When I think of how to raise healthy kids, I immediately think of their mental health. I think of our need as humans for relationship and one of my main goals for my children is to teach them how to pick a healthy mate and how to have a healthy relationship.
I think of my struggle to not self sabotage in my choice of mate.
I think of my inability to lean into happiness, because it felt boring.
I think of my need for chaos that arose from a childhood full of uncertainty.
I think of my faulty coping skills that arose from that childhood and led to reacting instead of responding.
I think of where my life could be today, had I not chosen healthy.
We are the role models for how to have a healthy, happy relationship. Our kids are watching us every single day. They are watching us pick small, insignificant battles. They are watching us slam the kitchen cabinets in disgust. They are watching us slowly pick our mate apart, in an effort to make ourselves feel more justified. They are watching us ignore each other for our phones, or television. They are watching us focus on them intently, so we don't have to focus on ourselves.
Are you proud of the relationship model you are providing?
Do you hope your children have a marriage like yours?
If the answer is no, take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. It's okay. No one taught us how to be in a relationship, unless you are the lucky recipient of wonderful relationship role models. Even, then....this is hard stuff! Every single day huh? I'm supposed to love my mate every single day?! Even when they're annoying?
Mindfulness isn't a guru on a mountain. Mindfulness is learning to deal with our everyday lives, by being present. By being self aware, accountable and empathetic.
The more self aware you are, you begin to notice feelings that inform your thoughts. Those thoughts ruminate over and over in your head. Then....those thoughts create behaviors. If you haven't spent time noticing this pattern, the behaviors might be contributing to an unhealthy cycle.
The more accountable you are, you start to recognize your part in the cycle. Regardless of what cycle you are in, you are at least a contributing partner. Bring that feeling in. Accountability. What if you just took notice of how you contribute. Good, bad or ugly. Be real with yourself, I know it hurts....but it's necessary.
The more empathetic you are with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, the more you are able to extend that empathy to your partner. They aren't perfect either. They struggle too. They makes mistakes and so do you, and that is okay.
Grace is one of the biggest gifts you can give in a marriage. Grace is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your children. Modeling grace is hard, and it requires we give ourselves grace first. Tall order for many of us.
I believe that the best resolution you can make in 2016 is to resolve to put your marriage first.
Resolve to love, even through the irritation.
Resolve to table big issues for a time you are both in a good head space. Try talking about big things when you are exercising together, or just go on a walk.
Resolve to give your kids the short version of certain issues you've worked on in your marriage (ensuring it's appropriate of course). Give them the building blocks it took to compromise with each other. Always ensuring you lay a foundation of security.
Resolve to not just teach your boys how to treat women, but teach your girls what it takes to love a man. Or, how to love their partner in general, man or woman.
Resolve to take a "time out" when things get heated.
Resolve to be mindful of the time you are given together. Spend it with each other, not just sitting beside each other while you busy your minds with a distraction.
Resolve to build a friendship with your partner.
Resolve to say you're sorry when it's needed.
Resolve to work on your own issues, instead of projecting onto your partner.
Resolve to model healthy habits with your partner.
Resolve to grow together, as there is no better gift to your children than seeing their parents actively seek out individual growth and relationship growth.
Resolve to support each other in every area of growth....even the ones that scare you.
Lastly, resolve to be honest with your children. Don't hide the fact that marriage is tough, as we don't want them to go to sleep with fairy tales in their head of the day they meet their mate and ride off into the sunset. We all know that isn't reality. Carefully choosing what you share with your children, will ensure that you are able to be honest in your depiction of the hard parts of marriage and the absolutely, life changing, beautiful parts of marriage.