Shared meaning is not the same as being in love. It contributes to falling in love, of course, but it matures over time and makes your marriage richer and deeper.
Almost anyone can fall in love. Committing to a relationship and staying open to change is a different story. When couples experience a sense of shared meaning, they are in tune with each other. They may disagree or even fight from time to time, but they remain on the same wavelength and share a similar vision.
The specifics and details will vary and evolve but the foundation is strong and supportive. Your connection is not just about paying bills, raising kids, or feeling lust. There is meaning to your relationship and it’s something both of you share.
Daily Ways to Cultivate a Sense of Shared Meaning
Before we get to the big picture or long-term aspects of shared meaning, let’s first discuss some day-to-day perceptions and behaviors. Aiming your focus in these four directions enable a couple to stay attuned in an emotional sense.
This is more than what we traditionally view as our “sex life.” This means holding hands, cuddling, making out, holding eye contact, and more. Make intimacy a 24/7 shared experience and feel your bond rapidly strengthen.
Birthdays, promotions, highest score on a video game, your best time in a 5k—whatever it may be, celebrate it…together. Make it a big deal! Keep the joy and the playfulness alive in your marriage! Remind each other, as often as possible, that you’re on the same team.
He may tell you a story he’s told before. She might not screw the toothpaste cap on tightly. It’s not that big of a deal. You will feel irritated at times. Be patient. Learn to discern when and where to assign urgency.
Solo time is crucial. Social time without each other is healthy. But always schedule bonding together time, e.g. exercise, taking classes, day trips, etc. These collaborations enrich your lives and create indelible memories. Take care not to let your marriage become stagnant.
4 Big Ways to Make Your Marriage Richer, Deeper and Stronger with Shared Meaning
1. Create and Work Towards Big Picture Goals
One of the big steps towards a shared vision is setting intentions. After the honeymoon, it’s crucial to keep your feet on the ground. Commit boldly to your plans and revel in the pursuit of goals.
2. Communicate About Your Shared Vision
Goals are not attained by accident and goals are not achieved alone. This is an opportunity to improve communication skills and then use those skills to deepen your connection. Choose to be direct and honest when discussing your needs and feelings.
3. Commit to the Long-Term Process
A productive option is to commit to regularly scheduled meetings or conversations—face-to-face—to stay on the same wavelength. In other aspects of your life, you rarely leave anything to chance. Why in the world would you allow that to be the case in your most important relationship?
4. Appreciate the Moments Along the Way
Meanwhile, life goes on all around us. Shared meaning involves an appreciation of the moment. Your future as a couple is made up of thousands of memorable experiences that might be called “small” or “minor.” In reality, these daily (hourly?) moments are the glue that keeps the big picture, long-term vision intact.
How Shared Commitment Can Make Your Marriage Richer, Deeper and Stronger
Our culture has us believing love is all we need. This mindset may be exciting at first but over time, it inspires some very unproductive patterns.
Some couples enter into a marriage without ever discussing their values and goals in life. They may, as a result, reach an impasse when their visions for the future collide and disagreement ensues. You may find it difficult to navigate those important discussions.
Sharing time and commitment within the realm of couples counseling can support your hard relationship work. It’s also a way for each partner to show the other they are in this for the long haul. Working together, and for each other, can be a powerfully bonding and enlightening experience.