Anyone that’s been married for more than a year knows that having a happy marriage can be challenging. Two people merge their lives together to find that there are areas they simply don’t agree. These fundamental issues drive us to fight and make regrettable choices. It took my wife and I many years to develop the kind of marriage that we are proud of. It wasn’t always easy and there are days when we feel like were back at square one.
There’s a part of me that feels somewhat hypocritical writing these words. Its partly because I don’t believe I’ve mastered the art, or achieved some deep understanding of men and women. I’ve learned a few basics that I’d like to share.
1. Listen to each other
Listening is a skill that is hard for some of us to learn. You see, our brains jump ahead thinking we can save time by moving someone along to the result we want or the one we think the other person wants. Listening is something that not only helps you understand your spouse’s point of view or instructions, it also allows your spouse to be “heard”.
Validation goes a long way in a happy marriage. Arguments become discussions when we just listen with an intent to understand rather than to prove our point. Each point of view is valid to the person who possesses it. Greater understanding will either lead to a respect for the other persons view or perhaps you’ll decide your viewpoint needs to change. Neither would have happened if you didn’t understand the opposing point of view.
This goes a long way towards being on the same page in almost every area of your marriage.
2. Share in the responsibilities
There’s nothing more discouraging than feeling like you’re all alone to provide for your family’s needs. There’s many reasons that we sink into our routines and only do the things we know were good at, or things we like to do. Switching it up and taking ownership of an area you don’t normally care for, can go a long way to showing your spouse that they are valued and you’re working together as a team.
3. Encourage one another
If you cant remember the last time you encouraged your spouse, now’s the time to do it. They might not want you to say anything or make a “big deal” about something they did that you truly appreciate, but the opposite is true as well. If you don’t say anything, then a person can feel unappreciated. So go ahead and encourage your spouse as often as you can.
I would also add that you shouldn’t beat yourself up about not encouraging your spouse. Today is a new day, so is tomorrow. Your spouse wants to hear your encouragement regardless of how long it took to get there. If you’re thinking about it, do it.
Something else that might help you is setting reminders on your smart phone to send an encouragement to your spouse. Then when you see it, go ahead and encourage right then and there. You can also stagger the reminders so you’re not reminding on the same day/time. Just a thought. 😉
4. Work out the hard stuff
There’s no way to say this lightly. You will run into problems in your marriage. You won’t always have a happy marriage. There will be days when you get on each others last nerve. When that happens, take a step back, own your part of the issue and make a conscious effort to improve the area that is frustrating your marriage. If you keep circling the same mountain, get some professional help to get you both over whatever you’re under.
Resist the urge to throw in the towel and call it quits. A happy marriage is something you build. So get moving.