Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work: Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Principle 7: Creating shared meaning


-one can have a happy marriage, but some people look for a spiritual connection – finding meaning in the togetherness beyond the mere joint tasks of family life. Symbols and rituals are helpful. There is a family “culture’ (which may change and the partners develop), which gives shared meaning to their sense of togetherness. There may be dreams that each partner has which cannot work well together with the other partner’s dreams. But the “shared meaning” couple looks beyond that: discuss convictions in a way which blends each of the partner’s sense of meaning. A discussion of core values can be used to further the couple’s shared meaning [perhaps use family legacies to prime such a discussion]. The shared meanings will strengthen the marital friendship [which actually the first three principles try to do]. Shared meaning questionnaire (p.246) – looks at the rituals of connection, roles, goals and symbols meant to stimulate thought about the couple’s shared meaning situation. Shared meaning takes years to build.

Family rituals

-not many families have family dinners and those who do, often use the television, thus no conversation could happen. Shared meaning could be created around dinner, but each family could develop their own ritual a “rituals” exercise (page 251) can help the couple work out rituals issues such as on how to eat dinner, holidays, keeping in touch with relatives, special events, rites of passage, lovemaking, community [i.e. friends, caring for others in the community], how to celebrate positive and negative events.

Your roles in life

-i.e. is there congruence between each partner’s role values and views? i.e. if both partners are geologists, but one identified more with the profession and the other firstly identified with her gender. Therefore values have to be discussed beyond superficiality of apparent congruency – in order to work out significant value difference s (i.e. around work, parenting, contact with in-laws, friends, community and the balancing of the aforementioned, etc…).


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