I love weddings but I love strong marriages even more. Once the wedding and celebration is over, the marriage begins but where do you begin? What comes next? Here are ten simple steps that are easy to implement the first day and lay a good foundation for a healthy marriage.
- You are part of a team now with your coach being God. There really is no point in working against each other, trying to compete with each other, or holding resentment towards each other. Each of these behaviors destroys teamwork. Rather your marriage should be a pattern of working together as members of the same team.
- Forgiving the small things such as the things that annoy you or frustrate you lays a pattern for forgiving the large things. In every marriage, there will be large things that you will need to forgive and if you have been forgiving the small things all along, the large things become easier.
- Don’t just remember what you love about your spouse, but regularly communicate it to your spouse. Actually speak the words of what you love about your spouse, don’t assume they know. Even if they do know, hearing the words is a great reminder.
- Be grateful for the times of want because they tend to strengthen your relationship more than the times of plenty. It is in the times of want that you learn to work together in new ways and develop a healthy dependency on each other. In contrast, the times of plenty tend to increase selfish behaviors.
- Be intentional about showing your spouse polite behavior, using “please” and “thank-you” regularly. Too often polite behavior is given only for others thinking that we can just “be ourselves” with our spouse. But in the end, this demonstrates a lack of respect for your spouse that can turn into resentment.
- When you see your spouse after you have been apart, greet them with a hug and a kiss. When you leave your spouse for a period of time, even if it is just for work, say good-bye with a hug and a kiss. These simple acts demonstrate that you don’t take their coming and going for granted.
- Have at least one special place that the two of you like to visit and reserve it just for you. This means that even when you have children, this place should be just for the two of you. The special memory of this place in combination with regular visits creates an intimacy that only the two of you share.
- Find a simple act that demonstrates love to your spouse and do it daily. This will require communication to find out what is important to your spouse and then intentionally doing the act even though you think it is silly. This should not be a list of “To Do’s” but rather one small simple act.
- Be careful how you treat your spouse in public and especially in front of extended family. Making small jabs at your spouse, being sarcastic, or insulting them is hurtful and while they may laugh it off in the moment, resentment can build in the end.
- Talk about sex with your spouse. Don’t talk about it with your friends, joke about it around the water cooler, or involve your family in any way. Talk to your spouse. Tell them what you like, how you like it, and what you would like to try staying away from any remarks that could be negative.
There is nothing quite like watching an older couple who has been married for a long time still holding hands or gently touching each other. The love they have for each other just oozes out of them; it is something to aspire. While these tips are no guarantee that your marriage will be successful, they can improve your relationship.