Marriage is a journey and a commitment to building a life together. Unfortunately, in today's world, it can be easy to lose perspective and become bogged down in the present. The constant stressors of social unrest, unemployment, and a global pandemic make it hard to remain positive, and a marriage without hope is a marriage without a future.
Happiness in marriage is linked closely to both hope and motivation. Dr. Gordon Livingston claims that, “the three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.” Anticipation of the future is what makes the journey of marriage enjoyable and attainable.
While many experts today may advise concentrating on the present and releasing past concerns or future worries, this can be detrimental to a relationship. In fact, it's impossible to effectively and meaningfully live “in the present” without a clear vision of the future you are working towards as a couple.
According to research by Dr. Hal Hershfield at UCLA, acknowledging your “future self” as a separate person than who you are today may encourage better decisions in the present. As you face challenging choices as a married couple, it will be crucial to consider what your future selves would want. If you lack a clear concept of who you'd like to be and where you'd like to go, it doesn't matter who you are today.
Hope is essential to a healthy marriage. According to research on Hope Theory, in order to have hope, you must have a set objective, believe there is a path to that goal, and assume you can do something about it. You can't have hope in your marriage without a vision for the future.
Motivation is also paramount to a healthy marriage. According to Expectancy Theory, motivation relies on three factors:
- Determining a clear and compelling goal.
- Envisioning a straightforward path to achieving that goal.
- Retaining the confidence that you can do what is required.
While both hope and motivation are important to a marriage, this focus on the future should not detract from current joys. Regularly practicing gratitude for what was, what is, and what may someday be is not an acceptance of the permanence of present struggles but a shift in mindset to promote a positive outlook.
To foster a loving and fulfilling marriage, it's important to have a clear vision of the future you want to create together. It's important to make informed and intentional decisions based on that vision, to have hope and motivation towards achieving it, and to appreciate the present while looking forward to a happy future together.
As a married couple, it's important to remember that both the past and future are incredibly significant. These shape our character and our objective. By having a clear concept of our future selves, we can make informed and intentional decisions today that will lead to a happier and healthier marriage tomorrow. You must begin with the end in mind and work towards a future overflowing with hope, motivation, and happiness.