At breakfast, I looked across the table at him, giddy and delighted that he’s mine. It’s been 12 years now, and I’m completely head over heels for this 6’7″ guy I met as a college senior. I love that he can relax when I can’t. That he thinks of a hundred ideas for something when I ask him for one. That he
molests kisses me when I’m trying to load the dishwasher. That he makes me laugh when my kids are having a blowout all around us. And that he loves me no matter how many times I make him read my blog or tell him all my hair-brained business ideas!
At one point, I almost threw away this life with him. After a new baby and two years of foster parenting our special needs preschoolers, the marriage was somewhere between complacent and downright hostile. We were both exhausted, our home had been turned upside-down, we were isolated from our friends, and we both handled it badly. He immersed himself in work. I banged my head against a wall since I felt like a single mom raising three kids in hell. I did lots of yelling. He did lots of sleeping. I finally packed my bags and prepared to leave.
- Remember that there is an enemy in your marriage, and your spouse is not him.
- Laugh. A lot. If you forget how, rent stand-up comedy DVD’s.
- Have a regular date night that only gets canceled if someone’s in the ER.
- Get counseling. Or coaching. Something that gives you a safe place to fight and heal.
- Go on double dates. It’s date night with added laughter and conversation variety!
- Spend the first 4 minutes every day cuddling together. Alone. This reminds everyone in the house your marriage is the priority.
- Have sex. Often. More than just when you “feel like it.” Schedule it if you have to!
- Every once in a while, ask each other four things: What does your spouse want you to do more of? Less of? Start doing? Stop doing? Never assume you know each other’s minds completely.
- For long-standing disagreements, find a way to take care of your needs. We fought for years about me wanting more help around the house. It wasn’t his forte, so we made adjustments and I hired a part-time sitter/home helper. It ended that resentment issue between us.
- Censor marital advice (i.e. ignore naysayers). Surround yourself with people who value your marriage as much as you do.
- Decide to stay. I packed my things more than once, and each time I just decided I’d stay one more week. If there’s no abuse, glue your feet to the floor if you have to. Just stay.
- The way you act in first three months of a big change isn’t indicative of the rest of your life together. So don’t freak out when you’re both funky around a new baby, new job, relocation, death or illness.
- Get away every once in a while for at least 24 hours. Priceline makes it really reasonable!
What would you add to this list?
If your marriage is ok and you want it to be truly great, what do you need to get there?
I’d love to help you find answers through individual coaching, or point you in the direction of great resources to cultivate the marriage you really want. Email me at email@example.com for more information.