Okay so Mr and I have been happily married for nigh on 12 years. We get asked from time to time how we make marriage work for us in this crazy world of divorces, affairs, strife, work, stress, kids and never-ending chores.
We know how to fall out, don’t get me wrong, but it has never lasted more than 24 hours and 99% of the time, we fall back in, in minutes.
Are we joined at the hip, easy-going with the ability to read each others’ minds? No. But we have learned, sometimes the hard way, how to navigate many of the challenges of modern married life. And we’re still learning, all the time.
When we share with friends what works for us, their reactions suggest we’re unusual in some ways so I thought, just as I love to scour the net and good relationship books for advice, here are our top 6 ways to divorce-proofing your marriage:
1. SHARE YOUR CYBERSPACE. Have only shared email accounts or at least share all passwords. This may seem counter to the ‘norm’ but remember, email and the Internet are relatively new and so don’t let the ‘norm’ for people having multiple private email accounts set the standard in your home.
2. BE SEE-THROUGH. If you do keep separate accounts for practical reasons, let your spouse know they can read your messages, private messages/chat on Facebook and emails anytime they want to. Chances are they won’t ever want to but the principle is ‘we are one – say it to me, you’re saying it to my spouse too’ and this transparency is incredibly powerful for protecting your marriage. This also applies generally to keeping no secrets. None.
3. STAY ONE-TO-ONE. Become blind to all others (including on-screen, in print and online characters). Make your spouse your only fantasy. Share your desires (after a glass or three of wine if it helps!) and focus your mind on satisfying them and coaching them on satisfying you. You will reap WHERE you sow, so forget the rest – you married the best!
4. BE POSITIVE. Talk your spouse up, always. At work, in church, with friends…. and always in their presence too! Boast away! Tell the world how creative she is, tell everyone how generous he is. Don’t ever criticise or put them down, even slightly, in front of anyone. Now, there is always a time and a place for talking through real issues with a confidante but try imagining your other half is listening in – be respectful, be balanced about their weaknesses just as you would want them to be graceful about yours.
5. SWOT UP. Get the books, buy the DVDs, go to the marriage courses and seminars (preferably together). Invest in your marriage. Being a great spouse is about love and skill. Make time for socialising with other, solid couples. Get around other married folks who are open and honest about their ups and downs and willing to share experiences and encouragement. Don’t be fooled – marriage is under attack from all quarters… we need to stick together and help each other. Just ask questions, don’t wait for crisis to hit your relationship before you build a network of support. It’s always easier to prevent issues than cure them.
6. GRATITUDE, GRATITUDE, GRATITUDE. I know you love your other half, or you wouldn’t bother reading this. But do they know you love them? But don’t just say it – tell them why you love them. I know you’re grateful for the things they do around the home and for you as a couple and a family. Tell them. I know you want to make them happy and grow old together, sharing all of life. Describe your future together to them. Ask them what they see, what they dream for.
What are your tips for divorce-proofing your marriage? Share them in the comments below, or at http://www.facebook.com/lifechangeexchange