Marriage isn’t easy. It may be one of the most vital relationships you will ever have but it’s something that both husband and wife need to work for if it’s going to succeed. There is no shortcut to a solid and healthy marriage, no cheat sheet that makes it easy and effective. There are, though, a number of factors that will make it much easier to keep the relationship headed in the right direction.
Here are five ideas that are worth following:
This one should be obvious, but as marriage is the domain of two parties – and often two parties with different ideas and skill sets about certain topics – the ability to listen is really critical. Listening doesn’t just mean hearing, either. There is a difference between passive and active listening and when it comes to marriage, active listening is the way to go. Make sure you are immediately tuned in to what is being said, focus on the words not the noise, and actually think about the topic at hand. Those are the key points that will put you into good listening territory.
Advice vs. Venting
As a husband or wife you want to do everything you can to help your partner. That is why when they come to you with a problem your first instinct is to solve it. It took me about 10 years of marriage to realize that solving the issue isn’t always what my wife wants. Sometimes a problem doesn’t need to be solved, it just needs to be vented about. My new strategy is simply to ask at the beginning of a conversation what type of problem this is; something that needs solving or something to let off steam? This has resulted in a much better flow of information between the two of us and a happier relationship.
This is another area I personally have had a problem with in my relationship. As someone who problem solves for a living – and who just likes to talk – I have a habit of interrupting my wife’s stream of thought to get my point in. I don’t mean anything by it, it is just me saying what I am thinking, but it comes across as rude and like what she is saying isn’t important. Instead of thinking about what to say next, just listen. This will stop the interrupting and actually help with prior points on this list.
This isn’t an obvious idea to get your head around but it is vital to a happy marriage. There is nothing worse than arguing dirty. Topics in this category include bringing up the past – NEVER EVER do this – or using blame statements in an argument that start with phrases like “You did” or “You should”. Instead, disagree with class, bring the words around to yourself, using statements like “I did” or “I should”. Not only is this less provocative, it will also allow you to focus on your issues and may see your spouse’s point of view.
Never go to bed mad
Going to bed while angry is one of the worst thing you can do in your marriage. This means that no matter what happened the day before, no matter how small or big the problem was, the argument is going to carry over into another day. End that trend now by agreeing with your partner that you will simply never go to bed upset with one another. The argument doesn’t have to be solved that night, sometimes that is not viable, but pause the fight and find a common ground that will allow you to smile with each other. You will be amazed what a quick difference this makes to your marriage.
You can learn more about keeping your marriage healthy with the book Vital Guidance: For A Lasting Relationship.
Article by Steve Wright