I have been thinking about writing this for a while now. I have been asked by so many people what our secret is to being married for over 22 years that I figured now was a good time to divulge a few of those secrets. I hope you will find these tips helpful in your own relationship.
I started writing this with the intention of sharing a few of my top favorites but the more I wrote, the more I added. Therefore, I will make this part 1 of 2. What I (we) have learned over the past 22 years could probably fill a book. But today’s list will definitely get you started. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS PART 2, I GUARANTEE!! Therefore, I encourage you to sign up to receive notifications of when I put up new posts so you don’t miss part 2. I would also like to invite you to share this with everyone on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. You can do so easily by clicking one of the buttons at the bottom of the post. You never know who’s lives you may improve with this information. I appreciate it.
I think the most important thing to realize is that love is not that “butterfly feeling” you get in the pit of your stomach. If you believe that, you will never sustain true love. Love is not a fairytale and (because you don’t want it to end), doesn’t have a “happy ending.” Butterflies will come and go. It is in the times when they are not there that the most rewarding part of love is found. If you can keep this in mind, you are off to a great start. Those butterflies may last for just a couple of months or maybe even a couple of years. But as soon as things aren’t going as you planned, they may disappear. It doesn’t mean you stopped loving the person and it doesn’t mean you can’t get those feelings back. It just signifies a change in the relationship.
Love is found in your thoughts, not your heart. It is constant work, and as with anything worthwhile, it requires great effort. So, without further delay, on to the first set of tips:
- Bring up any issues immediately. There will be plenty of issues, I guarantee. Both parties were raised in different environments, by different people who had different rules, values and parenting/role model techniques. Therefore, expect to see things completely different from your partner. When feelings arise, talk about them. Don’t let them fester. The more you dwell on something, the bigger it gets. Focus on the solution instead. Approach the other person with kindness with hopes of a resolution, not to lay blame or “call them out” on something. This has been big for me over the years. I think too much and sometimes assume there is an issue when there really isn’t. I get it in my head that he feels a certain way and I’m usually wrong if it’s negative. Getting it out in the open dispels those theories of mine or helps to come to a solution if I’m right. The discussion is not heated when it is recognized immediately.
- Listen! If you have something that needs to be addressed it’s a good idea to “schedule it.” I know, that sounds strange, but think about it. Do you really want to bring something up when the other person is caught up in watching sports or their favorite TV show or perhaps in deep thought about a work-related issue? Respecting that the person may need time to get to where they can give you their undivided attention goes a long way. They are more apt to hear you, listen attentively and commit to the conversation and a solution. If you are approached with something and it is not a good time for you, let the other person know politely that you need 5-10 minutes, even an hour so you can be sure the person has your attention fully. Never bring something up in front of other people. There is a time and place, and in public is neither of those. Make sure you discuss this in advance so neither of you are angry when the person mentions they need time so they can focus on you. You will really come to appreciate the honesty and the respect. When that time arrives, make sure there will be little to no distractions (sometimes you may have to wait until you put the kids to bed.)
- Forgive, don’t hold a grudge. If you keep bringing up a situation that happened in the past, you will never move past it. Forgiving, if necessary, gives you both freedom. You no longer focus on the negative and the problem disappears. It’s in the past, let it stay there, don’t revisit it. If the same issue resurfaces, address it as a new situation, not a continuation. Holding on to the negative will keep you in a negative state.
- Have patience. Jumping in with both guns blazing will set you up for failure before the issue is ever resolved. If you’re angry, the other person will automatically get defensive and then it just becomes a battle over who has better come backs or arguing strategies. When you show patience toward the other person, there are also less struggles. You see the person with love and whatever the battle is becomes minor. Remember that love is not war. It is not about who wins; it’s about solving things and moving forward toward a better, trusting relationship. Patience will also help you forgive faster. One more thing, when you have patience with someone, they are apt to have more patience with you. We all need that. When we are patient with each other, there is more room for loving emotions.
- Speak kind words daily. Find something nice to say to the other person. It’s easy to find the negative, like nagging over the toilet seat being left up or the toothpaste lid being left off. After time, those little things turn into big things if you don’t let them go. They are not important in the scheme of things. Finding the good things in your partner will remind you why you are together, make the other person feel more confident in themselves and they will want to be that person for you all the time. Recognize the little things they do and compliment them. My husband and I will randomly write each other a poem or tag each other in a cute photo on Facebook. If one of us accomplishes something, even small, in our day, the other one will mention it with a verbal pat on the back.
- Find a common interest. My husband and I used to have favorite TV shows. We would set the DVR to record them so that we could watch them together, not separately. This would give us quality time together and show each other that we cared enough to wait for the other person to watch it together. More recently we started exercising together. He took up kickboxing, which started to take up a great deal of his free time, and our time together. So, after much encouragement from him, I tried it. Now we go together. It is a common point of interest. We are spending time together, getting healthier together and it gives us time during the drive to discuss our day, our future and anything that is going on that we may need to get off our chests.
- Be forever mindful. Notice which situations set you both off and come up with a plan to catch it before it becomes out of control or ensues in a full blown argument.
- Don’t place blame. You are a partnership. Seek to solve, together. Placing the blame on the other person as I mentioned earlier, sets them on the defensive. It will not get you any closer to a resolution. If you are being petty, it will make you feel better in the moment but really, think about it, when you place the blame, then you become at fault for something. Is that where you want to be? As well as not placing blame, do not belittle the other person or throw shortcomings in their face. They are who they are. You fell in love with them for the good but agreed to accept the not-so-good. I’m sure you can come up with a list of examples a mile long but try not to. I’ll just give you one of mine so you get the idea. My husband usually has a hard time waking up on his own. He forever sleeps through his alarm or hits snooze for the umpteenth time. He is due to get up at least an hour before me. Do I enjoy being woken up to several alarms and being half awake for an hour longer than I need to be? Not really, but I make sure I don’t let it affect how I treat him. I recognize this about him and I have found that if I simply say his name, my voice is enough to wake him up so he can hear the alarm and start his day. He also knows that if I sleep through it, he has to face whatever consequences there are for him being late. He just deals with the natural consequences and I never bring it up. I know he doesn’t do it on purpose to make me angry. These are the types of things you need to understand will happen and you just need to come to a compromise or help the other person to the best of your ability.
- Laugh together. I cannot stress the importance of this. Laughter is crucial. We must be able to laugh together, laugh at each other and laugh at ourselves. Finding the comedy in everything around you relieves stress and when you do it together, you share the lighter side of life and it seems a lot less serious.
- Don’t try to change the other person. Again, you fell in love with who they are. Love them for that. If there is something they are doing that could damage their health, then I would say, yes, that’s a change that may need some instigating but always approach with love and from the heart. Otherwise, this leads back to you pointing the finger and finding fault with them. No one likes to feel attacked for who they are or the things they do. They are unique. Support their differences and stand up for them if necessary to anyone else who may want to put them down.
- Ask for help. Have this conversation with your partner early on as well. There will come a time when things will be overwhelming for one of you. If you have discussed that this will happen before it does, no matter the circumstances, asking for help will be a lot easier. Give each other permission in advance to ask for that help and assure them that you will not see it as a sign of weakness, but as strength to admit they are human and cannot do everything on their own. Then agree to help in any way you can when they do ask so you maintain their trust.
- Have preset rules with the kids! Whether the kids are yours, theirs or both of yours, discuss each of your views on certain situations involving your children. Lay guidelines. Post rules on the fridge for all to read and clearly state what the consequences are for each infraction. It may be necessary to have separate lists for different age groups. That way, there is no running to the other parent for salvation. The rules are the rules. I have to admit; this is something we learned that we wish we would have done. We never actually incorporated it and regret it. It would have saved many struggles between us and with the boys.
- Take turns! We had our first child a year and a half after we got married. Who was going to change the diaper next always turned into a screaming match for us. Don’t let this happen for you. It’s not something to fight over. Be courteous and take turns. No one likes it. If you work as a team on this and other things that are not pleasant, they will get done and the teamwork will provide a stronger bond and a greater respect between you both.
I feel like I have taken up enough of your time for now. I have written most of the second half of this and look forward to sharing it with you. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS PART 2!! Please watch for it by signing up to receive notifications. They don’t do anything with your information except use it to send you my notifications. It takes very little time and effort. In the meantime, while you await part 2, please share this with everyone you know. Let them know part 2 is on it’s way. My husband and I would love to hear that because of these tips, others have made their relationships into what they dreamed it could be.
Please comment below and let us know which number is your favorite and why. Remember, I have more to follow but you may also leave one of your suggestions that has helped you with your marriage.
(Please check to the right to see if the second part of this has been posted by checking the post listings or categories and also look for other tips and techniques that will reduce your stress and give you greater inner peace and happiness. Thank you as always, for stopping by and THANK YOU FOR SHARING!) ❤