Live a grateful marriage. This is how…
Some experts believe that there is immense value in keeping a “gratitude” journal. Not only can this enrich your life, but it can change your mindset in such a way that your whole being benefits from it. Did you know that living a life of gratitude within your marriage can also bless you abundantly?
“I am so tired of his impulsiveness,” Elaine complained. Her husband, John, was one of the most exciting and unpredictable people in others’ eyes, but one could see that she was tired – emotionally utterly exhausted.
Early in their relationship, on a random Tuesday, he decided that he wanted to go and show Elaine the Eiffel Tower – and the next day, they were on their way. Another time, during his lunch hour, he walked past a jewelry shop where he saw a very beautiful ring, which he bought on the spot and that very same night, he asked Elaine to marry him. Even their wedding day was an impromptu affair – just three weeks after he asked the big question, they got married on the beach… barefoot. To outsiders, it looked like one of the most romantic marriages ever.
But John’s impulsivity was taking its toll on Elaine, whose nature is not impulsive at all. That morning, things just became too much for her to bear. “Our finances worry me – he makes impulsive purchases and then the items just gather dust in our garage. In addition, last night he decided to quit his job and start building a 3D printer. I never know what crazy idea he will have next.”
Elaine’s concern was justified, but one thing was certain – she would never change John. Deep down, she knew that, and one day, a close friend reminded her about something very important: “Elaine, do you remember that day when you and Gerald (her former boyfriend) were together for about a year? You came to me, being very unhappy, and you opened your heart. You told me at the time that that you know Gerald was your parents’ ideal son-in-law, but that you could never marry him. He was a perfectionist and his entire life was planned to the finest detail. John knocked your feet out from under you…”
And that is when Elaine had a light-bulb moment. She was focused on the bad instead of the good.
The value of gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most important ingredients for a successful marriage. In the early days of your relationship, you appreciated each other with gratitude, but over time, it is easy to start taking each other for granted. We then become blind to our partner’s good traits and only focus on the things that bother us.
A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, entitled “Have You Thanked Your Spouse Today? – Felt and Expressed Gratitude Among Married Couples” involved couples that were married on average twenty years. It was found that if one partner is deeply grateful for the positive aspects regarding their spouse, or their marriage, they also experienced higher satisfaction within their marriage. Individuals that had higher levels of gratitude was also happier with their marriages. And where one partner actually expressed their gratitude, the other partner also showed more gratitude, without even being aware of the other partner’s specific opinion.
Dr Cameron Gordon, lead researcher of this study, labels gratitude as a positive characteristic, saying: “To create something positive in a marriage is very different from removing something negative. Negativity in marriage leads to the relationship eroding, but we actually know little about the effect of positivity on the maintenance of a marriage.”
This is true, and gratitude indeed leads to laughter, fun, grace and a better understanding of each other.
In another study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, researchers from the University of George interviewed a total of 468 married couples and questioned them about finance, communication strategies and how they expressed gratitude towards their partners. Again, it was found that gratitude remarkably indicated marriage quality. Couples who showed gratitude towards one another was also less likely to divorce. Feeling appreciated has a huge impact on how a person feels about his/her marriage and the individual’s dedication to make it work.
Co-author of the study, Ted Futris, says that all couples disagree and argue. “What distinguishes the marriages that last, from those that don’t, is not how much the spouses argue, but rather HOW they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”
The study also found that financial stress can negatively affect marriages, but that, just by expressing appreciation for one another, this stress can be relieved. “When couples are worried about how to make ends meet, they are more likely to act in negative ways – they are more critical and defensive towards each other and can even stop talking to each other and withdraw, which then results in a lower quality marriage,” says Ted. “Gratitude, however, can break this cycle and help couples overcome negative communication patterns in their relationship, patterns which could be the result of current stress factors.”
It is not always easy to live with gratitude. Sometimes we simply don’t feel grateful and other times life is just moving too fast to focus on gratitude. But in a New York Times article, entitled Choose to be Grateful. It will Make You Happier, Arthur C. Brooks wrote that choosing gratitude can make us feel even more thankful. This is due to the fact that when we express gratitude, our brains release chemicals that reduces our stress, and make us more grateful.
In his research center, marriage expert, Dr John Gottman, also discovered that successful couples have created a culture of kindness and deliberately strive to view each other in a good light.
Habits of gratitude can start small, and in his article, Arthur writes that one should practice internal gratitude, external gratitude and then finally, gratitude for trivial things. The latter is the easiest. Being thankful for his smile, for the coffee that she woke you up with, gratitude for his warm breath in your neck on a cold night…
How do you do it?
- Be intentionally grateful.
Become more aware of the things that you appreciate about your partner and change your mindset. Instead of thinking that it is your partner’s job to do something wonderful so that you can feel grateful about it, rather see it as your responsibility to look out for something to be grateful for.
- Be generous and selfless.
Do something for your partner without them having to ask and without making a fuss about it. Have new tires fitted to her car, but don’t expect her to praise you for it. Pull the weeds out of his favorite flower bed without expecting thanks.
- Recognize and appreciate the intention and effort.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. He might have tried his best to prepare a “MasterChef” meal for your, but it had failed miserably. Respond kindly, for example by saying: “Don’t worry at all. I really appreciate what you did for me.”
- Be creative when you express gratitude.
Don’t just use the words “thank you” every time. Learn how say it in different ways. For example, say “I appreciate you”, or “I am so grateful for…” or “May you be blessed for this…”.
- Show your appreciation.
Use your body language and reaction to show your partner how much you value him/her. In the study led by Dr Cameron Gordon, it clearly emerged that couples who appreciate each other, apply active listening. When one partner is talking, the other one is clearly listening and processing what is being said (this is a way of showing your partner that you value his/her opinion).
- Make a conscious effort.
Set aside some time every day during which you pay specific attention to what is going on in your spouse’s life. Listen attentively when you ask him/her about their day.
- Focus every day on things that make your marriage work.
We are so inclined to complain about things that does not work. Make it a daily habit to move your focus to the positives and over time it will become easier to maintain this habit.
- Occasionally, express your gratitude in public.
Sometimes even the most confident of people feel insecure in public. Firstly, at home, make sure that your partner knows how grateful you are. But also make sure that he/she knows this when you are among other people.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
Write something in your journal every day and devote a specific section, for example the top right block on each page, to your marriage. In that block, write one thing about your partner that you are grateful for every day.
- The 60 Second Blessing.
Think about what you can tell your partner every day to encourage him/her. Then take one full minute (without any distractions), look your partner in the eyes and speak life. It is amazing what a simple compliment can do to make love grow. On the blog “marriage363.org”, Heather Christy wrote about one of the turning points in her marriage – when she and her partner learned about the power of speaking words of encouragement over each other.
If something as simple as a mindset, words of encouragement or gratitude can make such a big difference in your marriage, why not seize the opportunity immediately? Live a marriage of gratitude and experience change in your relationship from today onward.
Additional sources: www.foryourmarriage.org; www.psychologytoday.com; www.bustle.com; www.relatable.com; www.gottman.com; www.soundvision.com
Are you roommates?
Every great marriage is rooted in a deep friendship, but what happens when you and your partner suddenly realise that you’re living as roommates instead of a married couple?
“Anton and I were always the best of friends. We could talk about anything under the sun for hours and we loved having a good conversation over a bottle of red wine. I used to think this was one of our marriage’s strengths, until I was watching a TV episode about roommates and realised that Anton and I were exactly the same as the roommates! The problem was that they shared an apartment and not much else,” says Danielle about her marriage.
“To my shock and dismay, I realised that I had been so focused on our friendship that our relationship was faltering. The romance and passion was gone – it was like it had somehow disappeared overnight.”
Danielle spoke to Anton about it and learned that the situation had been bothering him for quite some time, too. They decided they need to turn the situation around immediately and they were able to succesfully transform their roommate status back to one of husband and wife.
How does it happen?
Children arrive on the scene and bills pile up. So much time and energy gets dedicated to other responsibilities that intimacy falls to the wayside. Couples start taking their marriages for granted and believe that love will be enough to sustain the partnership in the long run. When this happens, partners stop really communicating with each other – they just tick the most important items off their to-do list. Sooner rather than later, they stop connecting emotionally.
Sometimes a marriage can seem so “normal” on the surface level that a couple thinks they’re in a good place because there’s no obvious drama or conflict. A rude awakening can happen when one (or both) partners wake up one morning and realise that they’re bored! According to Pepper Schwartz, a professor is sociology and psychology as well as author of Prime: Adventures and advice about sex, love and the sensual years, this can create a lot of distance between partners.
A couple in this situation can be the envy of their colleagues and friends because from the outside, it looks like a highly functional relationship. However, while the partners accept the responsibilities that go along with being married, they don’t get to experience any of the benefits. They don’t feel loved and the emotional intimacy is gone. So many couples start out as soul mates and best friends, only to turn into roommates who are consciously or subconsciously resentful towards each other.
How do you know you are moving into the danger zone?
- You use the kids as an excuse. There’s never any time for your husband because you have children and their needs and activities come first. You’re crumbling under all the kids’ responsibilities but you believe that you will be able to divert your attention back onto your husband again one day, probably when the kids have left the nest.
- You don’t spend time together anymore. Roommates don’t feel it’s necessary to spend quality time together because they see each other at home. This leads you to take turns babysitting so that you can attend your book club and so hubby can have a boys’ night out.
- You keep your hands to yourself. Roommates don’t touch each other. They don’t hug, kiss or hold hands. Maybe you feel like the kids are on top of you all day and you need a bit of personal space once they are in bed.
- You’ve forgotten how to flirt! There simply isn’t time for flirting. You don’t even laugh when he tells his old Dad Jokes… you’ve heard it so many times!
- You don’t sleep in the same bed. Maybe you’re sharing the bed with your little princess. Or your husband sleeps with Fido. Roommates don’t sleep together and regardless of the reason (he snores, it’s too hot), this forespells danger.
- You don’t make an effort. Due to all the abovementioned reasons, you’re not really in the mood for sex so you’ve decided your husband doesn’t need it, either. You wear your oldest sweatpants to bed and parade around in a green face mask in front of him.
- You keep your wallets to yourselves. Roommates don’t share money and you don’t want someone checking up on you when you want to splurge on that new bottle of perfume. Each of you has a separate bank account and credit card. For some couples, this financial strategy works well. For others, it creates a divide.
What do you do?
- Be realistic. You can have great sex again, but all nighters might be a bit unrealistic if your youngest pops into your bedroom three times a night and your husband has to give a big presentation the following morning.
- Schedule sex. Discuss your schedules and needs, then set time aside for sex. It might not be the hanging-from-the-chandeliers type of sex, but don’t stop doing it. Sex isn’t optional.
- Create intimacy. Save information to share with your partner exclusively. Marriage is about the union between a husband and wife. If one or both of you shares your most private thoughts and dreams with someone outside of the marriage, then the intimacy between the two of you isn’t being valued highly enough.
- Do something exciting. Don’t let boredom get you down. Take a cooking class or a surfing lesson together. Make sure there is at least one hobby that the both of you share. Embarking on a new adventure together will give you focus (and it’s good for your sex life!)
- Discuss things that matter. Forget about shallow conversations topics for a while (“How was your day?”, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”) and focus on having deeper conversations. Create a ritual for the two of you, such as taking a 20-minute walk together in the afternoons when you can chat. Ask each other a meaningful question during those 20 minutes, like: “If you had to pick one goal to achieve before you turn 60, what would it be?”
You can be the best of friends and super comfortable around each other, but what sets your marriage apart from the relationships you have with friends is the type of intimacy that is shared between two people who are married. Be conscious about these issues and make sure that your partner feels like more than just a roommate!
Additional sources: www.thrivingcouples.com, www.webmd.com, www.jennyschermerhorn.com, www.yourtango.com, www.newspring.cc, www.marriedandyoung.com.
Have you and your partner lost your connection? Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut after picking up a few bad habits. Reconnect with your partner by establishing a new, strong connection. Here is how to do it:
To reconnect emotionally:
- Don’t let the gap between the two of you grow larger. It’s normal to feel a bit disconnected from your partner during our fast-paced lives and it’s understandable that you want a bit of space after the two of you had a fight, but don’t withdraw.
- Know how, when and where to show remorse. Did you give your partner harsh criticism or forget her birthday? Say that you are sorry. If apologizing is hard for you, tell your partner that you are feeling remorse and that you are struggling with a feeling of regret. This way, your partner will know that you are feeling remorseful.
- Don’t use dangerous fighting tactics. If you’re feeling compelled to threaten or blame your partner, or to set an ultimatum, don’t act on it. These are negative emotions that will have a damaging outcome on your relationship instead of a good outcome.
To reconnect spiritually:
- Discuss the intense topics and questions! Start a conversation about why you think you are on earth, what you think God’s plan is with your marriage, what the Afterlife looks like, and about your prayers that have already been answered by God. Don’t be afraid of having an intense conversation – not only could it give you new insights about your faith, but it can also help you to get a new perspective on your partner’s ideas and outlook on life.
- Embrace faith when you are going down the wrong road. On com, Tiffany Fletcher writes: “Many times we get derailed because we have forgotten where we are going. Our destination is muddled because our purpose for continuing is unclear. When we embrace faith, with it comes knowledge of why we are here and where we are going. We gain a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for our life and what we can do to better fulfill his plan for us.”
- Be graceful towards your partner. Remember that you are two individuals and each of you is on his or her own spiritual journey. Maybe the two of you are not feeling the same regarding your faith. In the same way that God shows mercy towards you, you need to also be merciful and forgiving towards your partner. Be patient and understanding.
To reconnect intellectually:
- When was the last time that you talked about the future? The future that you used to muse about may have already arrived and it could look vastly different from the picture you had painted for yourselves. Make time to sit down in a coffee shop with your partner and discuss your health, educational, career, business, financial and political goals for the year ahead.
- Set aside time to talk to your partner, and ask him or her the following questions:
- What do you think would be a good investment for our marriage?
- What do you love about our marriage?
- What do you think is better than earth-shattering sex in a marriage?
- Stay curious about your partner. Forget the everyday questions like “How was your day?”, and ask open-ended questions that require a bit more thought, such as:
- What did you do today that you really enjoyed?
- How are things going with your team at work?
- What do you think of Lisa and Ken’s decision to immigrate to New Zealand?
- How do you think so-and-so’s fraud case is going to pan out?
- Show your partner that you are really interested in him or her.
To reconnect physically:
For you and your partner to reconnect physically, you need to spend time together and be completely present.
- Give each other proper massages. Learn how to appreciate the value of a sensual massage, but make it an act of love and service as opposed to a means to an end.
- Sleep naked. A recent study showed that couples who sleep naked have a more satisfying sex life. Even if there is no physical touching throughout the night, the skin-on-skin contact is good for you on an emotional level.
- Be sensitive towards your partner’s needs for physical affection. Remember that not everyone requires or wants the same level or amount of physical touch. While some people flourish on physical closeness, others feel ‘overstimulated’ by too much touching. You don’t need to be holding hands, hugging and kissing to be physically close. Body language like the tone of your voice or certain facial expressions, such as a secret smile, can also help you to connect with your partner on a physical level.
To reconnect sexually:
- To establish a newfound sexual connection, start by flirting. Maybe you haven’t flirted for so long that it makes you uncomfortable, but the more you practice the better you will get at it.
- Initiate sex if you’re not the one who usually initiates it. By initiating sex, you are showing your partner that you are willing to make yourself vulnerable to be intimate with him or her. You will also be communicating that you desire your partner, and everyone wants to be desired.
- Give your partner a spoil session. This means that you take turns giving each other pleasure for a period (such as half an hour or an hour) without expecting anything in return. According to relationship coach Jordan Gray, this will help you to practice being selfless while it simultaneously teaches you to ask for what you want.
Being disconnected from your partner can be the catalyst to a growing sense of panic within you, but know that the situation can be reversed. To reconnect with your partner requires mostly small gestures that are born out of bravery to make big changes within your relationship. Start fresh – your marriage deserves it.
Additional sources: www.crosswalk.com, www.psychologytoday.com, www.hitchedmag.com, ourpeacefulfamily.com and “Emotional intimacy: A comprehensive guide for connecting with the power of your emotions” by Robert Augustus Masters.
It’s okay if he leaves his wet towel on the floor, but it’s not okay if he punches a hole through your door because he can’t control his anger. When it comes to choosing a life partner, how do you know which things to tolerate?
Instead of daydreaming about planning your perfect wedding, take some time to plan your dream marriage. When your big day is fast approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in all the arrangements and wedding drama, and to forget that a marriage is about much more than the ceremony and party afterwards.
Some couples’ honeymoon bubble quickly evaporates as the challenges of everyday life start to arise. It’s common to hear newlyweds saying that marriage is much harder than they thought it would be, and it seems to look like problems arose out of nowhere.
Pastor and author, Rick Warren, says a marriage doesn’t cause problems, but illuminates them. How can you weatherproof your marriage so that it not only withstands the first year of new challenges, but also the seven-year itch and all the other storms that may or may not follow? It all comes down to planning and preparation.
Start by making three lists for your marriage. Sit down with your partner and decide which things are important to you as a couple. Prepare a few leading questions for yourself, as well as for your partner, to determine what your biggest differences are and how you are going to overcome these differences if and when challenges arise.
To simplify the process, divide your questionnaire into three main categories. It’s important that your partner realizes how important these questions and lists are (and doesn’t attribute your efforts to some bridezilla streak). Here’s how to do it:
Red: Hard limits
The red-limit list will comprise of things that are non-negotiable for you. For your marriage to work, you must feel the same way about these things. Not only will it make your marriage exceptionally difficult if you don’t agree, but it could have a ripple effect on your families.
Religion and values are right at the top of this list. It can be a massive problem if you have different believes, and you will need a plan of action on how you are going to approach these aspects.
Consider how these issue will impact your family if you decide to have children. Do both of you want kids? How do you feel about the involvement of family members in your lives and the lives of your children? Decide how much influence your family members will have on your marriage and where you are going to draw boundaries.
Nothing is worse than a wife who needs to compete with her mother-in-law for the attention of her husband. Make decisions about the division of labor in your house. Does your husband-to-be have a problem with you having a full-time job and will it become a problem if you earn more than him?
Yellow: Soft limits
This list is for serious issues, but ones that you can negotiate about. You and your partner still have to agree on these topics, but there’s more room for flexibility. For this list to work, both of you must be prepared to give and take. If you can’t make compromises before the wedding, then it’s definitely not going to get easier after you get married.
Decide which battles you’re prepared to lose to win the war. Ask questions such as: How many children do you want? When do you want to start a family? Who carries the credit card with him or her? Who is responsible for different parts of the household?
Green: Unnecessary limits
This is the list where all the insignificant details are categorized. It’s the issues that you can and should disagree on, because it’s not healthy for couple to agree on absolutely everything. Sometimes it’s good to have a bit of a disagreement so that you can continue to grow as a couple and as individuals.
If you are disagreeing on what you want for dinner and whether My Girl is better entertainment than CSI, you’re not going to end up in a divorce lawyer’s office. How you approach these disagreements, will depend on you as a couple. The important thing is that you are able to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Don’t get angry and make a point of respecting each other’s opinions.
Remember that you are two individuals with different personalities, needs and opinions. If you are able to approach differences in the right way, you could end up being an inspiration for others.
Sources: marriagemissions.com, thellenlevy.com.
It’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to getting the big and important things done, especially when you are caught up in the mind-boggling number of day-to-day tasks of running a household and balancing your personal and professional obligations. It’s time to tackle these 20 things in your marriage and at home:
- Tackle that one room, drawer or cupboard (you know which one!)
The garage isn’t going to reorganize itself and that glitzy, poufy jacket is never going to make its way to an awards ceremony or date night. Throw away items that you no longer need and organize that kitchen drawer, which is filled to the brim with everything from cable ties and straws to napkins and plugs!
- Compile your will
Death isn’t an easy or comfortable topic, but your death will have a major impact on your loved ones. Ease their burden by making sure your final wishes are in place and that all the major financial obligations have been planned for.
You don’t have to morph into the fitness couple that only eats kale and quinoa, but exercise is a great way to spend time together and it will lift your mood. Consider enrolling for a dance class or go for a walk after work. This also creates the perfect opportunity to take a long, hot shower together afterwards . . .
- Tell him exactly what you like
Your husband may think he has all the right moves (especially if you’re making all the right noises), but if your thoughts are continuously wandering off during foreplay, then it’s time to sit down and show him exactly what you want. Order sushi for two and pour each of you a glass of wine before telling him how you want your foreplay sessions to pan out. Even better, show him right then and there in the kitchen!
- Plan your budget
Who wants to contemplate all the money you don’t have to spend? While this sounds like a dull and depressing exercise, it will help both of you to get a hold on your household’s spending.
- Talk about alcohol use
While you may be quite content with a glass of wine during dinner, perhaps your husband is more eager to have several beers. Besides the negative health consequences of alcohol abuse, it can also lead to conflict in relationships (especially if one person often drinks too much at social gatherings). Have an open and honest conversation about how you feel about each other’s alcohol habits.
- Discuss child rearing with an expert
Many couples have different opinions regarding disciplining their children, what constitutes age-appropriate activities and media use, curfews and other important issues. Speak to a child therapist or a knowledgeable expert to get external input about the issues that you two don’t agree on as a couple.
- Turn off the television and your phone
Diarise certain times when you turn off your phones and the television to spend time together as a couple or as a family. No media is allowed (and no exceptions!). Sit back and enjoy each other’s presence and the conversation.
- Book an appointment with your gynecologist
The most common reason for booking an annual appointment with a gynecologist is cervical cancer screenings and prevention, which is seen as a silent killer that affects far too many women. There are also a number of other bacterial and fungal issues that can cause vaginal discomfort and impact your sex life. Don’t procrastinate, book your appointment today!
- Communicate about your work obligations
You understand each other’s careers and you may know a few of each other’s colleagues, but how much do you really know about your partner’s day-to-day work activities, looming projects and career stressors? Take time to communicate about your work obligations so that you can be more sympathetic when your partner comes home late (again!), or if he or she seems particularly withdrawn or stressed at times.
- Pay a visit to your child’s teacher
You know your daughter is battling with maths, but everyone keeps avoiding the problem. Phone her maths teacher and make an appointment to go and see her, so that you can discuss a plan of action to improve your child’s performance in this subject.
- Don’t ignore bad debt
Unfortunately, bad debt doesn’t simply pay for itself or go away. Take a look at the various lines of debt that you have and pinpoint the credit cards that have higher interest rates. Try to pay back more than the minimum amount every month. Talk to a debt counselor if you are struggling with this task.
- Create a chore calendar
Everyone is tired when they get home, but the household doesn’t run itself. Create a chore calendar and schedule that assigns different tasks, such as taking out the garbage or folding the washing, to specific people on certain days. This will lighten the burden for overworked parents and get the entire family involved in running and maintaining the household.
- Address problems with the in-laws
Many people have lingering problems or bad feelings towards in-laws. They are a part of your family now and you have to make it work. Remember tip number 5 in Stephen R Covey’s book, The seven habits of highly effective people: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Plan your day to avoid tardiness
Obviously, nobody plans to be late, but you hit the snooze button a few times, forget to feed the dog, get caught in a traffic jam . . . and before you know it, your whole day is disrupted. Take control of the chaos by installing a map or route planner on your phone (preferably one that can give you real-time traffic updates so that you can avoid congested routes). As a golden rule, allow 50% more time than you normally would.
- Tell your partner what you want to experience in the bedroom
Maybe a bit of erotic play is exactly what your marriage needs! Talk to your partner about what you want to experience in the bedroom. Don’t do this while you are having sex – wait until you are relaxed and comfortable in each other’s company before approaching the subject.
- Discuss your parents’ future
Everyone’s parents will eventually get old, and some may need medical care and financial support. Discuss your expectations surrounding caring for your parents and how you will deal with the situation as a couple when it arises.
- Learn how to change a tire
Whether you have roadside assistance or your husband is always prepared to leave work and help you if you have car problems is beside the point – it’s good to know how to change a tire yourself. Ask him to show you how to do it, judge your tire-changing skills and reward you if you complete the task correctly!
- Enroll for a first-aid course
First-aid courses are affordable and it can save lives. This is especially important if you have young children at home.
- Create a security plan for your family
What happens if burglars enter your home in the middle of the night? Does your family know what to do, who to call and how to react? Security companies can give you a consultation on things that you and your family should do in the event of an emergency.
How easily does criticism make its way into your daily dialogue with your spouse? Hurtful remarks can leave scars. Even when you are not trying to be mean, a slip of the tongue can happen so quickly when you are tired, irritated or furious. While your spouse often forgives you when you snap, what happens when you say something that really leaves a scar?
Keeping your system clean
Do you have a water purifier at home or at work? Have you seen the mess that gets stuck in the filters after months of use? If you don’t remove the filth, the filter won’t be able to keep your water clean. You can’t buy another purifier when your current one breaks down, so you need to make the effort of keeping your current system up to scratch.
Your marriage is worth more than a water purifier, so you need to make sure you are not letting your marriage’s filters accumulate filth. The grime that can build up between partners can damage your marriage as well as your relationship with God.
Maybe you are thinking: “But my husband and I have said so many hurtful things to each other. Can you ever really take it all back? It will be hard.” With God, all things are possible – but no one said anything about it being easy. Put on your garden gloves, get your scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water, and put God on speed dial. It is time to purify your marriage’s filters!
Two heads in one (prayer) hat
To become one in the body, brings you and your spouse closer together. With Bible study, you and your partner can be drawn closer to each other spiritually. If you and your spouse do Bible study and prayer separately, this needs to change.
Decide on a time that will suit both of you – maybe before work in the mornings or before bedtime in the evenings. Take turns to read parts of the Bible to each other. When you pray, thank God for the privilege to be married to each other and ask Him to bless your marriage. Couples that pray together, experience a decline in conflict and are able to create a deeper spiritual bond.
It is not a competition
Are you subconsciously keeping score of who wins fights? Stop this immediately, because your relationship isn’t a competition or a balance sheet. Arguments are only “won” if the issue is completely resolved and both parties are satisfied with the outcome.
Keep the (young) cows out of the ditch
How long does it take you to tell your spouse when he is doing something that frustrates you? Some people cannot wait to highlight their partner’s flaws and mistakes, while others will keep quiet for a long time and then just explode after a period has passed.
Both instances lead to unnecessary conflict. No one wants to be reminded constantly of their mistakes. You are not perfect, so how can you expect your spouse to be? Your spouse is just a human being with his own flaws.
Does it irritate you if hubby doesn’t put his hand in front of his mouth when he yawns? Don’t wait until he does it for the 50th time before you say something. Talk to him about it the first time – do not let the problem become a nagging issue in your marriage.
Always and never
Many times you tell your husband: “You never help me with the dishes!” Or he tells you: “You always complain about everything!” Words like “always” and “never” are worms in the apple you skin with hubby – it spoils everything. Avoid absolutes because it’s usually far from the truth.
The moment one of you exaggerates the problem, your partner will immediately be defensive. Your partner is so busy defending himself that the purpose of the argument gets lost.
The no-go words
Every time you insult your partner, a part of your relationship dies. Sometimes we don’t even mean it, we are just angry and want to say something hurtful. Unfortunately, you don’t just hurt your partner’s feelings, you also damage one of God’s creations.
The tongue is sharper than a double-edged sword. If you struggle to keep it in check, then give it up in prayer. Let go of your ego and ask your husband to also pray for you about the situation. He is not going to think less of you – on the contrary, he will gain more respect for you.
Bullying and manipulation
We all know how a bully gets his way – he threatens you with something that is important to you. What do you and hubby threaten each other with to get your way? Do you refuse sex if he doesn’t do what you ask? Does he refuse to lend you his car if you do not agree with him? This is a terrible bullying tactic.
Washing dirty laundry in public
Have you and your spouse attacked each other in public, in front of friends and family or the kids? You probably felt very embarrassed afterwards. It is awful to fight, but it’s even worse when you realize other people now know about your problems and they see how badly you are treating each other. There is a time and place for everything. Let whatever is bothering you go until you get home, when you can talk about it alone behind closed doors.
Your marital problems or difficulties are between you and your partner. It is private and personal. Similarly, it is very uncomfortable for those who witness the tirade. Your guests will quickly head for the door when you start fighting and you can be sure that invitations to social events will lessen if you keep it up.
“Sometimes my wife and I can argue about something for hours, but we do not get anywhere. There are only so many hours in a day – what do we do?”
Firstly, if you see the conversation is going nowhere, take a break and agree to continue when you both feel refreshed again. This isn’t a way out to escape from the problem, it just gives you some time to rethink what has already been said and to bring new solutions to the table.
Secondly, do not start an argument the moment you are on your way to work or on your way out. Postpone it for a while, but do not leave it all together.
It is going to take time and a lot of patience to get your marriage filters clean. Hold on, hang in there and the reward will be absolutely worth it.
Article by Thalia du Preez
Additional sources: christianadviceonmarriage.com, ivillage.com