Sharpen ‘the saw’ of a good marriage

As we begin the New Year, I want to ask you two questions: How healthy are you? How healthy is your marriage?

Good physical health requires effort. Eating properly, getting enough rest, getting enough exercise, and practicing good hygiene are things to maintain healthy bodies. Regular doctor and dental checkups are also important.

In the Eight Habits of a Successful Marriage, Dr. John M.R. Covey teaches the importance of not just taking care of your body, but taking care of your whole person. In Habit Seven, “Sharpen the Saw”, Covey says you sharpen the whole person – your body, your heart, your mind, and your spirit. He says that we must learn to think of ourselves as having those four parts. It is not enough to just take care of your body. You must also take time to care for your heart, your mind, and your spirit. Failure to take care of ourselves in any one of these areas means we are neglecting the whole person.

Dr.Covey states that it is important to assess how well we “sharpen the saw”. To measure how well we are taking care of our bodies, he suggests asking questions such as: Do I eat food that is good for me? Do I stay away from junk food? Do I get enough sleep? For the heart, we should consider questions such as: Do I laugh out loud at least once a day? Do I tell people how much they mean to me? Do I write or call the people that I love? To keep the mind healthy, ask questions such as: Do I read good books, magazines or listen to the news on a regular basis? Do I play or listen to good music? We may assess how well we are taking care of our spirit with questions such as: Do I pray, meditate, or contemplate daily? Do I read poetry, scriptures, or other inspiring books? Do I volunteer my time to serve others?

Once you have completed your assessment, list some things that you are doing for your body, heart, mind, and spirit. Next, identify and list some things that you should stop doing to your body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Dr. Covey explains to improve the health of your marriage or relationship you must begin to understand and increase intimacy. Of course intimacy means different things to different people. Many people tend to think intimacy is all about sex; however sex is just one part of intimacy. There are three other parts of intimacy that are just as important. To keep your marriage sharp, you need to be intimate in all four parts: body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Dr. Covey explains that the four parts of intimacy are 1) to live – take care of each other’s physical needs; 2) to love – meet each other’s emotional needs; 3) to learn – feed each other’s mental needs; and 4) to leave a legacy – recognize and value each other’s spiritual needs. We experience intimacy in our living (body) by activities such as exercising together, sharing physical touch, holding hands often, and working and playing together. To increase or experience intimacy in our loving (heart), consider loving and affirming one another, laughing, and relaxing together, and practicing unconditional love. Couples wanting to experience greater intimacy in their learning (mind) can do so by learning new things together, sharing and discussing ideas, studying together, and developing talents as a couple. Increasing our spiritual intimacy might involve activities such as renewing commitments, reviewing and clarifying goals, and praying, meditating, and contemplating together. Reading inspirational or sacred literature together is another way to increase spiritual intimacy.

The health of your marriage requires that you assess the level of your intimacy. The intimacy level is an indicator of the health of a marriage. We can do that by asking simple yes or no question such as: Do you hold hands often? Do you enjoy different kinds of physical touch on a regular basic? Do you act selflessly toward one another? Do you have heart-to-heart talks? Do you support and believe in your spouse? Dou you value the exchange of ideas with your spouse? Do you support one another’s individuality? Do you pray, meditate, or contemplate together? Do you set goals together? Do you encourage your spouse to meet his or her personal goals?

Remember “sharpening the saw” means you must take care of yourself so that you can take care of your marriage.

To learn more about the Eight Habits of a Successful Marriage/ Relationship contact Ethen Gillespie at the Building Strong Families office at 662-769-1723.