It’s heart-breaking when a marriage falls apart. In recent years Liz and I have seen many marriages of people we know under attack, some seemingly beyond repair. The worrying thing is, this seems to be on the increase. Now more than ever, we need to be focused on our marriages to keep them as healthy as we can.
We’ve been married now close to fifteen years. Marriages take work. The pursuit of our spouse must never stop. Every relationship is different, but here are some things that we aim for and I think work well for us. Be sure to let us know what works well for you.
We think it’s really important to try to eat meals together as a family. Keep use of iPhones (and equivalent) to a minimum during this time. We always switch the TV off when we sit around the table.
If you have kids, set aside time in the week for a family time – watch a movie, go for a walk, eat out, etc. Kids really love and benefit more from this than you think. It also helps the family to relax and spend quality time together.
We are not afraid to show affection for each other in front of the kids – much to their disapproval sometimes. We want our kids to know they have a loving family and we want them to grow up to treat their spouses well – even though Katie says she will never marry and just live with us.
I make an effort to tell Liz multiple times every day that I love her – whether that’s on the phone, email, text message, it doesn’t matter. She needs to hear that all the time. My esteemed work colleague calls his wife “pookie bear” over the phone. I will probably not do that, ever.
Regular date nights. I love my kids, but a night out on the town with Liz is hard to beat.
We need time to talk alone without being overheard and interrupted. It feels good not to have to share your spouse with your kids sometimes. Yes, I am selfish! Having last minute lunch dates is good too. Taking time out of your schedule to go grab a bite together makes for a happy camper.
Finance can be a big stumbling block for a lot of relationships. We share all bank accounts. There’s no such thing as my money or her money. There’s no individual savings accounts just for me, or for Liz. We have several accounts to organize our finances, but they are all joint accounts.
I trust Liz with full access to accounts and she trusts me. Before making any big purchases we will talk with each other to make sure we’re both happy. Even with smaller purchases I will be thinking about the impact the purchase could have on our household.
I know someone who came home and told his wife he’d bought a house. They’re still married, but he probably won’t do that again. :-)
For the guys – don’t get dragged into conversations with other guys who are commenting on women passing by, or in the office, etc. You get the idea. It might seem like it’s a only a bit of a laugh, but it’s really not. Back out of those conversations quickly.
I hear ladies can be as bad at this sort of chat. Stop it!
Always speak well of your spouse – both in front of them and behind their back! Don’t complain about your spouse to your friends. Don’t discuss issues or complain about your marriage with others unless you are genuinely seeking help.
If you are seeking help, it’s no good talking to someone else who doesn’t have their marriage together. Speak to a counselor, or your church pastor.
The Smokin’ Hot Wife
Don’t go too far other way and do something that bugs me – the “my smokin’ hot wife” twitter post. Stop it! Worship leaders and pastors seem to be the most guilty of this. What is the purpose of it? Are you hoping people will agree with you and validate your partner choice? Your wife may be “smokin’ hot”, but she’s the only one that needs to know that. You don’t need your twitter followers approval. It’s weird – stop it!
Guys again – if you sense something is wrong then is probably is. You’ve probably done something wrong and just don’t know it yet. Be persistent, get to the bottom of the matter. This approach however may sometimes heat the situation up even more for a short time, but work through it.
I hate conflict and usually try to avoid it, but sometimes it needs to be hit head on. The conflict that is.
Resolve conflict before you go to sleep. This is one piece of advice you hear a lot when you get married. There’s a reason for that – it stops issues from being suppressed and exploding even worse later – like some kind of super combo attack. Be warned.
Stop and listen to each other. If there’s a problem you need to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they are coming from even if you think they are being unreasonable. We all go through our spoilt brat stages sometimes and that’s okay. Just listen to each other.
Love God, your spouse and family, and then everything else after that. Yes, even church work. Sometimes I can take on too much and not think about the impact it is having. I still work on getting my priorities straight. You’ve heard the expression that a yes to one thing is a no to something else? Don’t let that “no” be to your family responsibilities.