Before I got married, I was in a relationship with a woman that I really liked. One day, while we were discussing the future, she told me that she would never marry me because I came out of a dysfunctional family. At the time her words stung, but I later realized that she actually did me a favor. Her honesty made me think about my baggage and triggered in me a desire to do some deep introspection. That introspection led me to discover my brokenness. Now that I am a happily married man, I want to share my cues to help brothers like me have a healthy marriage.
Develop Strong Self-awareness
We all carry some form of emotional baggage. Sometimes it is hidden in plain sight. When you know what your issues are, you can address them. When you don’t know, your level of love will never rise higher than your ability to overcome your personal issues. The first step toward letting go of your baggage is to become aware of what your problems are. I have seen men like me lug their baggage from relationship to relationship and every one of them ended in failure. Often, the common cause was simply a lack of self-awareness, they were not aware of their issues. You have to know yourself. Examine who you are, not who you think you are. Think about the cause and effect of your past decisions and look for the pattern of brokenness. Only then can you begin to change yourself.
Be Honest about Your Baggage
Right before I got married, I went to a counselor to help me prepare for marriage. I knew I had issues simply because I came out of a broken home. My dad never married my mom, and she never got married. I have two brothers and one sister, and we all have different fathers. I had to be honest and acknowledge that my family life did not prepare me for a healthy marriage. It was the biggest contributor to my distorted and poor model of love.
Don’t deceive yourself into believing that once you get married everything is going to change. It’s not! In fact, it’s only going to bring out the good, as well as the bad. You must be honest! Once I embraced the truth about myself, I then decided that I would not bring the multi-generational relationship failures of my family into my marriage.
Stop Listening to Your Broken Friends
I knew I did not have the tools in my utility belt to fix my situation. I needed some solid advice from a real expert, not some sugarcoated wisdom from one of my cohorts. Besides, most of them were just like me, so they could not help me. I don’t care how sincere and caring your friends are, go get some real, solid professional counsel. I met with a Christian psychologist, and he went to work on my mindset and helped me to change the pattern of my thought-life. All the tools he gave me I still use today.
Keep Working through the Bad Days
Just because you break the cycle of your emotional baggage does not mean you won’t have bad days. After 19 years of marriage and a solid mindset strategy, I have successfully broken the cycle and repaired my life. However, there are times when I fail miserably and revert back to my old ways. Your level of success is directly proportionate to your ability to work through the bad days. If you keep working, your failure becomes a lesson on how to break bad habits. Every great marriage requires hard work.