Let’s put our hands up in the air for a growth mindset! Hooray!! Clap/clap/clap. Oh? Don’t know what we’re cheering for? 😉 Growth mindset is a term first coined by Carol Dweck in her groundbreaking book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, published in 2007. She describes growth mindset as the belief that abilities can be developed. This is compared to a fixed mindset, where one may believe that abilities are fixed and can’t be altered. So, if we take marriage and layer it with the concept of a growth mindset, it’s the belief that the ability to have a great marriage is something that can be developed.
I remember having a conversation with a friend several years ago; she casually mentioned the marriage of some mutual friends. She started by expressing admiration for them, but then got in dangerous territory when she seemed to put their marriage on a pedestal by claiming they had something special and her marriage would never be like that. This is the perfect example of a fixed mindset. She couldn’t, or didn’t want to see the possibility, that her marriage could be amazing, too. She thought it was fixed, or destined, to be subpar forever.
I walked away concerned. Her attitude didn’t sit right with me.
I’ve since learned so much and can see with more clarity why her comment rankled me.
Creating a marriage with a growth mindset is possible and perhaps the best news of all: you don’t even need to get your spouse on board! You don’t have to wait for him/her to do anything in order to feel a certain way about your marriage, yourself, or your future.
In no particular order, here are 3 steps to create a marriage with a growth mindset. Each one of these is something you can manage and do on your own!
#1. Be aware of where your mind is currently & what result it’s creating for you. For instance, if you constantly think “marriage is hard,” pay attention to how that is affecting how you show up in your marriage. I’m not saying you have to move away from this thought, or think differently, but, taking a step to view things with a broader & neutral perspective, as well as being brutally honest with yourself, will empower you to see what you are currently creating. If you’re okay with it, no worries! If you don’t like it, however, there are ways to make adjustments. Here a few activities to work through:
Evolve through ladder thoughts–this is where you change your view one tiny adjustment at a time. This is how it might look, but keep in mind you won’t move from the first thought to the last one overnight. It could take you weeks and weeks (or even months) to fully move through this progression.
- Marriage is hard and that’s ok.
- For some people marriage is easy.
- I’m open to the idea that marriage could be easy.
- There’s no downside to believing marriage could be easy.
- Sometimes marriage is easy for me.
- Marriage is easy and fun.
Journal & discover: What benefit am I receiving by holding on to the thought ‘marriage is hard’? Write out all your thoughts and don’t judge yourself for any of them. This is purely an exercise in exploration and awareness.
Similarly, you can ask yourself, or also journal: What if marriage is hard? Why is that a problem?
#2. Be aware of the manual. So many of us walk around with a manual — in other words a guide of expectations of how others should behave so that we can feel good. The trouble is the manual is usually invisible to others and never spoken of. We hold our emotional life hostage & the payment we expect in return is for others to behave a certain way! It seems insane when I state it so starkly like this, but it’s happening all the time. In my manual, when I still prescribed to one, I believed a husband should tell his wife often that she is good, amazing, and beautiful. When this didn’t happen in my marriage, I made it mean he didn’t love me. Further than that, I sometimes even made it mean that we weren’t meant for each other. When I had these thoughts, I felt disappointment and resentment in our relationship. I’m sure you can guess, this didn’t create a lot of closeness or connection. The craziest part of it was that I was fully expecting to feel better when my husband changed–aka, follow the manual! This hostage situation was not working out for anyone. When I liberated my emotional life by letting go of these expectations, and instead made a conscious choice to love my husband just as he was, with or without the compliments, massive growth happened in our marriage. This is where true, authentic relationships really thrive. It’s so much easier to create growth in a marriage when you love the person for exactly who they are & not hang your emotional well being on what they do or don’t do.
#3. Be aware of YOU. This can mean lots of things, but what I want to emphasize here is to be aware of who you are and who you want to be in the relationship. Do you want to be a happy wife/husband, that gets frustrated once in awhile? Do you want to be content with life, but discouraged from time to time? You see, too often I see it the opposite, where a client I’m working with is discouraged most of the time, or frustrated way too often. If you fall in this category, ask yourself the following questions: Are you currently taking your happiness and well being seriously? Does your self care need to go up a notch? Do you have compassion for yourself when you mess up or make a mistake? Is perfectionism becoming a wedge in your marriage? As a wise person once said, “personal development is sexy!” I agree 100%. There’s nothing quite like a confident, goal centered person to up the hubba-hubba factor in a marriage. So, yes, be aware of YOU. Who do you want to be? Are you committed to the habits that will help you be this be person on a consistent basis?
Creating a marriage with a growth mindset is totally doable. A thriving marriage, where two people ‘have something special’ is most likely created when growth is the desired outcome, both as individuals and as a couple. You’ve got this! Be aware of where your mind is, the manual, and and of you. That all can be managed!
If you’re ready to take this to the next level, and apply what you’ve read here, please book through this LINK. I’m a certified life coach and help others create authentic, meaningful relationships. I also love the color yellow, hot tubs, and freshly washed linens! 🙂 Do we have anything in common?
The first 30 minute session is free.