*Don’t “overfeed” your children and “starve” your marriage. Make sure your children know that your first loyalty is to your spouse. Always back each other up in front of your children. If you don’t agree with a rule that is enforced with the children, talk about it privately rather than undermine each other. My husband and I started this fun idea that we recently heard: set a time that is just for you two. For us it is 8:30 after Kinley is in bed. This is a time to sit, snack, whatever…but without distractions. This is a time to just talk and hear about each other’s day.
*This goes along with the first, but continue dating after you are married. Take time away just the two of you each week. It doesn’t have to cost money, but plan for it and make sure it always happens!
*We have this mistaken idea that the best way to “help” someone improve is to criticize them. The opposite is true. We are motivated by praise. When we were first married, I remember I was having a bad day and I proceeded to say, “I’m sorry for complaining…” and my husband responded with the words, “complain? Yeah right. I’ve never heard you complain about anything.” He was sincere in his compliment and it motivated me to want to stay that way; whereas, if the statement had been, “why can’t you stop complaining?” there would have been little motivation present. That’s how we are as humans. We want to continually do what makes others happy.
*distinguishing between preferences and principles takes humility. Just because you like something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.
*Pray for your spouse. Not only is it special for your spouse to hear you pray about them, it helps you remember all the reasons why you love him/her. In your personal prayers, ask, “what can I do to make my spouse’s life less frustrating?”
*Communication is more an attitude than a skill. Too many people say things like “My husband comes from a family that doesn’t know how to communicate” and continue to blame the problems on him. Good communication more often comes from two people ready and willing to find a solution than from two people with a communications degree.
*Rather than feeling shame for our weaknesses, we can rejoice as they lead us to true humility and greater dependence on God. Rather than try to defend yourself, delight in the opportunity to learn and become a better person. There should be no shame in recognizing an area in our life that we can improve on.
*Always say “I Love YOU.”
*Do something EVERY DAY to express genuine affection and appreciation. Appreciation is the gas that keeps marriages going. Let your spouse know how much you love and appreciate them often. Don’t let what’s missing discolor everything
*Love your Husband and you will love yourself! (Ephesians 5:28)
* Make it a goal to never attack or call names. Be hard on the problem and easy on the person.
*Remember that crisis is composed of two symbols: one representing danger, and the other opportunity. Trials and challenges can either harm or help marriages, depending on how you react to them. Treat each challenge as an opportunity to grow closer to one another.
*Remember that giving up is not the same as compromising
*Agree to disagree!
* Instead of nagging about things you want your spouse to be or do, try becoming it yourself.
*Focus on WHAT is right, now WHO is right.
Now it’s time to hear from you! What would you say is your “best” marriage advice? What skills/principles have most helped you?