It is Valentine’s week, and although it is a fabricated holiday loosely based on a saint, and over hyped to induce profits towards chocolate and jewelry….I like to celebrate.
Let’s be real, I like to celebrate anything that encourages warm happy feelings.
In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I thought I would do a few posts this week to encourage love in a marriage. I feel like marriage is kind of in threat of extinction these days. Our country is reeling from the decline in lasting marriages, and truly that saddens me. I want to encourage married couples to fight for their relationships.
It ain’t always easy, I know this from very firsthand experience, and I’ll share that later in the week.
As a wife of over thirteen years, and child from a very broken home (thus no real firsthand examples of marriage), I feel like I have a few tips to share by now. Well I have 5 main tips to be exact.
Learn to appreciate the imperfectness of your relationship.
Your life with your spouse isn’t going to look like the neighbors down the road who send love notes to each other all week, go boating together in matching jackets, and sing in perfect harmony on Sunday at church. Learn what it is that drew you to each other, and then celebrate your uniqueness. Do not try to make your husband act like your best friend’s husband. This is only going to voice your disapproval of your spouse to them, and tell them how much you feel they are failing at pleasing you. Most people dislike feeling as though their spouse disapproves of them, or that they just do not measure up.
2. Learn to say “Thank You!”
Everyone wants to be appreciated. It is easy in a relationship to get into a routine of expectations, that soon turn into perceived failures when those expectations aren’t met, but in reality….those things are just nice things that someone is doing to be nice. John takes out the trash, I hate to take the trash out, and I hate when it overflows. He does it to be nice since he knows I hate it, but if I were to get mad at him for not taking the trash out, that would be just wrong. Saying thank you can really go a long way in a relationship.
3. Just accept your spouses flawed habits.
You know, not everyone is perfect. I bet your spouse does things that really get on your nerves, things that they are probably never going to change no matter how many times you ask them. Things that probably are incredibly annoying, yet really do not matter in the scheme of things. John is probably never going to pick his laundry up and put it into the basket…you know the basket that is right there next to the laundry he discarded to the floor. I mean, it’s been well over a decade, I concede. I am pretty bad for getting an exciting thought and interrupting John when he’s talking. I do ‘try’ to not do it, but I can’t keep all of this excitement to myself. He accepts this of me….well he’s learning to. More than likely your spouses flawed habits are not relationship deal breakers, unless you make them to be. It doesn’t take me much time to bend over and put the clothes that John left into the hamper. So, I don’t make an issue of it anymore…..he’s overall a decent dude, so it’s just not worth it.
4. Make time for each other…..and turn off the phone.
Notice I didn’t say, go out on a date every week, spend a bunch of money, etc. No, just dedicate some time each week to be invested one on one with your spouse. We have five very high needs kids, no baby sitters, and the children are homeschooled. John’s work also requires him to only have an hour 3-5 days a week available for communicating face to face. So those other few days, we make a point to spend time being with each other. We talk about what interests the other (we are so different from each other with this it ain’t even funny). We might play cards or something. We might kick back and watch a movie and just cuddle. Do NOT underestimate the power of cuddling (oh and kisses for that matter). For the love of all things wonderful in the world, turn off the phone. Make your spouse your priority, for at least an hour, without any outside world interruptions. You would be amazed at what one hour can do to keep you connected to your spouse.
5. Get on the same page financially.
I would like to say give up your selfish desires to spend money and be materialistic here. However, every couple is going to make different amounts of money, and they are going to have different financial goals. Just make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to financial goals. Money is the number one factor in divorces, or so I’ve heard. We find the fact that we both want to spend our money on the betterment of our home and family, to be the best thing we could have ever decided. We have no desire to live beyond our means, and we really do not care one bit about designer labels and social status. That really helps in the pocketbook department. This wasn’t always the case, but once we finally came together on money issues, our lives really improved.
I know these are pretty basic tips, but really they are incredible towards helping to maintain a healthy marriage. Be affectionate, say “I love you,” show your appreciation, save your pennies, and overlook the empty toilet paper roll.