By Dr. Shola Ezeokoli
If you are familiar with the concept of balanced living, then you will realize that anyone who is living a fulfilled life is to some degree living a balanced life. This means taking care of what I call the five pillars of balance: physical health, mental soundness, emotional wellness, spiritual wholeness and relational balance.
Can these concepts be applied to marriage? It is my humble postulation that they can.
Pillar 1. Spiritual
Too often, folks get married in church, and then put God in box, only to remember hastily, during a fight, a few scriptures taken out of context: “The Bible says you have to submit to me!” or “If you loved me like the Bible says, I would submit to you!” * Insert eye roll here *.
People have reduced spirituality in a marriage to: going to church with the spouse, loving your wife and submitting to your husband. There is more to engaging with God in your marriage than the above. It involves praying for and with your spouse, being humble enough to listen to each other, and, above all walking in love toward your spouse.
Walking in love is actions, not feelings. If you look in the Bible in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 , verses 4 to 8, you will find these different qualities of love ( “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast..). Interesting to note, there is no mention of feelings here.
Prayer should be primarily for each of you to get closer to God and each other. Prayer for the needs of your marriage and each other is also necessary. If you stay humble and listen, you and your spouse will be able to find your way through some of the hardest situations.
Pillar 2. Mental
This involves your thinking and beliefs about your marriage, which can change with the changing seasons of life and with your changing moods.
If you want to have a great marriage, you have to think great things about your marriage. If you think that “all men are dogs” or “ all women are gold diggers,” that type of thinking will not serve you well in your marriage. Think of what you want your marriage to be, and meditate on it constantly.
Renew your mind and thoughts concerning you marriage. Focus more on the positive aspects of your marriage, and they will become more obvious. Focus on the imperfections, and they will become more obvious, too. The choice is yours.
Pillar 3. Emotional
This pillar centers around finding what your spouse finds romantic and making it part of your own “marriage culture.” I recommend the book: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
Romance is supposed to make your marriage exciting, feel idealistic and feel like a love story. Do not discard romance and romance-inducing adventures after you get married. These are the things that your fondest memories are made of. Go out on dates. Dress up, and go to the opera. Buy her flowers. Cook his favorite meal. Get a stripper pole and dance to each other’s favorite songs. Dress up in costume and role-play. Send sweet romantic texts and emails. Sing to each other. Watch a sunset together. Advance the romance.
Pillar 4. Relational
One of the best things that you can do for your marriage is to sustain your friendship and make that front and center of everything you do. There are some things you would not say to your best buddy—no matter how angry you are. There is a kinship that friendship affords your marriage, which adds another layer of closeness.
Learn to see your spouse through the eyes of friendship. Intimacy and closeness is not all about sex. Good sex in marriage flows from the intimacy that a really close friendship brings. Play together. Talk. Talk. Talk. Then talk some more. Talk about everything. Chat. Share your dreams, goals and ideas. Learn a hobby, sport, game or dance together. Discover new places together. Take time to be alone together. Laugh at life together. Take on projects together. Be each other’s best friend. Be loyal to each other.
Pillar 5. Physical
Sex is like the cement of a house. You do not see it, but it’s hold the building together. So do it often, do it well.
Sex is not so much about proving your “prowess” to your partner as it is about attending to his/her sexual needs. It is less about “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” and more about a slow dance that leads to fulfillment and satisfaction for both partners.
Learn your partner’s likes and dislikes. Vary positions depending on preferences. Read about sex and learn about techniques. But avoid pornography. I firmly believe it does not improve your sex life. It just introduces “another partner” (in your head) into your bedroom, and that gives a false ideal that your or your partner will not be able to live up to. This can lead to constantly being dis-satisfied with your partner, chasing the next high and possible extra marital affairs.
Concentrate on building up and loving your partner OUTSIDE of the bedroom, and there will be a natural flow into sexual intimacy. Do not just remember to show affection to your partner when you are ready to have sex. It makes you look inauthentic, and may be off putting to your partner. Have sexual intercourse on a regular basis and be sure to see a doctor if there issues with erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, lack of orgasms, vaginal dryness or premature ejaculation.
Welcome To The Balanced Marriage!
Shola Ezeokoli is medical doctor, a life coach, author and a public speaker. She works with purposeful women, helping them get liberated from survival mode and truly live the life that they want them to live. Her books include His Delight, Shoetry, You Are The Best You (which has a companion Workbook) and her most recent, which is co-written with her husband Staying Married: 7 Key Strategies You Cannot Do Without. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.