Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Marriage: The 10 Do's And Don'ts


They say life is short but marriage is long… not sure who said it but they must have spoken from personal experience. Whatever your views on marriage are… whether you believe it's a beautiful idyllic journey of love or merely a union just to be tolerated… the truth is… somewhere in between those two extreme outlooks lie people who want to be realistic… who realize the hard work but also fully embrace the joy to be had… that can see the blessings marriage brings along with the occasional pitfalls. They want tips, they want ideas, they want something they can learn from (or be reminded of) and then want to apply the information to their marital relationship.

So today I have compiled a list of marriage do's and don'ts for easy reference.

10 Do's:

1. Do State What You Need:
This may be harder for women. He's not a mind reader. This is essential to learn. If you find yourself having difficulty stating your needs ask yourself "What's holding me back? Am I scared? What am I afraid of?" Being assertive is a much needed life long skill combined with manners like saying "Thank you."

2. Do Compliment Your Spouse:
Remember why you married him (or her) in the first place. Think back to your dating days. Or recall a recent accomplishment he (or she) made. Your spouse will really appreciate you noticing.

3. Do Be Specific:
"I like it when you…" or "I always appreciate it when you… " etc. These positive statements help encourage your spouse to do more of what you love.

4. Do Show Affection:
Wives and husbands modeling healthy affection in a marriage benefit their kids. When Daddy dances with Mommy in the kitchen or on the deck the kids notice. When Mommy gives Daddy a hug when he walks in the door from working all day they notice. Likewise they notice crass-like interactions between you... which is not something for them to adopt later in life.

5. Do Pray Together:
Praying together anytime of day is essential to connecting together in your faith and strengthening it.

6. Do The Extra Mile:
Going the extra mile to look nice is simply being respectful of your spouse. Letting yourself go says "I don't care" about me or what you think.

7. Do Be A Safe Space:
Listen, listen and listen some more. When our spouse is talking and were angry we may go one of two routes:  'I'm going to talk LOUDER so you will hear me' mode… or the other… walking off and refusing to discuss the subject i.e.; stonewalling, giving the silent treatment. Neither is obviously effective. We are often so ready to open our mouth to reply were not really listening. One trick is to simply repeat what your spouse said back to them. Say "This is what I'm hearing is the issue… " and then state the issue… following with "Is that correct?" Get confirmation and then proceed.

8. Do Keep It Fresh:
Marriage can sometimes become monotonous, no doubt… when we begin going through the daily grind-like motions and all those responsibilities like kids, managing a home, work, car maintenance, bills, a mortgage, etc, it can all build up and like a vacummn suck any fun to be had out of the relationship. But keeping our marriage fresh although sometimes definitely difficult, will be worth it in the end. Book a hotel (whatever your budget is) for a weekend, try something new as a couple but also (this is so important) individually. When we stop changing and growing and are no longer experiencing that fear of "What if?" we become stagnant and it not only affects us but our partner too.

9. Do Give Space:
It's important for each of you to have some time to yourselves occasionally.

10. Do Spend Time Together: 
If your schedule is hectic it's vital to block in time for dates, for nights at home to relax together. Is taking a day off work occasionally doable? It's the little things that keep your connection close and fun.

10 DON'TS:

1. Don't Nag:
When we nag, critique, criticize, etc we drive our spouse away... the opposite of what we likely want to happen.

2. Don't Talk Bad About Your In-Laws:
Don't talk negatively about them to your spouse. Maybe your mother in-law is a total pain… I get it… "and my sister in-law too", you mutter… okay, I get it. But it does zero good to ahem, "gripe" about them to him. State calmly your issues regarding them to him briefly. Choose your battles wisely here. Then move on. You don't have to be best buddies with these people. You do have to be respectful, civil, etc. You don't have to be joined at the hip at every get together. Get some space… make alternative plans every so often… aren't you busy with a lunch date that day with your sister? Or your friend? Maybe your distant cousin? You get the idea. Strike a balance.

3. Don't Gossip:
Bad mouthing your spouse to your friends, your mother or your siblings is not good. What ends up happening is your friends, your mom and your siblings will not forget the jerky thing he just did as of late (because they just may have an ongoing log of all the jerky things he's ever done thanks to you) and will not be pleased when they see him next. It will be awkward. And you will find yourself trying to break the ice between them. Then there is the other extreme… acting like things are better than they really are. Because (and this is personal experience) then when you announce to your mother you're divorcing him and she later (during the divorce process) finds out how really bad it was because you had edited or downsized "horrific" behavior to just "jerky" she will be standing there shell shocked. There needs to be a medium here. If the marriage has escalated to abusive, you need help and should tell everything to someone you trust that will be supportive. If it's just a tough season, editing is expected so if someone voices concern for you as a couple you might say "Every couple has their seasons of struggle but we are working through it." Done. Move on.

4. Don't Keep Score:
When we keep a mental checklist of "You didn't do this or that…" it creates a recipe for disaster and resentment to build. Some days it's your turn, some days it's your spouse's. If it begins to feel like everyday is your spouse's day and he (or she) always "gets to choose" or "gets his way", then that goes back to communication issues or perhaps there is a power play going on. It might be time to seek some therapy.

5. No Deals In The Bedroom:
Lose the "You owe me because I did this…" mentality. Are we running a business or a marriage? If he watches a chick flick with you, no, you shouldn't be expected to turn tricks in the bedroom later. Either he wants to watch it or he doesn't. Period. This works both ways. It goes back to showing love without expectation. If you have to make any "deals" (this isn't sales) especially related to the bedroom there are some serious issues in the marriage and counseling is needed.

6. Don't Threaten:
If you are contemplating divorce don't say it. Just make your plans. Don't ever ever ever threaten with empty threats either. (Just. Don't. Go. There.) Fight fairly and constructively; meaning don't bring up past grievances, stick to the current topic at hand.

7. Don't Focus On His/Her Flaws:
When we focus on the other person's flaws we are not as aware of what we need to work on. Each of us is has plenty to keep ourselves busy when it comes to growing and becoming all God desires. 

8. Don't Cheat: 
Seems obvious enough but with sky high adultery statistics today loyalty has become nearly obsolete and yet highly valuable. 

9. Don't Subscribe To Idolatry: 
When God is first and your spouse is second, third, children... marriages are already on the right track. When we have a strong foundation in our faith and relationship with God we cultivate a strong family unit. 

10. Don't View Needing Help As Being Weak:
When we struggle in our marriage we don't have to view needing therapy or couples counseling with our Pastor as being a failure or weak. Instead we can look at it as a brainstorming of ideas to better what we already have… (it's better to be proactive… don't wait until it's so stinky that you're already thinking divorce). No one has a perfect marriage but likely there is always some room for improvement upon what's there. And that's a great plan to strive toward. 

© ~ 2014 



To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

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