My husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary this past June. Over the years we have been witness to many of our friends' failed marriages, as well as to many unhappy marriages in which the couples stay together but seem to do nothing but fight. Current statistics tell us that 1 out of 2 marriages will end in divorce. You have a 50/50 chance of making it work. Below are some lessons that my husband and I have learned throughout our marriage that we'd like to share with others. I pray that they may help another couple improve their relationship.
(1) Know how to disagree - You don't have to fight with each other. You can disagree and get your point across without yelling or calling each other names. This only works when one person talks rationally and the other person listens intentionally. You are adults and you should handle your problems like mature adults. That means talk it out. Talk - not yell- being the key word. Figure out the problem, talk about it and then make whatever changes you need to in order to solve the problem.
(2) Forgive and Forget - Admit your mistakes and apologize when you're wrong. If you've been wronged, accept your partners apology. Don't keep a record of past wrongs to bring up in the midst of another argument.
(3) Don't act like their mother/father - No one likes to be nagged into doing something. No one likes to have to check in with someone every five minutes. Don't criticize their every move, a little praise goes a long way.
(4) Don't act like a child - Grow up and act like a mature adult. Don't pull childish stunts or act like this is a high-school relationship. This is real life. This is your marriage!
(5) Keep Secrets - Some things should remain between husband and wife. One of the best pieces of advice we received in our early marriage was to never complain to your parents about your spouse. We have seen this backfire many times and believe it's a solid piece of advice. If you need to talk about your relationship with someone other than your spouse, talk to a counselor or church pastor. Not only will they be unbiased and therefore able to give you worthwhile advice, it won't affect your relationship in a negative way in the future.
(6) Don't Keep Secrets - Never keep secrets from your spouse. All of my friends know when they ask me to keep a secret that it will include everyone except my husband. Since they know this up front, they can choose whether to tell me or not. This isn't to say that I go and tell my husband any and every little thing my friends tell me but it's the principle of the matter. If you've been keeping a secret from your spouse it's just like your parents told you when you were a child, if you tell the truth before you get caught the outcome will be a lot better for you.
(7) Never throw around the "D" word - You should never threaten a divorce or threaten to leave just because you're upset. If you are that upset, step away from each other until you can be calm and talk rationally.
(8) Neither of you are mind readers - Your partner cannot know what you are thinking or feeling all of the time. If you are hurt, sad, angry, annoyed, etc. don't just expect them to know, tell them and explain why. If you want them to do something, ask them. It really is that simple.
(9) Take time out to make out - When your children are young and/or you both are busy with work and other activities, it's easy to become less like husband and wife and more like roommates. Schedule regular times to go on dates with each other. If money is tight, have a date in! When the kids are in bed, turn off the TV and other electronics and reconnect with each other. Kiss each other goodbye in the mornings, hello in the afternoons and good night at bed. Send each other flirty texts during the day to remind them you're thinking of them. Hug each other, hold hands and embarrass your kids with some PDA lol.
(10) Remember the Golden Rule - Treat each other the way you want to be treated. Your spouse deserves no less than to be treated how you would treat your best friend. Before you say something hurtful, ask yourself if and how you would say that to your best friend. I can honestly say that my husband IS my best friend because that's how we have always treated each other.
Marriage is never easy and you have to work at it every day but it is worth it to be able to grow old with the one you love.