The Go-Giver Marriage – 5 Secrets to Lasting Love (Episode 290)
There are a lot of marriage books out there, and there are several I could recommend as a great read. There is one in particular, however, I have found as my go-to for clients. It's called The Go-Giver Marriage: A Little Story About The 5 Secrets To Lasting Love.
Last year, as I looked at my goals and intentions, I was on a mission to read more. And read I did! I'm pretty proud of the fact that I read 30 books in 2022, and, while my goal wasn't about the number, it's amazing what all I was able to accomplish simply by preserving my first morning hour for reading.
Ages ago I read the Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea and I loved the principles laid out in that book. So when my father gave me this marriage-focused book a few years ago, I knew I'd enjoy the message.
The key of the book, much like the original business-focused one, is how little everyday acts of generosity can completely transform - and deepen - any relationship.
Written as a fable-within-a-parable plus a guide for the 5 secrets, I found that this was the perfect essence of what I wanted marriage to be - in my own life, and for my clients.
What Is Your Purpose?
I know here in the USA, the first question is often, "What do you do?" like our only identity is in our work. And there is this pressure to produce more and more...for what?
We've talked about the Mexican fisherman before, and I want to share it again here:
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.
Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while." The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Sometimes we lose our focus. We get so distracted on making a living we forget that we're living this life. And we don't have any rollover minutes.
In the Go-Giver Marriage, Tom and Tess are a couple with the best of intentions, and yet their marriage (and ultimately the life they'd created together) were challenged by the demands of work, a child with special needs, and a life that was spent more in reaction mode than truly seeing it for what it was.
And then, over the span of a few hours, they both learn from a cast of different characters all about the five powerful secrets to building a love that lasts. Not only that, they were able to witness the ripple effect of what this one key area of focus would do in their overall lives.
Let's Skip to the Message
The story of Tom and Tess is something that can strike home for so many of us. There will be some element of their own life that will resonate. Maybe it's the maxed out feeling of work, or the desire to be there for your child while also having your own career. Or maybe you've struggled with your own special needs in your own home.
The story is a great way to see the practice in action. And that's just it. Love is a practice. And it's an intentional practice that creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of your life.
It's been boiled down five essential secrets, which we'll break down here.
Keep it simple.
Lasting love is like good health: more than any grand gestures or big, dramatic life changes, it's built out of the little things you do every day.
Gratitude is oftentimes glossed over, yet the few seconds it takes to tell someone you appreciate them can make all the difference in your relationship. And, it's not just about a general appreciation, like, "thanks for cooking dinner."
I love how this checked me in my generalizations. Yes, it's nice to hear a thank you now and then. However, how does it feel to hear things like this?
Thank you for stopping what you're doing and looking at me when I speak - it makes me feel valued and heard.
Thank you for remembering to pick up the bread on the way home - I appreciate how I can trust you when I'm feeling frazzled.
I love just being held by you and the feeling of our breath in sync.
Appreciation can go way beyond just gratitude. It's seeing them. It's true recognition of the little things that make them who they are. There is a whole list in the book that are great ideas for showing appreciation in a very specific way.
In each of these sections, authors John David and Ana Gabriel Mann lay out a daily practice, and I love these:
Your Daily Practice: Each day, find three things to appreciate about your partner, and take the time to tell them.
This is a bit of a perspective shift. The Manns explain how, as small children, those who loved us would care for us; they would attend to our needs. As we grow, so does our autonomy, and we don't "need" that same sort of care.
Yet that inner child - the one that finds sanctuary and security in being lovingly attended to - that is still a part of who we are. And it's a vulnerable part that can be easy to build a brick wall around.
When we allow our partners to attend to us, we deepen the connection and trust, as we step in to support one another.
Maybe you're supporting your partner by taking up some of the household and parenting tasks. Maybe you're giving them a massage or drawing a candlelit bath for them, or simply noticing them in the moment and checking in.
Your Daily Practice: Find at least one way each day to show your love for your partner through some meaningful, tangible action.
As we grow up and move into our autonomy, not only do we have less people attending to us, we also start to draw more defined lines around what we'll allow, what we expect, and what we want.
And that sometimes can really encroach on a relationship, and an agenda on what could be gets more prominent than the reality of what is.
What this looks like is showing up to support one another instead of criticizing each other in your weaknesses.
I know for us a big way this happened was how we would "tag team" with the kids when they were little. When I had those frazzled moments of being at my wit's end with the kids, it seemed like Nathan had a radar and could step in at just the perfect time to give me a break when I needed it. Sometimes I didn't even realize I did, yet he was attentive and able to see how he could best support even when I couldn't identify it myself.
Sometimes we need to simply allow them to be where they are, with all the rough edges, and be willing to smooth and cushion for our partner. I don't always respond perfectly to life. And I'm so grateful for a partner who gives me the grace to allow me to grow into a better human being every day.
Your Daily Practice: Find one new way each day to support your partner, give them the space they need, show kindness, or ease their burden.
Empathy is a critical part of who we are. It's what connects us to one another, and no, I don't believe its unique to just us humans. I shared this recently, and I'll continue to - this is my most favorite explanation of what true empathy is:
Do you truly have faith in your partner? We all have insecurities. Does your partner validate your insecurities, or speak faith and confidence in who you are?
It's important to share whether or not we believe in one another. If you don't believe in someone, you aren't going to easily trust them with critical things in a family - like running a household, managing bills, taking care of children...
When we lack a basic belief in our partner showing up, it's a red flag for divorce. When we stop trying, and our partner accepts it...what else is there to do?
"Trust is built on the foundation of belief. When we withhold our belief in each other, we steal from our bank of trust, often without realizing it. And the converse is true, too: when we openly communicate our trust, we build a surplus in that bank of trust that can carry us through even the most difficult times.
For example, two of the most common issues underlying marital conflict are sex and money. Not coincidentally, these are also two topics that couples often avoid talking about. Yet these are central dimensions in every marriage. Why would we shrink from talking openly and honestly about them?
In part, because these are deeply personal topics. Talking about either one can make us feel extremely vulnerable. Our comfort level here likely has roots in how such topics were handled in our family of origin. We may have inherited inhibitions or attitudes we need to overcome. Bottom line, though, it's an issue of trust - which is a reflection of our core belief in each other."
The Go-Giver Marriage, Page 146
Do you have faith that your partner can get over this hump? Let them know. Do you believe in their ability to problem-solve? To whip up an amazing meal? To be an amazing friend, or smoke everyone else in pickleball? What do you believe in about your partner, and how often are you affirming that faith in them?
Your Daily Practice: Take one opportunity each day to show or express your faith in your partner.
This is essential. And this has nothing - and everything - to do with your partner. Our lives are forward motion. We risk stagnancy and complacency in our lives when we stop growing. And, often, this is exactly why marriages suffer.
I'll see one person in the relationship get excited about a book they read, or the 5k they accomplished, or some other stretch for their own growth. And then the comparison trap sets in. The other partner starts looking at their own growth.
Are you threatened by your partner's growth? Do you feel resentment and find yourself justifying why you can't grow to the same level?
Or does it inspire you to bring your own growth to the table - to spark new conversation and insights from your own personal growth and discovery?
I'm proud of the growth I've accomplished this past year just through reading books. That's not even counting the 100 push-ups a day challenges Nathan took me down, or how we both grew a lot in learning how to parent two teenage daughters.
Maybe growth looks like pursuing a course in something you're curious in. Maybe it's taking up a hobby that stretches and challenges you - it could be painting, baking or rock climbing - the sky is the limit.
Your Daily Practice: Spend at least one hour every day doing something that brings you closer to who you're seeking to become - to being your best self. Build your cathedral.
Remember, love is a practice. It's actively showing up and engaging each and every day, and choosing to love that person as much as you can for that day.
And the jarring thing is, the more you love yourself, the easier it is to love them in the process. As we focus on our own growth and grace as we learn, it gives us the opportunity to see that in our partner.
Focus on these five not-so-secret "secrets" to lasting love:
Don't even worry about what your partner is doing. Our challenge is to you - the one reading this blog post and listening to this podcast. Just you.
Do these five things every day this week. See how your partner responds.
Do this for YOUR sake.
It's not your job to make them happy - it's your job to make YOU happy - and when you start looking at your relationship through these lenses, I have a feeling you'll find way more joy you have to offer and share with those beyond you.
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