Let me quickly relate a strange phrase I heard spoken to my friend at the dojo (karate gym), many years ago. I was thrilled to witness a long time friend, become a new black belt recipient at the dojo we spent several nights a week working out together. What the instructor (sensei) said as she passed the black belt to her prize diligent student, made me pause about my own training and journey to the top rank of black belt.
Sensei Bishop said as she passed her student, his black belt, “Now you are ready to learn!” She said other words of encouragement, but these jarred me immensely.
Did I hear her right? He was ready to begin his training? He’s a black belt! A trained tough guy!
Give me some slack since this was the first time I witnessed someone receive their black belt in Jujitsu, Karate. What Sensei Bishop said, fascinated me, because I knew the fellow who was the new black belt recipient well and how much he had worked for many years of focused intense training to get to this level.
What went through my mind was, “Man if it took him years of intense dedication, every week, to arrive at this pinnacle, how will I ever make it? I’m not sure I even want to come back!” Of course I did return, yet I never attained to the level of black belt. I progressed through several levels (belts).
Reflecting on those years of training and going through regular disciplined workouts every week, I believe there are many lessons I still practice today, nearly fifty years later.
No I don’t practice those moves any more, but that training has helped me in marriage coaching. Marriage relationships can learn from the martial arts teaching I learned years ago. Really there are a lot of similarities for our marriage.
As I reflect on the similarities between the martial arts and marriage, several ideas surface for me:
1 – When you think you have arrived, you have actually just begun to learn.
Your wedding ceremony only starts the marriage and your learning experiences. You are just getting started learning about each other. You have seen couples who thin they “really know their partner” to discover after the honeymoon, how much they actually don’t know about each other! Couples who have been married many years, share that they still learn new ideas about each other. The wedding day begins the exciting journey, if you keep your pledges uttered at the altar to focus on your life mate.
2 – There is a lot of preparation beforehand for the wedding day but this preparation only gets you ready to proceed in your life together.
It does not end the training necessary to be good at this wonderful discipline called marriage.
To improve your marriage takes focused discipline to meet your spouse’s needs. Like the lower belts in any martial arts, pre-marriage dating gets you ready to learn how to serve your spouse. Keep in mind that on dates, you were “at your best” and now after years of time spent with each other, there are few secrets left. True love is not an emotional high. It is sacrificial in nature and focused on the other person rather than on your own selfish desires. Love involves emotion but it can set aside our self-serving inadequacies to seek our spouse’s highest good.
3 – Becoming proficient at either discipline, the martial arts or a loving marriage, takes continual work to perfect your “trade”.
A vibrant, growing Marriage, is as much a discipline as any of the martial arts. Stop learning how to become a better spouse and you will digress in your relationship. How often have you heard, “We drifted apart. I don’t love him/her anymore!” Take each other for granted and you become distant, wondering why you don’t feel as close as you used to. Even as I would work on one aspect of a specific move over and over, your marriage takes dedicated focus on each segment to grow properly. As a couple you can work on your marriage by : going to a weekend seminar; reading a marriage book together on a specific segment of your personal difficulties; finding a couple to coach you who have become proficient in developing a strong marriage. These methods will teach you to be disciplined as a dedicated spouse, to your life-mate you pledged your life to, at the wedding altar.
4 – The more you learn, the more you learn, you have more to learn. (Read that one a few times.)
It is extremely applicable to your marriage. So many couples attend our seminars and feel they do not have much to learn, only to discover how much they forgot about their spouse or how much more they discover about each other. One particular couple, attended our seminar because they are friends of ours and wanted to support our work said on this final comments, “We thought after thirty nine years of marriage, we had it all figured out. Boy were we wrong!” We learned so much in these sessions about each other!” Take a weekend away together, to invest in your marriage.
Some basic questions as a couple to ask each other are:
1 – What are four or five areas of our marriage we can improve over the next twelve months?
2 – What could we do in the next six months to be more affectionate with each other?
3 – If we could go anywhere this next year for a romantic weekend together, I would like to go to …
4 – A book or course I would like us to work through together would be …
(If you need a list of books on marriage, shoot me an email & I will share some good ones on specific topics, or search Amazon.com for specific marriage or relationship topics.)
Answer these from your personal perspective :
1 – If I did six new actions to show you how much I love (or respect) you in the next three months, those actions would be …
2 – Several areas of my life I want to change for you are …
3 – For the sake of our marriage, I will do a better job of …
4 – Five things I like about you are …
5 – Five ways I have seen positive changes in me because I married you have been …
6 – Three parts of my life that I need you to help me in the next twelve months are …
7 – A couple I would like to ask to mentor us to have a stronger marriage would be …
8 – Of these issues that confront many married couples: sexual issues; finances; child raising (discipline discrepancies); in-laws; or (generate your own); I think I need to work on being a better (wife or husband) by learning how to deal with …..
9 – Something I wish we did more often together is ….
10 – To help me be a better spouse, I need your help …
So how much do you have to learn to earn a “black belt” in your marriage?
Seriously, what do you need to do, learn or focus on to make your marriage the best it can be?
If you are in a disaster and not a loving marriage, don’t get out, improve it.
There is hope, help and encouragement for every negative situation if you two are willing to learn new life skills and get back to loving each other all over again.
If you have a good marriage, it can be great!
Shoot us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
and let us help you improve our relationship today: Communication; finances; sex; Peace and security; in-laws, ???
We can help repair your marriage if you want us to help!
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Always Expect The Best For Your Marriage
as The Best Is Yet To Be!!!
Jerry & Elaine Stumpf
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