Note from Editor: + God, of course!
By Tracy Lyn Moland
Oh, I hear the groans already "not math discussions!" Students always ask their math teachers, "Will I be able to use this in the real world?" Well, marriage is an example that really does bring math into the real world. And yes, I am a math minor and since I don't get to use it much in my career as a writer I find ways to bring it in!
Before we even get to the "I do" stage of things, marriage begins with a numbers game. If you meet enough men, you are likely to find one that makes an acceptable mate. Many of us have even figured out how they line up on a percentage basis: he has this, this and this, and is lacking these two things. Over all that makes us an 80% match: yes, he is worth a first date. (By the way, if you are reading this and are still single just keep going: there is one out there. Heck, a few of us may even let ours go and increase the numbers!)
Once we have met him, we start crunching the wedding numbers. What can we afford, what must we have, what can we give up, etc? At this point, it is almost imperative that we take some kind of pre-marriage course to make sure we are compatible. Did you ever think that math would be part of a pre-marriage course? Now, money and math get a little too complicated, even for me so let's focus on just one equation:
Me + You = US
See, that's not too bad? One simple equation and we are on our way. Well, it may look simple on paper but it is incredibly important. I was at a wedding and the minister had a very interesting comment: he said we always talk about marriage as a 100% commitment. Mathematically that means that each partner only has to give 50% to the marriage: 50% +50% =100%. When I think about it in these terms, I want more than 100%. The minister went on to suggest that we adjust this equation to read 100% + 100% = 200%.
So how can we give 100% of ourselves to our marriage? Well, this comes back to the equation Me + You = US. In order to have the best US: we need to have the best Me and You. We need to take care of our selves so that we can create a much stronger marriage.
With my book being about "Taking care of the Me in Mommeee", I get asked a lot of questions about how that relates to my marriage. How is my husband with my ideas of putting myself first? My usual reply is, "It is a concept that we both practise. We both feel that we are both the best mates as well as parents when we take care of ourselves. Our marriage improves as we continue to improve ourselves."
Marriage is based upon foundations. Two of the key foundations are the pillars: the Me and You. We find and marry someone based upon their personality, their future plans and their outlook on life. That is not something that we want to change as soon as the vows are exchanged. My husband loves to mountain bike. It is one of his true passions and I knew that it would continue after marriage. If I tried to change this habit, I would be changing the person I married. I would be putting cracks in one of the pillars of our marriage.
In order to be able to give to others, we need to have something to give. We live in an extremely busy time. We, as a society, seem to thrive on chaos. Our job descriptions have increased, our to do lists tripled and our expectations of others and ourselves have increased ten fold. The more society creates time saving devices for us, the more things we find to fill the time. We are so overwhelmed, how can we give to someone else?
Thinking about and answering this equation guides us to the best marriages. Once we understand that it is not only possible but necessary to take care of the Me in the Me + You = US, the US will improve. Now remember we are looking at this as the entire equation. If the marriage is just the Me and the You taking care of themselves but not working on the US it will not find success.
So how does one take care of the Me in the Me + You = US equation?
1. Remembering that while things change in marriage, not everything has to. You need to keep the things that make you unique. Maintain hobbies and passions. (Keeping in mind that there are certain times and seasons for everything. You cannot do everything at the same time.)
2. Continue to have goals and dreams that keep you excited about the future. Some of these will be shared goals and others individual.
3. Take time every few months to really look at your life and redefine your priorities. We all assume a number of roles in our lives and at different times, different roles are more important.
4. Base your life decisions on your priorities. Know what is really important to you and be willing to let other things go.
How do you take care of the US?
1. Both partners need to respect each other's need for individuality and taking care of themselves. We have to be willing to allow the other to have their dreams, hobbies or focuses.
2. Both partners also need to understand that sometimes the best decision is made with US in mind.
3. Both partners have to understand that there are times where we need to forget about Me for a bit.
4. All 3 pieces need to be considered in decisions: the Me, the You and the US. The commitment of marriage has brought you together and while respecting the individuality, the communion is very important.
Finally, there is one more incredibly important reason to learn to take care of the Me in this equation. In most equations, it continues to grow. Many of us choose to add children to the fold of marriage: Me + You + Daughter + Son = US. The more components that are a part of the equation, the more we are required to give. We can easily, as many parents including myself have learned, lose ourselves in the larger equations. When we have lost our sense of self, we just do not have the ability to give to our family and partners the way we want and need to. So how do we make sure we have all that we need to give, we remember our math equation and take care of the Me in Me + You = US!
Until you learn to "Take Care of the Me In the Midst of We" you will not be able to truly take care of another.
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