How to Find Your Fairy Tale by Living Out Your Commitments
We've been talking a lot about our differences lately. Differences are often what make us a great team, but they can also drive a wedge between us.
And when that wedge creates too much conflict or isolation we face an unnoticed threat to our relationship — a major danger zone for our family.
It's the threat of eroding commitments.
Whether you've officially 'tied the knot' or simply signed a lease together — you have made a commitment. You're building a relationship together and you're influencing each other's kids.
Over time, when things don't go the way you thought they should — and you aren't having as much fun as you first anticipated — you're in that danger zone. Your focus is likely on your frustrations and the commitments you made begin to slip from your mind.
Silly Parents — Fairy Tales Are For Kids
I recall the old Trix commercials: "Silly rabbit — Trix are for kids!" If you're too young to remember those, you can find them on YouTube.
As a kid, I watched that silly rabbit constantly chase a dream he could never reach. He always ended up disappointed. Way too often, we're like that rabbit.
We're chasing a dream — a fairy tale — that we can never reach. And I don't care if you're a girl or a guy…we all want the fairy tale! We all want that "happily ever after" from the stories, books and movies that have been ingrained in us for decades.
But alas, fairy tales are for kids. Aren't I just a ray of sunshine today?! :-)
So, here's the good news. Even though we don't get to live a fairytale life, you and every other step-couple can experience moments of your own "fairy tale" by avoiding that danger zone of eroding commitments.
5 Ways to Stick to Your Commitments
1. Remind yourself of the commitments you've made
We all need reminders. As the months and years pass, we can't possibly remember every detail of the commitments we've made. We might remember the general idea, but the details can get a little fuzzy.
Kim and have the vows we spoke to each other in a scrapbook that we look through every year on our anniversary. We read the words we spoke almost two decades ago and we remember our commitments.
If you're in a tough season right now, you may need to print out your vows and keep them up on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car. Let the reminder be a motivator to keep moving forward.
Or maybe you haven't spoken actual vows yet. It might be time for you to consider the unspoken commitments you've made. Write them down and keep focused.
2. Live your commitment — today
When your relationship is struggling and your commitments are eroding, everything seems bigger than it really is. You blow things out of proportion, you project things onto your partner and you wonder how you'll ever survive for the long haul.
The trick to turning mountains back into molehills is to think small. Quit worrying about how the next decade is going to turn out and start focusing on today.
If you're just identifying those unspoken commitments, great! Now ask yourself how you're going to live that commitment today. Don't over focus on tomorrow, just choose how you'll live on this day.
And if you're reading those old vows, ask yourself how you can express them today. A small gift, some heartfelt words or a little quality time might be all you need to do to live your commitment — today.
3. Remember, it's a Season
Think back over the time you've been together. Chances are you've already experienced lots of seasons.
Relational storms give way to a season of fun and enjoyment. Not every week, month or year passes in exactly the same way as the previous ones. We all go through different seasons.
Staying 'committed to your commitments' gives you a foundation to weather all the seasons that come your way. Seasons come and go based on circumstances and emotions. But our commitments form the bedrock to build a home on. And at the same time they transcend our circumstances to keep us focused on something beyond our current season.
If you're in a tough season, stand on the foundation of your commitments and then remember the old saying "…this too shall pass".
4. Focus on your own behavior
Countless times in our marriage, I've discovered THE answer to solve all our problems. I could name the exact thing Kim needed to change so that we could live our own 'fairy tale'!
Okay…so I'm not so bright sometimes.
This can be a big roadblock for me. That constant over-focus on what Kim needs to change while avoiding the reality of my own poor behavior. Eugene Peterson says it this way, "It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own."
If you really want to experience moments of your fairytale, then you must stay focused on how YOU are living out your commitments. I'm challenging you this week — every day — choose to take your focus off your partner's behavior and only focus on your own.
If you're in the heat of battle, focus only on how you're responding. If you're in a busy season and feeling exhausted, focus only on how you're reserving at least a little energy for your partner. If things are going smoothly right now, focus only on how you're going give a little more to make your good season great!
You can't change your partner, you can only change you. And when you make positive changes that are rooted in your commitments you might be surprised how that brings a bit more of your fairy tale to life.
5. Leave a Legacy
There's more at stake here than your fairytale relationship. Step-couples start out with kids already in the picture. That means from day one you are influencing your partner's children and/or they are influencing yours.
That means you're going to leave a legacy — and you need to choose what kind of legacy you'll leave.
When you're focused on your commitments, successfully navigating the challenging seasons and accountable for your own behavior — you're leaving a positive legacy that will benefit your kids and step-kids.
All the research shows that a positive, healthy stepfamily experience can actually undo many of the negative effects kids experience through separation or divorce. You have the power to change their future and the future of your grandkids as you stay 'committed to your commitments'.
Now that's a legacy to be proud of — and fairytale worth fighting for.
Fading Commitments or Fairytale Moments?
It's often our differences that cause our commitments to slowly fade as the years roll on. As commitments fade, so do our 'fairytale futures'. You may not get the 'happily ever after' you were hoping for, but you CAN experience fairytale moments.
Kim and I have had to give up some high expectations in our journey. But the more we focused on these 5 practical ways of sticking to our commitments the more fairytale moments we get to experience.
You can too!
QUESTION: Which of these 5 things do you need to focus on today to move one step closer your fairytale moment? Leave a comment below…