How do you design your dream marriage and create your best relationship? My friends Scott and Tanya Landis sought to answer this question in our recent conversation. They are a dynamic duo and marriage architects. Their story, in a nutshell, goes like this…
One day, these high school sweethearts decided that average was not good enough. After coaching hundreds of couples and settling into a good working relationship, the two decided they would either call their own marriage quits or find a way to truly thrive. Nothing painfully wrong caused them to come to this decision. The two had a great, transactional, working relationship. But both of them decided this was not good enough. After a period of self-examination, the couple decided to dive into the hard relational work. Today, they are glad they did!
Scott and Tawnya got intentional about designing their dream marriage. Now they help other couples create their very best relationship! During our Thriving at Home Summit, I had the privilege of interviewing this power couple, learning from their story, and picking their brain for new relationship insights.
How to Create Your Best Relationship
One of my favorite college professors often said, “The loneliest people in America are not single adults. Instead, they are the married couples who fall asleep back to back each night wondering, When is the pain going to end? ” After working as a marriage and family therapist for nearly a decade, I’m afraid he’s right.
Far too many couples find themselves stuck in a bland limbo, somewhere between saying “I do” on their wedding day and finding happily ever after. For many couples, an OK relationship is simply not good enough. Fortunately, there is hope. Couples don’t have to stay stuck when each individual is willing to do the work.
Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from my interview with Scott and Tawnya, the marriage architects!
Getting Intentional About Your Dream Bond
- The phrase marriage architects has intentionality behind it. Couples freely talk about designing their dream home, but how many couples put this type of intentionality, conversation, and effort into designing their dream bond?
- Designing your dream marriage involves more than having the right tools. It’s about using your relational tools purposefully. Building your dream marriage requires both strategy and passion!
- One of the first steps is to break through the shame of not being a perfect couple. Americans want to achieve and overcome hardship. But it’s also OK to admit our relationship needs help.
- This is especially important in today’s culture because social media can create additional pressure to “do it all.” It can also make it feel like we are the only ones not winning in relationships and life. The truth is that we don’t really know what is going on in other people’s heads, hearts, and lives. It’s important to not compare our worst relationship moments to other couples’ highlights.
Once a couple is ready to dive into designing their dream marriage, what’s next?
- First, if your spouse is not ready to dive into the work, don’t use this as an excuse. Sometimes one person starts. Then, their loved one sees the growth and becomes that active participant in designing that dream bond.
- Also, realize that a lot of effort will need to be placed on working on yourself. This involves focusing on what you can control—which is your attitude and your actions.
- Know that the top leaders and athletes in the world all have a coach. Often multiple coaches. So having a relationship coach to guide you on the journey just makes sense too!
- One of the most powerful steps is to take 100% responsibility for our own stuff and stop looking at each other. Scott says, “If you own how you got here, then you have the power to change it as an individual!” A mindset of ownership is powerful! (As a disclaimer, this does not apply to extreme and abusive circumstances. Of course, a spouse is never responsible for their partner’s feelings, actions, or abusive behaviors).
Designing Your Dream Marriage > Divorce and Moving On
- Scott and Tawnya have learned that designing your dream marriage is better than throwing in the towel and starting over. If we don’t work on ourselves, our problems will simply follow us into the next relationship. This is one reason why it’s best to do the work and intentionally create our best relationship with our spouse.
- Scott and Tawnya’s journey to designing their dream marriage started with an awareness that they were wearing masks and avoiding authenticity. This included avoiding authenticity with each other and with themself.
- The next step after awareness is accepting who we are and sharing some of this with our spouse. At the root of our human existence is a desire for acceptance.
- Getting our stuff into the light, having better conversations, and experiencing acceptances from one another can be powerful. Authenticity is the foundation for designing your dream bond.
Diving into Authenticity
- Designing your dream marriage with authenticity should be a process. Simply opening your chest cavity and exposing all your “junk” can feel overwhelming. It also may be too much for you and your loved one to bear.
- A second important piece is that people need time to process new information. We live in a microwave culture. Remember, food cooked in the oven just tastes better. The same rule applies to relationships. Change takes time. So as you become increasingly authentic, don’t expect things to get better or your partner to change right away. In other words, designing your dream marriage is an ongoing process and not a one-time event!
- We’re asking for the acceptance of our spouse. And we are practicing acceptance toward our loved one. Lowering our expectations for reciprocation can transform a relationship.
- Become a student of your loved one’s needs!
- Take the 90-day challenge to be vulnerable and meet your spouse’s needs. For couples on the brink of divorce, this challenge may or may not transform your partner. But if you do it wholeheartedly, it will transform you!
- Finally, make a mindset shift. Stop playing the game you can’t win. Start playing the game you can win. Instead of trying to please your spouse, focus on being the best person you can be. Your marriage is work working for!
Diving Deeper into Designing Your Dream Bond
I love Scott and Tawnya’s passion for helping couples improve their relationship by focusing on themselves. Jenny and I encourage couples to take 100 percent responsibility for the controllables. This is one of those foundational principles that have applications in nearly all areas of life.
For more great insights from the Thriving at Home Summit, be sure to check out the following posts:
- Everyone’s Got Bears: Taming anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
- I’m a Blended Family Dad: Here’s what all blended families should know.
- The Problem with Being Nice: Be kind. Be good. But please don’t be nice!
Continuing the Conversation
Jenny and I would love to dive deeper and continue the conversation in the comments below!
- What was your biggest takeaway from Scott and Tawnya’s insights?
- What will you do next to design your dream marriage?
- How, will you create your best relationships?
- What other thoughts or ideas would you add to what was shared?
Just add your thoughts to the comments below and know that we can’t wait to hear from you!