Good marriages are not accidental, they are made. Most of us, when we get married think we have found our soulmates, but soulmates are not to be found they are made.
I have been married for almost 30 years. When I got married I had no doubt that I had found my soulmate, but along the way I made many mistakes and learned some valuable lessons. If I were to counsel a young couple on how to have a good marriage these would be some of my tips. Please remember these are only my tips, so feel free to discard anything that you don’t agree with.
Tips for a good marriage:
- What is normal?
Sometimes one of the most disappointing aspects in our marriages is unhealthy expectations. We fall in love, we think we finally found the right person and we decide to get married. But after a while we begin to see our spouse’s flaws.
That’s when disappointment begins. We think to ourselves “I never knew he was like this” or “how come I did not notice these flaws before marriage”? As time goes on we see more and more flaws and over time we begin to wonder, did I get married with the right individual?
What we need to understand is this, this is normal! This eventually happens to most of us. But this does not mean that we ended up with the wrong person. Rather we need to realize that this is a normal course for most marriages.
There will be times in our marriages when we think I am sure I picked the wrong person. How did we end up with each other, we have nothing in common? I don’t enjoy being with my spouse anymore. There may even come a time that we may actually begin to hate them!
But all of this is normal!! We will go through these valleys but we eventually come out of them. However it is good for us to understand what normal is so when we do experience these things we won’t be surprised.
- Make your marriage a top priority in your life.
Friends come and go, children grow up and leave, your spouse is the person that will be with you to the end of your life. After the Lord your spouse should be your top priority. Make every effort to put your spouse first in your earthly relationships.
- Don’t make yourselves so busy that you don’t have time for each other. Don’t be pulled in so many directions.
Be sure to have enough time for each other. Don’t add so many things in your life that you don’t have any time for each other. Do things together, go for walks, exercise together, and make sure you go out at least once a month if financially possible. Spend time together and talk.
- Focus on what makes the other person happy and do those things.
Pay attention to what your spouse enjoys. Embrace those things and try to do them, even if you may not necessarily be the fan of those activities. If you notice your spouse would like certain food or treats, be sure to purchase those items as a way of showing him or her that you care about what they like.
Try to find creative ways to do the things that your spouse enjoys, surprise them with it. Over time this will show them that you value what they like and you do those things because you love them.
- Try to win the heart of your spouse by going the extra mile without complaining.
When we do things for each other even though it may not be our responsibility, our spouse will notice these things. Over time if we go the extra mile for them without complaining, we win over their hearts. They in turn will do things for us willingly. Sometimes we insist that they should pull their weight, they may cooperate but they in turn may not want to do anything that is not theirs.
Many times if we do things even if it is not ours to do, and if we do it without complaining then this will have an impact on the attitude of their hearts.
- Be mindful of your spouse’s needs and try to meet them.
Sometimes our spouses have certain needs that are very important to them. When we discover these needs, try to meet them as much as possible because it is something that is very important to them.
Maybe they have a certain way of doing something that is important to them, try to accommodate. Try to discern those needs and as much as possible do them.
- If you see something in your spouse that you may not like, mention it once or twice, after that if you see no change accept things for the way they are.
Sooner or later we will see habits, behaviors or tendencies in our spouses that we do not like. We should bring these things to their attention with the right attitude and at the right time. Mention that particular habit or behavior and how it makes you feel.
Try to offer an alternative and ask them if it is possible for them to do it this way and how we may have more success this way. Leave it with them, do not try to manipulate them into the way you want things to be.
Over the years most of us form habits and behaviors that we might not be able to easily change. If you see your spouse not responding, try to compensate or do those things yourself. If you are not able to do those things yourself, then except the fact that in these areas things are not going to be the way you want them.
An example of this may be in the area of being organized. You may be a person who wants things to be organized, but your spouse is not an organized person. You may bring it up once or twice, but if he or she is not responding, either try to organize things yourself or accept the fact that we may not be able to be an organized family.
Sometimes it is better to accept the short comings rather than insist on something that our spouse is not able to give.
- Try to resolve conflicts quickly without letting it linger on.
When a conflict arises try to discuss it, let your spouse know how you feel, listen to their side and then come to some resolution that you both can live with. Afterward try to act and behave as normal as possible. Don’t hold a grudge, don’t try to punish each other. Remember nothing is the end of the world, conflicts are inevitable, but how we deal with them determines their extent and severity.
- Never try to correct each other during an argument.
If you feel like that there needs to be some correction, never try to correct your spouse during the argument. During an argument we usually focus on how to answer rather than being open to correction. In an argument you want to present your case and listen to their case and come up with a solution that you both can accept.
If you feel like there needs to be a correction so things can be better wait until a day or two when you both are calm and then bring the subject up.
Do your best not to attack you spouse, simply bring the situation up and say “I have been thinking about what happened and I thought could things go better if we did…”.
The wisdom in doing it this way is that both you and your spouse are calm and not defensive. By bringing the subject up, we both can calmly look at the situation again and discuss how we may be able to do things in a different way.
- Remember to spend time with each other after the kids are born.
Do not neglect your relationship after you have kids. We may think we don’t have as much time for each other as in the past. Avoid the temptation of creating a marriage that is kid centered. If you want your kids to grow to appreciate their spouse they need your example. Remember more things are caught than taught. Make sure you create time to do the things you use to do within reason after having children.
- Don’t try to become like another family.
If you see a family that you admire, don’t try to become like them. Chances are you and your spouse may be different than them. When you try to copy them it would not bear good fruit. Try to look at the principal in their lives and implement that rather than try to become like them.