By: Andelin Price
The words we say MATTER! Every word we use carries with it a vibrational frequency. If you want to get into the science of this idea, you can look it up. But the fact is, words carry emotion.
Here’s an example. When you think of the word darkness, what do you feel? I immediately feel a little bit lower, heavier, closed off. When I hear the word light, I feel lifted. My heart opens up a little bit. Go ahead; try it. Choose a few words and check in with your body, to see what kind of vibration they carry for you. A word can be connected to different emotions for different people, depending on their life experience.
It’s ok if you don’t know the specific emotion attached to every word (that would take a long time!). It’s enough to know if the word feels more closed or open; more constricting or more expansive.
How does this apply to Marriage?
When you were about to be married, what was the advice you received? Most of us are told things like, “Marriage is hard. You have to learn to compromise,” or “marriage requires a lot of sacrifice.” (It’s a wonder any of us got married at all, with this kind of advice! But I digress.)
I am on a mission to change the language we use to describe our relationships, particularly in our long term intimate relationships. Here are 3 common offenders:
Compromise sounds good, at first. It’s like, yeah, I want to be flexible, easy to work with, or accommodating. But it actually means that everyone has to give up something they want. So basically, in a compromise, everyone gets a “sorta crappy” deal. “Compromised” can mean being exposed to an enemy, or jeopardized. Not my favorite way to think about the workings of a marriage partnership.
Collaboration, on the other hand, feels so much more open. It suggests that we put our heads together and create a way for everyone to have what they want. We find a way to create here there is enough room for everyone’s needs to be met. Where everyone gets equal say. And when everyone has what they need, we empower each other and our relationship benefits.
I’m sure we’ve all been told the importance of sacrifice in a marriage. The message is something like this: marriage requires sacrifice. You should sacrifice what you want for the good of the family. Merriam-Webster defines sacrifice this way: “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” And I’ll tell you that when I thought I needed to sacrifice what I needed for the sake of others, it certainly felt destructive to me.
Sacrifice is a scarcity word. It says that there’s not enough to go around, so someone has to go without. Because there really is enough to go around, for everyone’s needs to be met (and then some).
Rather than sacrificing, I now choose to give. When a child needs my attention in the middle of the night, I don’t “sacrifice” my sleep. I am choosing to give up a little sleep so that my child will feel cared for. It’s a worthwhile exchange, in my opinion. And, when I am in need of some self care, I give myself that, even if it requires someone else to wait until I’m ready to give them my attention.
I know that when I give myself the care I need, I am so much better able to be there for others. As the saying goes, you can’t give from an empty cup. Thing is, I fill my own cup; nobody else can really do that for me.
Where and how to give of myself isn’t always an easy balance point to find, but sacrificing too much is ALWAYS going to feel out of balance. And when giving, there is no resentment, only Love.
I see a lot of people, women especially, misunderstanding what selfishness is. She might want to take some time to connect with friends, get a haircut, or take a nap, but she won’t do it because she’s telling herself it would be selfish. Sometimes she won’t allow others to serve her because she’s worried of being seen as selfish.
Selfish feels like such a dark, icky word to me. It’s not that selfishness doesn’t exist; it definitely does. But most of the time, a mom who spends most of her time in the care of others is the furthest thing from it. But due to cultural messaging, she doesn’t know the difference between true selfishness and honest self-care.
Instead of telling myself I’m selfish for taking care of myself, I remind myself that I can be willing to receive. In the past if a friend or family member offered to help, I would deflect. I remember a time when we were newly married and had a young child, I had mentioned to a friend how it had been so long since I had vacuumed my home. Instead of saying, “well, let me know if I can help with that,” she asked where the vacuum was, and she vacuumed my living room right then and there. Admittedly, it was a little uncomfortable for me (even though I was thankful for her help). Because I was not accustomed to receiving. When help was offered, I would think, “I should do everything myself. I don’t want to be a burden.” What I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t allowing others the opportunity to give, because I wasn’t willing to receive their gift. So not only was I making it harder for myself, I was also preventing them from having the blessing of serving me.
For the past few years, my husband’s work schedule has often allowed him the time to cook dinner for our family. In the past I felt a little bit uncomfortable when my husband would cook. I saw it as “my job” and that I should be the one doing it. But now, after a few conversations with him about it, I understand that it’s a gift he wishes to give to me and the rest of the family. Now I gratefully receive it. And in receiving, all are blessed with greater feelings of love for one other. It has created a more expanded and equal partnership for us.
Being intentional about the words you use can create more expansiveness in any relationship. I know it sounds simple, but it’s true. I know, because I’ve experienced it. I have seen the shifts in my own life toward more expansiveness just by changing the words I use. I would love to hear how this works for you.
With Love, Andelin