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I don’t get on youtube a whole lot unless a video is shared directly with me. Some of my all time favorites are the cute old couples, who have been together forever. There’s just something about them that you can’t help like, and hope and dream that someday you’ll be that cute old couple.
Couples like Morty and Lee give me the warm fuzzies. You can see their love for each other, but also their determination to be themselves. I just love it.
Today Mark and I are celebrating 8 years of marriage. We have a long way to go before becoming the Morty and Lee couple, but it is what we strive for. Here are a few tips for a successful marriage I’d like to share.
On our honeymoon, Mark and I listened to a book someone had given us on marriage. The one piece of advice we both grasped on to, was communication. It told a story of a couple driving.
The husband at the wheel, the wife as passenger. Wife was getting hot, and said something to the effect “it’s really warm out today”. Husband replies “yes it is”, and continues driving. The wife sees an ice cream shop ahead and says “A cool treat would be nice in this heat”. Husband replies “yeah an ice cold soda would be nice”, and passes by the ice cream shop. Wife then begins to get angry. You never listen to me, she complains. Why didn’t you stop at the ice cream shop?! Of course the husband is confused and baffled at his wife’s outburst. He had no idea she saw the ice cream, and wanted some. She didn’t communicate her wants properly, and expected her husband to just know.
This story is all paraphrased from what I remember 8 years ago. Probably not exactly the story, but you can picture it right? How often do we do this to each other. Communication is so important in your marriage.
Hold on to Wedding Vows
So many marriages include the words “For better or worse” “through sickness and health” and “till death do we part”. But how many of these become just words to couples, as they toss out their marriage because they “fell out of love”, or one spouse made a mistake that becomes unforgivable to the other.
I will tell you right now – we have had our bad times. I expect more to come. But I know that I will fight for our marriage. I know that Mark will too because I know I’ll make my share of mistakes. As I forgive Mark for mistakes, I hope he can forgive me for mine as well. In our wedding, the words “For Time and All Eternity” replace “Till Death Do you Part”. When we are having a rough patch, I remind myself of that. I want to be married to Mark for all eternity. I plan on being married to Mark for all eternity. So we work on it. We push through until we come out to a sunny day – and there will be sunny days when you fight for each other, I promise!
Take time for each other
It’s often been suggested that you should have a monthly date night. A time to focus solely on each other, without the distraction of work, kids, or chores. By reconnecting you tell your spouse that you love them. You want to spend time with them, and you want to hear what’s on their mind that that they may not get to tell you during the rush of everyday routines.
Mark and I have almost a daily date. After putting the kids to bed, we sit together with snacks and watch our favorite shows, or we pull out a book to read together. Sometimes we’ll just use that time to reconnect as well.
Take time for yourself
I fail at this frequently. I have a hard time taking that time for myself because I feel like I must be selfish. It’s not selfish, though! Let me repeat…Making time for yourself is not selfish! There could come a point where all you’re doing is taking time for you, and then it would be selfish. But whether it’s getting up early to enjoy the morning quiet daily, or doing a weekly activity, you need that time. It allows you to enjoy a moment and free your mind of any negativity. Your spouse and family will enjoy the refreshed you. I learned this important lesson recently when I went to the Inspire My Life event with just my sister in law. I felt refreshed for almost 2 weeks after that, and still just thinking about it lightens my mood.
Learn your spouses Love Language
If you haven’t read the book 5 Love Languages, I recommend it. If you don’t want to read it though, I do suggest taking the Love Language test. It’s really a wonderful gauge to see what others can do for you that make you feel the most loved. If you know your spouse’s language it will be easier to show them love, and they will feel your love much more in a way that truly impacts their life. For me, my main love language is Physical Touch. I love hugging, kissing, and holding hands with my husband. These simple acts, for me, bring us closer as a couple.
Focus on the positives
This is especially important during the rough times. We can get so caught up in the negatives of a situation that after eating away at ourselves, it will start to eat away at our marriage. A good rule of thumb is for every negative thought, think of 5 positives. I’ve often been told that I have a good outlook on life, and I do hope that’s true. Things like a job loss, have me looking at the idea that we can move closer to family. Sure a job loss has been pretty scary for us recently, and if I wanted to I could dwell on the negative impacts our family is going through, but I’ve held fast to these positive thoughts, and because of it, I feel closer to Mark in a way I hadn’t before.
Be Flexible and Humble
Because this is a post on marriage advice, I asked Mark what he would add to my list. I couldn’t agree more with him. In a successful and long lasting marriage, you should be flexible in your wants, and be willing to give things up. It is also important to be humble. To apologize when you’ve made a mistake and work to correct it. On the other side of that, I’d also like to add be forgiving. Forgive your spouse when they make a mistake and allow them the chance to fix it. An unforgiving spouse has as much fault as the one who messed up.