Hubby and I are certainly no experts but we’ve been married for almost 13 years and have faced some crazy hurdles along the way. We still love and like each other which I think is quite special so I thought I’d share my thoughts on what has helped us along the way!
DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY
This seems like such an easy thing, but the value of sticking to this rule is immeasurable. If you’ve broken this rule once, it becomes so easy to run away the next time you have a disagreement. If you both agree to never go to bed mad, you’ll find a way to work out your differences. If you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll realize that the reconciliation comes quicker and easier — sleeping is much more preferable then being angry all night!
BE RIGHT OR BE HAPPY
There’s no hidden meaning here, folks. It’s just what it says. You can either be right and fight until you get what you want. Or you can be happy. You decide.
LEARN TO LAUGH
Life is full of surprises mysteries and obstacles. It’s easy to get negative about your troubles and bring not only yourself down, but your partner as well. Learn to laugh with your partner — about the simple things and even the not so simple things. Laughter really is the best medicine.
MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
Over the years I’ve found this to be easier at times than others. With kids, work, and all the other household duties that come with being a wife and for many, a mother, your relationship with your partner is usually way down on the list. Probably around the place where you yourself rate on your to-do list. This simply isn’t good enough. If you don’t make your relationship a priority, nobody else will either. As I joked with my husband the other day, a marriage/relationship isn’t just a plant that needs to be nurtured, it’s a bloody lawn that must be fertilized, and cut, and weeded. And if you don’t keep up with the maintenance you’ll have a yard full of dandelions that you can never get rid of!
DON’T TAKE EACH OTHER FOR GRANTED
Often times I’ve caught myself giving others — strangers even, a courtesy that I don’t extend to my own partner. If you’re having a bad day and restrain yourself from screaming at the cashier ringing up your groceries, you can certainly extend that same courtesy to your loved one. Just because they’re there and “always will be” doesn’t mean you can use them as you see fit.
The other day my husband explained to me that he was working very hard to rebuild me a vehicle that he thought I would enjoy. I thanked him for his effort but explained to him that I don’t value this particular material thing as much as I value his time and attention. I would much rather have a small token of his affection (a note, a surprise date, a book) then the countless hours he’s spending to fix this car for me. The things that come easy to you may be the way you choose to love your partner, but ask yourself what your spouse really values. If you put in the effort to give them what they want and not what you find easiest to give, you’ll have done your job.
There’s no shame in asking for help. Every relationship needs an objective opinion here and there. Waiting till your relationship is at rock bottom is probably not the time to ask (although it’s never too late to try!). You don’t even need to be having “problems” to go see someone who specializes in relationships. We certainly haven’t always “needed” counselling according to what society and the media makes us think is the norm, but it’s always helped. Don’t wait until it’s your last option. You may not want to work it out with your significant other by that time!
LEARN TO COMMUNICATE
It always surprises me how difficult this really is. By nature I am a talker. I love to talk. I can talk till the cows come home, but sometimes I don’t communicate with my spouse very well. Emotions, lack of time and history get in the way. There are times when I can’t say what I really mean or I can’t say it in a way that is not angry, resentful, rude, insert your choice of ‘not so good quality’ here. Despite this challenge, I realize the importance of communication. Wouldn’t you say that if you could talk, and I mean really talk to each other — tell each other how you really feel, what makes you happy, what makes you sad — that you would be able to solve any problem that came your way?
To help with the communicating and as a result probably some of the other points, I made this printable poster you can keep on your fridge or whereever else you’ll see it often.
(click on the image to see the full size)
Are you in a marriage or long term relationship? What makes yours work? What skills, tools, resources have you used to make it last? Please share your thoughts with me! I’d love to know how I can continue to make my relationship better!