Keeping your union happy
A good marriage is never easy to maintain. There are many compromises involved. But as long as both parties continue to believe it’s all worth it, well then, it all is. That’s why I call these tips, “The Works” – they cover most of the common bases from which issues arise that all parties in a marriage can relate to. They are proven to work and have been time-tested by an endless variety of wedded couples. You could almost say it’s all common sense, but sometimes we just need things spelled out for us.
First and foremost, trust needs to be developed. It takes effort to make a marriage work. If you were a flirt before you were married, you simply can’t be now. Nor can you get too close to members of the opposite sex. If that’s a problem for you, you should not have agreed to marriage. If you resist these guidelines and justify such actions angrily, you are not being fair to your partner. If you start to take comfort in the belief there’s always someone waiting in the wings for you, you’ll become less likely willing to concentrate on working to improve the marriage, especially during the hard times.
You are always growing as a couple, learning new things. When you discover a threshold, respect it. If there is something your partner has expressed displeasure over hearing about, whether it is an ex of yours or a certain incident, respect that. If you’ve learned that your partner will get really cranky at certain times, respect that. Don’t push and certainly don’t instigate. The key to a good marriage is to find what creates harmony and sticking to it.
Share your recreational time and have fun together. Your spouse should be the one you want to enjoy things with. Go hiking, to the gym, to theme parks, even bar hopping, whatever helps to strengthen the bond between you. You could even read the same books or watch the same shows simultaneously so you’ll always have fun stuff to talk about. You need to enjoy each other’s company, I mean, that’s why you got married, right?
Respect is the next big thing that needs to be absolutely mutual. Listen as your significant other speaks. If you zone out, if you always zone out, why did you agree to marriage? By giving undivided attention you demonstrate to your mate that you value what they have to say. Of course, immediate circumstances don’t always make it possible. There’s a time for everything, and a serious heart to heart is not appropriate at all occasions (like at a ballgame). Don’t be hurt by perceived neglect that is actually just poor timing.
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean the pleasantries should end. Always be polite to one another. “Please” and “thank you” never go out of style – it’s just a classy way of handling yourself around others. Honor your mate with respect and appreciation. Always be courteous, you’d be surprised how small actions such as these serve to reduce marital friction.
On the other hand there are phrases that should be avoided – by all means. “I told you so” never goes over well, no matter what the circumstances. We all make mistakes, and having them rubbed in with constant snide reminders is the recipe for disharmony. Replace sarcasm and cynicism with support and encouragement and all will be well.
You’ve heard the term “don’t keep score”, it is particularly appropriate when applied to the dynamic of a relationship. Your wedding is not a contest. No relationship breaks down to a completely fifty-fifty arrangement, there’s no reason to expect a marriage to. Don’t carry a grudge because you feel you contribute more, it isn’t healthy. Each person brings certain things to a marriage; it’s these random and wonderful offerings and connections that make it all work.
A lot of petty differences and inconsequential issues will arise in the course of a marriage but as it has been put so aptly, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. There are going to be many more trivial problems popping up in the future that will test your good nature. Indulge the strength of your marriage when minor irritations threaten the peace. Are there things about your partner that annoy you? Imagine if you learned to be amused by them, instead.
What goes a longer way than a pleasant smile? We always want to feel our mate is happy to see us. If they greet us with a smile and a hug, it feels good. We want to do that for them in kind. We want to raise each other’s spirits. If we’re out on our own having a rough time of it, returning to our loved ones should be our salvation. Always greet your mate with a sincere smile.
Lastly, I want to address something that’s a bit tricky. You’re married, you’re in this together. Your days of insecurity about your relationship should be over. So don’t go through your partner’s things. Don’t check her purse/don’t search his phone. It doesn’t matter if it’s friendly curiosity or if you just want to “check up” on them. It’s still a violation of privacy and likely to offend. Don’t be suspicious, if you are – for whatever reason – ask them outright. If they seem to behaving secretively, that is unacceptable as well. You must each be honest. You’re married, you’re a team. You’re in this together. It’s the two of you against the world. You took the vows – honor them!