Take a look at the declarations below and assess where you are in your marriage relationship. This could be a good starting place for creating a wholehearted marriage or building on one that already exists! And take a look, even if you’re not married, and think about how you deal with those in your closest relationships.
The Wholehearted Marriage Manifesto
Above all else, we need to know that we love each other and that we each are loveable. We will learn this from our words and actions—the lessons on love are in how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves.
We must desire to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. We will learn that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time we observe each other practicing self-compassion and embracing and acknowledging to each other our own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our marriage by showing up, letting ourselves be seen by each other and being emotionally vulnerable. We will share with each other our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our marriage for both.
We will value and express compassion for each other, and will begin with being compassionate with ourselves first. We will set and respect personal boundaries in our own lives and with others; we will value hard work, hope and perseverance. We will rest and we will play together.
We will experience each other making mistakes, but also making amends to each other and to others, and we will experience each other asking for what we need and talking about how we feel.
We must desire to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
We must desire to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity are present, we will be able to draw from the Spirit of God that is present in our marriage relationship and our everyday life.
In our marriage we will cry and face fear and grief together. Although we will want to take away each other’s pain, we will instead sit with each other, listen from our hearts, and be with one another at that time.
Freedom will be a foundation within our marriage—freedom to be ourselves with each other—and no matter, what, we will always know that we belong. Fear will not belong and will not be allowed to take up residence in our marriage relationship.
As we live from a place of wholeheartedness, the greatest gift we can give each other in our marriage is to continue to step out and risk living fully and loving one another with all of our hearts, even (and especially) when we hurt one another.
We will not do any of these things perfectly in our marriage relationship, but we will allow ourselves to be seen by each other and we will always hold this as a sacred gift.
The above was adapted from Brene Brown’s “The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto” found in her book, “Daring Greatly.” Brene’s work in the areas of vulnerability and shame has been very helpful to us and to our clients. In her “Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto,” she provides an excellent overview of parenting from the perspective that if parents can live wholeheartedly from a place of worthiness and vulnerability, this will extend to how they will parent their children. Parenting becomes more of what is “caught” rather than what is “taught.”
As we shared Brene’s manifesto, we began to see how these items were not necessarily limited to parenting, but to other relationships, and particularly within marriage. We have seen how toxic shame (unworthiness) blocks emotional and spiritual vulnerability in so many couples who come to us for help. So what would it be like if spouses could begin to treat each other the same way that Brene’s manifesto advocates for parenting? As a result, we decided to adapt her manifesto for marriages. We realize, of course, that in order to truly create a “wholehearted marriage,” we must be surrendered to God and we must allow His healing presence to work in our hearts.
Until next week . . .
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry through our web site at www.fathersheart.com or email us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-oriented environment and have established opportunities for ministry to individuals or couples for time periods as little as a few hours to as long as five days.