Marriage tips

Valentine’s Day, writing my love story last week and a few recent conversations with friends have me thinking about relationships.  Chris and I have learned quite a few things through our marriage that has made it even stronger.  Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

From Google ImagesTreat your spouse like a stranger. While it’s easy to snap at those we love when we are having a bad day, it’s neither fair nor productive to them.  I try to remember when I’m having a bad day that Chris isn’t the cause of it (usually!).  I wouldn’t be rude to a stranger for no apparent reason.  I shouldn’t be to my husband either.

Say thank you. I once read a magazine article about a celebrity who said she had a hard time thanking her husband for taking out the trash since it needed to be done.  I don’t think you can say thank you enough, honestly.  Our theory is that if the other one has done a chore, that’s one less thing we need to do and we appreciate it.  I don’t say thank you every time he takes out the trash.  He doesn’t say thank you every time I do a load of laundry.  But, we do make it a priority to say thanks a few times a week for everyday chores.  We all have a need to be appreciated.

Give each other privacy. I don’t have anything to hide from my husband.  He doesn’t have anything to hide from me.  However, if he needs to get something out of my purse or I need to get something out of his wallet, we ask first.  I would never mind for him to get into my purse.  Heck, he might organize it while he’s there!  But, I appreciate that he asks before barging in.  While we are married and we two have become one, we are also still individuals as well.

Talk to each other about problems. We’re pretty private folks, so this comes naturally to us, but we don’t air dirty laundry, so to speak.  If I have a problem with Chris, I talk to him about it — not my mom or my friends.  He does likewise.  We can’t fix problems and make them better if we don’t talk about and work on them.

Nobody is a mind reader. Spouses don’t just know what the other one is thinking or feeling.  You have to communicate that with one another.   Over the weekend we celebrated Valentine’s Day just the two of us.  We bought small gifts.  I actually told Chris that I’d love to have some sort of card or sentiment to go with it.  That stuff is important to me, I guess.  He doesn’t think about it as much.  I’ve found it’s much more productive to tell him this stuff rather than be upset when he doesn’t do it.  By the same token, I’ve also realized that sometimes he doesn’t notice things that need to be done around home, like emptying the bathroom trash.  He’s not trying to spite me by not doing it.  He just doesn’t notice.  So, I can do it myself or ask.

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Don’t micromanage. Yeah.  Chris can tell you I might struggle with this just a tad.  OK, a lot.  Remember my OCD tendencies I mentioned a couple of weeks ago?  However, we started the policy when we got married, that if one of us is doing a task, he/she can do it his/her own way.  If the other person has a problem, he/she should just do it.  So, if Chris is cleaning the bathroom, he gets to do it his way.  If I have a problem, then I should do it myself.  If I’m doing laundry and Chris has a problem with it, then he should do it himself.  The nice thing about that policy is that it feeds into our lazy streaks a bit.  Before I criticize or micromanage, I realize that I don’t feel like doing said task myself.  I shut my mouth!

Be each other’s biggest fan. My husband and I have each other’s backs 100 percent.  While we are helpful to one another and discuss work and such, we also support one another wholeheartedly.  He encourages me in my writing.  I encourage him in his work with computers.  I don’t think I could ever come across a computer problem he couldn’t fix.  The man is talented!  I’m his biggest cheerleader, and he is mine.  We also remember this in front of other folks.  I read some parenting advice recently that said to praise your children in public and discipline them in private.  I think the same is true in marriage.  When we are with others, I need to uplift and support my husband all the more.  If I have an issue with something, it can wait until we are alone.

Approach life together — the good, the bad and the ugly. We call ourselves Team Shannon.  We even high-five each other sometimes.  I think this could be my best marriage tip.  When you approach life together with a team mentality then you stay working together for the common good of your family.  We’ve faced many struggles together.  Rather than start placing blame on each other, we stay focus on what it is we need to do to get through the situation together.  We are a team whether we’re working together to get dinner prepared or making major life decisions.

What are some of your best tips for marriage?

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