Last weekend, Brian and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. I can hardly believe it’s been that long since the day we said “I do.” We have come a long way since then and rarely have we sailed along without any trouble at all. Yet we’re still a couple, still enjoying each other’s company. I would still rather spend a weekend away with him than do anything else.
I am not any kind of expert; I am just a woman who’s learned along the way, (sometimes the hard way), so I thought I’d share with you:
Top Ten Tips for Staying Happily Married
1) Divorce is not an option and is never discussed as such.
2) Learn to forgive, and overlook your spouse’s faults. Standing at the altar, staring into my handsome, kind, soon-to-be husband’s eyes, it was hard for me to imagine I’d ever have to do so. But I have, many times, and he’s done the same for me. We are imperfect humans and will mess up often. God has forgiven me of so much more… I try to remember that when I’m tempted to hold a grudge. Forgiving doesn’t mean he wasn’t wrong; it just means I choose to let it go.
3) Get on the same page with your finances, and let that be the “stay-out-of debt” page. Nothing sparks an argument like too much month and not enough money!
4) Never say, “That’s not my job.” I got tired of nagging my husband to take out the trash, so I started doing it myself, and found I enjoy the little walk outside. Now I rarely ask him. I was in his car and put gas in it – and occasionally mow the lawn. He cooks often, and helps straighten up the house when we have company. I find that a gentle request goes a lot farther than whining about how much I have to do or the fact that “Nobody helps out around here.” And yes, I learned that one the hard way!
5) Learn to see the flip side of your spouse’s faults. Let me explain: Your spouse has a good quality to go with each fault. It is likely these good qualities were some of the things that attracted you to him in the first place. For instance, I love Brian’s laid-back temperament. It balances my more high-strung one perfectly. But sometimes he doesn’t fix things right away or contact one of his design clients whose payment is delinquent. I feel myself getting annoyed, until I remember this lack of aggression is what attracted me to him in the first place! I love my man’s temperament, and wouldn’t trade it. (And, if left alone, he eventually takes care of the problems!)
6) Date each other. Ok, I admit… we don’t do it every week. We live so far out from town, and often one of us is taking one of the girls somewhere, so in the evenings, the last thing we want to do is go out. However, we do date regularly, and by regularly I mean when we feel the need, which is about twice a month. We don’t spend a lot of money. We do spend time together, laughing, talking about our interests, and trying not to talk about the kids. We were a couple before they came along, and we will be one when they leave the nest.
7) Do not bring up things that bother or annoy you about his family. Even if he agrees with you, he will take it as a personal insult. Focus on what you like about your in-laws, and remember they are human, too.
8) Put each other before the children. I remember when I was little, I told my mother I didn’t like something she cooked. She said, “We’re having it because Daddy likes it.” I never forgot this early lesson that Daddy was the most important person in the house to her.
9) Laugh… at yourself, at your mistakes, at your trials. We all know the verse “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” (Prov. 17:22) I have found this to be true, over and over. In our family, humor helps us enjoy good times and feel better in bad times. Brian and I still laugh together at some of the ridiculous financial mistakes we’ve made. We don’t insult each other, but we do joke about most things. I’d rather laugh than hold onto regrets!
10) When your spouse is down, lift him up. Whether he’s struggling with a particular sin, discouraged, or just out of sorts, be there to encourage him and spend extra time praying for him. He needs you!