When was the last time that you discussed your priorities? Were they aligned? In this lesson, we talk about the importance of priorities in your life as well as why it's important to be aligned with the top five priorities in your marriage. Just a heads up, priorities are fluid and dynamic, so make sure you update them more than only once every decade!
How to define and align Priorities
What is a priority? The dictionary definition is “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” In a marriage, there are many priorities, both large and small, which take up our valuable time and attention. And while prioritization of specific areas of life seems to be justified, often a couple will find their critical focuses to be entirely out of alignment, causing hurt feelings, mismatched activities, and, of course, resentment.
The irony of any relationship is that in the early stage both people work extra hard to align priorities. You may not want to go out dancing, but your new date does, so you reprioritize to be a better date. Then again, another person may want to go to their favorite musical concert, but on that night you wanted to stay in to rest. Instead of resting, however, you "rally" and head out to the show. In each of these scenarios and many like it, the difference is each partner works doubly hard to re-prioritize themselves and their life to fit the other person's priorities. This dance of changing focus to impress and excite goes on for most of the early stages of a relationship and often into marriage. But over time, in later stages of a partnership, a more self-centered approach to priority takes hold, and instead of focusing on your partner, you are focused on your priorities alone.
Don’t get us wrong; we understand completely that couples feel justified in their list of priorities. We know all too well that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your way is the way everyone should take, but we are here to help you break out of this rut and become more aligned with each other. It is only after this vital re-alignment that you can both begin to build a stronger union together.
Before we get into the steps to re-align your priorities as a couple, let’s look at the list we will be using for our exercise.
List of typical priorities in a partnership:
You will notice that we have not defined each of these priorities. This lack of clarity is on purpose. It is our experience that words matter. More importantly, the clear way YOU define a word matters to the other person and vice versa. As an example, if you define Health as taking a walk now and then, but your spouse defines it as an intense workout five times a week, you will both prioritize Health on the list very differently. If on the other hand, you both define Health the same, as an intense five-day workout to build muscle and the ideal body, you will find a blissful experience in that area of focus. But to find actual synergy, both partners must be willing to define their specific definition of the words they use to describe each priority in their life. To openly and honestly express yourself in this way, without fear of judgment, is the path to alignment and a relationship on purpose.
Often people will tell us, “Yes, but changing a priority is difficult.” To which we will explain that we all change priorities each day based on new information. If you are heading to work in the morning and your GPS lets you know of a crash in your path, the GPS will then go to work to change your directions. The catalyst for the change of direction was new information—the crash. And the reward is arriving at work on time with less stress. Making a new direction the new priority is then a simple change of course, and you do this freely because you see the benefit of changing to a new path. In many ways throughout your day, week, and year, you will change direction countless times and for numerous reasons. What can we learn from this analogy as it pertains to your priorities in your love partnership? The core lesson is simply that ANYONE can change a priority if they are appropriately motivated with new information. This realization is the mission of ENARI and this lesson. We want you to now begin to understand each other’s priorities, clearly define each one, and then move to gaining a more aligned relationship, which is a beautiful destination.
Before you start REMEMBER ENARI
We often like to remind our members to review the key foundational elements of ENARI.
Your partnership, the work you are doing to improve it, and the way you approach each other should always be centered on the foundation of ENARI. In any of our exercises, it is critical you demonstrate a comprehensive kind-hearted approach with the utmost in respect. Often people find some of these topics to be sensitive and challenging to discuss. Be kind, be patient, and allow the best to come forward.