Part 2: Embracing Authenticity in Dating & Marriage
When I think about the number of weddings I’ve attended over the years, and then think about how many of those marriages have ended in divorce, it blows my mind. It blows my mind because I think about the challenges my husband and I have experienced in our own marriage.
I think about how 11 years after some of the most difficult times, we’re still here. Then I think about what’s made the difference. What is it that’s kept us, when everything at the time warranted giving up and not looking back? In retrospect, it was authenticity.
The authentic faith I talked about last week was critical to our relationship turning out the way that it has. Just as critical was our decision to strive to attain authenticity in our marriage. We had to strive for what we thought was already there, but really wasn’t – not entirely anyway. We had to put forth our respective efforts to create the type of marriage that I believe we both knew we wanted to have. While it wasn’t always easy, my husband and I are witnesses that attaining authenticity in marriage (and dating) is not impossible.
STEPS TOWARD ATTAINING AUTHENTICITY IN DATING AND MARRIAGE
Whether dating or married, authenticity is critical to the success of our relationships, and attaining it requires a willingness to make sacrifices as well as adjustments to our personal perceptions and behaviors. To achieve authenticity in dating (to clarify, not the fly by night dating with no true purpose/intent other than to fill idle time) and marriage, we must:
1. Be vulnerable. We must be willing to unveil to our man the things in our lives that make us uncomfortable and expose us, including the areas that are still broken and in need of repair. We’ve got to stop being so guarded and have the courage to say, “This is me. The good. The bad. The ugly.” Doing so says to your man: “I trust you with all of me.” If we cannot trust one another enough to be open about who we are for wanting to appear faultless and all the way together, then we’ll be left with a relationship full of unrealistic expectations incapable of being fulfilled.
Being vulnerable also presents an opportunity for your man to give you the love and support you need and in a way that is most effective. This is where The Five Love Languages comes into play. If you don’t know what your love language is, I encourage you to take the assessment I posted on my Facebook page earlier this week. Share your results with your guy (and let him take it too), then allow yourself to be open enough to receive the type of love you want and need in order to be your very best in the relationship.
2. Avoid making the relationship all about us. While being vulnerable exposes our own needs, we can’t let our needs dominate the relationship. It’s not all about us. Authenticity is also about dependability. Your man has needs and depends on you to acknowledge his needs without being subjected to shame and ridicule. Don’t discount his needs or the burdens he carries. Instead, exhibit grace. Be selfless enough to share his burdens (Galatians 6:2) and carry them to the cross, rather than take them to your girls who may be anxiously awaiting the chance to unload their baggage, passing off their bad experiences in unauthentic relationships as if they are destined to be your own.
There’s so much more that can be said about the importance of striving for authentic relationships. If I kept going, this would no longer be a series of mini posts, but I at least wanted to share with you some of the things that were helpful in transforming my own relationship.
Today, I hope you’re left feeling encouraged and hopeful about the possibilities that exist for your own relationship. If so, please share this post with someone else. I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of this series Embracing Authenticity.