Build your dream marriage part 4: Be willing to grow into more of who you really are

A man and woman sitting on top of a bench.

Marriage is the best place for you to grow in ways you never would otherwise. It’s where you can, not only discover, but to also recover those lost parts of yourself that were never developed growing up.

And building your dream marriage depends on this kind of growth.

‘Chuck, I know I need to grow and change, but it feels like my partner wants me be someone that I’m not.’


Your partner’s deep desire is not really for you to become someone you’re not. It’s for you to become more of who you are!

And, as you grow to into more of your authentic self, it will bring increasing measures of healing to your partner in a way that nothing else can.

Building your dream marriage requires growing and recovering parts of yourself that are lost and buried in your unconscious.

How did parts of me get lost?

As you grew up, certain things may have been taboo, or not talked about, or not allowed. Maybe comparisons were made between you and your siblings or peers. Or perhaps society may have suppressed your potential because of the color of your skin or your gender.

These are the kinds of things that can work to repress our thinking, feelings, senses, or actions. When that happens our growth can be cut off.

Maybe you grew up in a home that frowned upon expressing anger. From the time you were an infant, the message was instilled, ‘If I’m angry, mom won’t be happy and she’ll leave me.’

Or perhaps you grew up with the unspoken message that sex is bad or shameful. You were scolded for touching yourself in certain places, and sex was never talked about. When you grew up and began to have sexual impulses, it was scary and you felt shame.

For some reason my grandmother grew up believing that she couldn’t do stuff. So she never learned to swim or drive. I often wonder what messages she received growing up that repressed her desire to gain those and other skills.

Our growth is cut off when we’re not allowed to express our full aliveness in ‘forbidden areas’, or in areas where we’re told we are not capable or good enough.

Whenever a child is given the choice between expressing full aliveness, and connecting with a parent, the child will sacrifice the growth that comes through expressing that aliveness. This happens when a child fears losing connection with the parent.

This is what results in adaptations that block development in those areas of thinking, feeling, sensing and doing.

‘Well, if part of me is ‘lost’, as you say, or buried in my unconscious, how do I find it?’

To find out where you need to grow, simply look for what your partner needs most that you’re least able to give.

What?!! That’s right!

What your partner needs most points to where you need to grow most.

This is one of the wonders of the marriage relationship.

The drive to grow these lost parts of yourself is one of the unconscious reasons you chose the partner you did!

We tend to choose a partner who ‘has what I don’t’.

If you’re sexually repressed you may be drawn to someone who is free in that area.

But after you’re married you discover that it’s actually not being with a partner who is sexually free that makes you whole. What’s really happening is that your partner’s freedom is calling you to reclaim that freedom that you never developed.

Make sense?

Growing into more of who you really are happens in one or more of these areas:


…unlocking all those suppressed intellectual powers that you actually have, but never developed, because of messages you received growing up that you were slow or dumb.

Yolanda gives her husband Chris the ‘still face‘ every time he comes home sharing an intellectual breakthrough he had in his work as a design engineer.  Can you guess what Chris needs most from her?

He needs her to celebrate with him and experience with him the joy of his accomplishments…something his dad never did.

Yet, this is the thing Yolanda is least able to do, because Chris’ accomplishments make her feel dumb, just like she felt growing up with three siblings who were ‘brainiacs’.

Building a dream marriage requires that Yolanda grow and unleash her own intellectual powers that are there but never developed. Then, instead of being threatened by Chris’s intellectual accomplishments, she can celebrate them.

When Yolanda grows in this way, it brings healing to Chris.


…learning to be in touch with your feelings and share them freely with your partner.

Gary has trouble sharing his feelings with his wife, Laura. Can you guess what Laura needs most from him?

More than anything Laura needs Gary to be present emotionally for her when she’s angry – one thing Gary is least able to do.

Building a dream marriage requires that Gary stretch and grow in his ability to be aware of what he feels, and to be brave enough to share his feelings in a way he never did growing up.

It’s a scary thing, but when Gary grows in this way, it brings healing to Laura.

It’s amazing how your partner’s need for healing becomes a blueprint for your own growth!

It also works the other way around.

Laura has trouble regulating her anger. Can you guess what Gary needs most from her?

More than anything Gary needs Laura to control her emotions when she’s angry so he can feel safe to be present with her – the one thing she’s least able to do.

Building a dream marriage requires that Laura grow in her ability to regulate her emotions and not overreact in anger toward Gary.

When Laura grows in this way, it brings healing to Gary.


…being in touch with the sensations in your body.

Jim has trouble responding sexually to his partner, Martha. Can you guess what Martha needs most from him?

More than anything Martha needs Jim to express his love physically – the one thing Jim can’t do.

Building a dream marriage requires that Jim overcome his inhibitions and develop a mutually satisfying sex life with Martha.

When Jim grows in this way, it brings healing to Martha.


…courageously stepping out of your comfort zone, and doing what you’ve never done.

Wesley longed for his wife, Kathy to mountain bike with him. Growing up, Kathy was never allowed to do anything remotely dangerous, so for her, this was completely out of the question.

If Kathy took some courageous steps to overcome her fear of adventure by developing new skills, this could be a great step toward building her dream marriage with Wesley.

Being willing to grow into more of who you really are is a win-win proposition.

Not only does your partner find the love that heals, you will feel more fully alive because of new skills you are integrating into your life!

Here’s to growing into more of who we really are…for our partner, and for ourselves!

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    Author: Chuck Starnes

    Chuck Starnes is a relationship coach who is passionate about helping couples find the safety, connection, passion and full-aliveness they are looking for together. He also helps organizations become more productive by improving relationship and communication skills.

    4 thoughts on “Build your dream marriage part 4: Be willing to grow into more of who you really are”

    1. Wow, very cool stuff, definitely win-win. I’ve never heard it explained quite like this before, and this was very helpful! Differences and challenge in marriage are an invitation and opportunity to heal in the ways we need to, which will heal our partner as well – it will benefit us, our partner, and the marriage! win-win-win!!!

      I’ve been listening to a free audiobook on YouTube by Carol Dweck on her famous life’s work with Mindsets – Fixed mindset vs. Growth mindset. People with the growth mindset have a great attitude towards failure and challenge, that it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and dig-in more. Whereas people with a fixed mindset see failure and challenge as proof that they’re not good enough, and try to avoid it or get away from it at all costs. Fortunately, people who identify more with the fixed mindset CAN change to having more of a growth mindset. That’s what I’m working on now, and that’s kinda exactly what you’re asking your readers to do through the education you’re giving them in this blog post.

      Thanks again!

      1. Thank you Jen! That’s a very helpful insight and hopeful that even if I have a fixed mindset I can change! Our brains are plastic after all and no matter how ingrained I’ve become my mind can still be renewed and transformed! Thanks for sharing.

    2. Also Chuck, as a parent of two youngsters, reading this post kind of makes me freak out that I might not be allowing to have them full aliveness. I mean, they do have behaviors that I am upset by. I Never threaten to leave them and I frequently tell them that I will always love them no matter what they do, but some of their behavior (tantrums, yelling, hitting each other, etc) does make me angry. and I would never want to give them the message that if they act like that again I will be unhappy with a who they are so they need to repress themselves. But maybe I am giving them that message…and when they grow up they’ll need to read all of your blog post! I’m curious if there are resources for parents in this field of thought?

      1. Our children have the fear of losing connection with us without our ever threatening to leave them. No parenting is perfect but there is “good enough” parenting that can give your children the security then need that they can always find connection with you as the grow up. This is one of the best preparations we can give them for their relationships in adulthood. Keep at it Jen, you’ll get there! BTW I corrected your typo “tantrum”.

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