. It's either going to be you or your partner.
So if you don't think intentionally about your new roles, one of you is likely to take on all sorts of new tasks and responsibilities by accident. And when this happens -- surprise, surprise -- all sorts of resentment and conflict will emerge.
There’s a better way to think about roles in moments of transition. Get clear on who does what in this new era of your life. Figure out which roles you want to divide between the two of you and which roles you want to share together.
We realize this might now sound all that romantic -- that it sounds like something you might do a corporate offsite. But running a life together in this crazy modern world is about as complicated as running a small business. Without getting clear on roles, you risk creating the conditions of constant resentment, role confusion, and chaos. That's why it's more fun and even more sexy to get clear on your roles before a time of change.