The Third Force

My marriage needs a vacation.

Ok, I know I’m over the top with my vacation needs, but hear me out how this little phrase developed.

This past weekend was our church’s semi annual conference. I love to sit and listen to so many great talks and words of wisdom. Don’t worry, even if you are not my religion – or any religion, you can gain a lot from conference. It’s a cheaper form of a TED conference:) (and better:)

Anyhow, there was an amazing talk about marriage (by Elder Whitney Clayton). My ears perk up whenever they talk about marriage in particular. Given this is both our second marriages, Rob and I  both feel this heightened awareness of how quickly things can go wrong, and how seriously you need to focus on your marriage to have a good one.

I listened to this talk, nodding my head in agreement to pretty much everything that he said.

All the kids weren’t with us to watch conference (we’ll be watching bits and pieces for family night over the next few months), but we were sharing with them items about the talk a a few days later.

What’s that you say? Sharing things about marriage with our 7-14 year old kids? Yup. Always. How else are they going to learn? They need some good examples, and they need some good discussions.

We talked about what struck us (Rob and me) the most about the message we head. Rob mentioned how marriage has to be the highest priority, the most valuable “possession” to each person. He talked about how even when he travels on business, his marriage comes with him. (How sweet is that? Don’t worry, I know a part of him is relieved to have a break from my constant chatter!) He told the kids that even when he is away, he is thinking about me (and them too  – but we’re talking about marriage here), makes sure to text me during the day, calls me before bed and in the morning. He does not “take a break” from our marriage when he travels for business or any other reason.

THAT reminded me of a fantastic excerpt from a great book that I talked about back here. I loved this part so much. In the book 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch, she talks about marriage: (I’m picking and choosing certain phrases, but it is all her stuff):

“… they made their relationship bigger than the both of them. And that’s how love looks in the most successful relationships, doesn’t it? It looks as if both partners love each other as individuals – but they love their love even more. They exalt it. They celebrate it. They talk about it as if it is the third force in the room, created by their merged commitment. They revere it and routinely and willingly make sacrifices for it.

She says… the “Third Force” theory comes from the book : “The Good Marriage” by Dr. Judith S. Wallerstein, who studies marriage and the results of one study  showed that  in virtually every successful marriage, the partners treated their union like a precious, separate entity deserving respect and nurture. In good marriages, the authors concluded, both partners treasure their collective identity more than their individuality”.

Good stuff.

Which is why I proceeded to tell the kids “that’s why every marriage needs a vacation”! It does! An extended, uninterrupted time together. The alone time as a couple is paramount to the happiness of the WHOLE family.

Although I do think every couple needs to get away ALONE together (regardless of the ages of your kids – trust me, they benefit from you being away just as much), you need to build in that same alone time on a daily basis. (At least weekly if you can’t find daily.)

There are ways for alone time if you make it a priority. That’s the key. It needs to be the biggest, most precious priority you both have. The third force. Then you’ll find ways to hug and kiss every day, text kind words, go to bed at the same time, share a few minutes of downtime before bed, meet each other for lunch, have a date night, cuddle on the couch, share a special look or glance across the table, dance while cleaning the dishes, go for a walk or run, shower together, leave each other notes …. Everyday things can be turned into precious alone time together. You need to take care of that third force  – always.

So, our marriage really DOES need a vacation…don’t worry…I’ve got one planned.


The Third Force — 4 Comments

  1. love this post! and totally agree..marriage is a force of it’s own. It should be our primary concern on many levels. For me I refer to it as our foundation of our family a
    and we also talk about it often with kids.
    I know that when there are rougher points..just paying close attention makes such a difference.

    Will watch his talk about marriage!

  2. This entire post is full of so much great advice and inspiration for marriage. I was just talking to a friend today about how/why marriages begin to slip and how to try to get them back on track – but if you treat the marriage like the third force, you never need to get a marriage “back on track.” I hope you have a great marriage vacation!

  3. #1 – yes, yes, YES! My husband & I cling to this idea. I honestly don’t know how our marriage would have survived the past few years if we didn’t take a marriage vacation once in a while.

    #2 – did a double take when you mentioned the speaker at the conference, as we also have an elder in our church named Whitney Clayton (insert Twilight Zone theme song), LOL.

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