You see a man collapsed on the ground. He’s not moving, and it doesn’t appear that he’s even breathing. You gently shake him but he doesn’t respond. You therefore assume he is unconscious, and call for help.
In less than 2 seconds, you can determine if another human being is conscious or not.
Is it possible to do the same in your marriage? Can you quickly determine if your marriage is conscious?
Marriage researcher John Gottman is famous for stating that he can predict the success of a marriage within the first 15 minutes of observing a couple. The key to his analysis is in observing how a couple discusses a contentious topic. Do they criticize each other? Are they defensive? Do they show outward signs of contempt?
In the same way that most of us can quickly tell if someone is conscious or not, Gottman found a way to tell if the relationship between a husband and wife is healthy enough to survive the every day challenges of marriage.
Now maybe you are wondering about your own marriage…. Is there any easy way to tell?
Thankfully, you don’t have to become a marriage expert. You just need to understand the value of consciousness.
Consciousness in Marriage
As a differentiating value, Consciousness means awareness; being awake and aware; responsive to the environment.
Here’s how these three important factors relate to marriage:
1) Awareness. In a healthy marriage, both spouses are generally aware of how the other is feeling. If there is a change in mood or behavior, the other is immediately aware of it. Here are some questions for you to ponder:
- Are you aware of how your spouse is feeling today?
- Are you aware of any mood changes in your spouse?
- Are you aware of any mood changes in yourself towards your spouse?
- Are you aware of any unexplainable changes in your relationship with your spouse?
2) Being awake and aware. In a healthy marriage, both spouses are awake and alert to any shifts or changes occurring in the head (thinking) or heart (feelings) of their partner. Here are some questions for your to ponder:
- Has your spouse suddenly changed his/her mind about something important? If so, are you aware of the reason(s) why?
- Has your spouse become more critical or more opinionated than before? If so, do you know why?
- Is your spouse sadder or more withdrawn than normal? If so, do you know why?
- Is your spouse suddenly more friendly or happier than normal? If so, are you aware of the reason(s) why?
3) Responsive to the environment. In a healthy marriage, both spouses are responsive to what’s happening around them, especially if it affects the other person. Here are some questions for you to ponder:
- The last time something good happened to your spouse, how did you respond?
- The last time something bad or unpleasant happened to your spouse, how did you respond?
- When you see your spouse is not happy, how long do you wait before deciding to respond?
- When you feel something is not right with your spouse, how long before you take action?
Notice that all of the questions above are ultimately directed at YOU. That’s right…. to evaluate the consciousness of your marriage, you only need to look at yourself.
In other words, if you’re wondering about your marriage and you struggled with any of the questions above, you might be less conscious than you should be.
So how can you help yourself to wake up and improve your marriage?
Start by talking with you spouse.
All great solutions begin with a healthy dialogue about the problem. Once you are both aware and alert about the problem, you can begin formulating appropriate solutions.
Engage third party help.
If the problem(s) are more severe than either of you were aware, or can address, don’t hesitate to engage a professional marriage counselor. Just as you would call for help and look to emergency response teams when you find someone semi-conscious or unconscious, do the same for your marriage. And don’t wait until it’s too late!
If you’re looking for additional insights or ideas, here are a few other articles that might help:
- 25 Ways To Enhance Your Marriage With Your Gift Of Dexterity
- A Shift in Marriage Continuity: from Reliability to Break-Fix
- 10 Ways to Be More Helpful to Your Spouse
- A little proactivity in marriage helps prevent getting burned
What are other ways to measure the consciousness of a marriage?
Today’s value was selected from the “Fairness-Respect” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Value.