With divorce so prevalent in today's society, many married couples are left wondering how they can help their marriage survive, while others who are not yet married wonder if it is worth even getting married. Marriage is not meant to end in divorce . . . marriage is meant to be a partnership in which two people work together in life.
There are many things married couples can do to help strengthen their marriages and divorce-proof their relationships. The following are a few such things that can keep the fire burning in your marriage and keep you together through all things.
1. Invest Your Time and Energy
Like anything else, what you put into something is often what you get out of it. When you take time and care with something and spend many of your precious hours trying to get things just right, you are usually well rewarded, whether it be a project at work or school, planning an event or a wedding, starting a business, or in any other area.
Marriage is no different. It takes investment; your time, your energy, your ideas and creativity, your love, etc. The work that goes into a successful marriage is constant and upkeep is necessary.
2. Do Fun Things Together
Never stop dating! Even after marriage and children, you can still have fun as a family and as a couple. Find out what the passions of your partner are and invest some of your time and energy doing things together that he/she will really enjoy. You may find you also enjoy them. Make time for each other and make plans, whether it is a day trip, a dinner, or a hockey game. Life and marriage are meant to be enjoyed; couples should enjoy each other and activities that they love together.
Remember, do not be selfish with these fun activities; you must do things your partner likes to do too; if it's causing a fight, you may be approaching it the wrong way . . . compromise is the key.
3. Hold Hands
Some of the couples who have the most successful marriages I know have proven to me the importance of maintaining small acts of affection like holding hands. No matter how long you have been married, there is never a reason to stop showing affection to your spouse.
Whether it's holding hands or touching his or her arm as you talk, these gestures demonstrate love and are important in letting the fire burn in your marriage. These small things remind your partner that they are still attractive to you and that you care about and love them. Sometimes the small things are what count.
4. Say "I Love You"
If faith comes by hearing, then we can understand the importance of vocalizing our love for our spouse. Every time we say "I love you" and mean it, our marriage is strengthened. It may also seem like a small thing, and it may not come easily, but it is so very important in maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse. They should always be reminded of your love for them.
Say it out loud, say in a text message, say it in an e-mail, call and say it, leave a note and say it but never forget to say it. Your spouse will appreciate it whether they acknowledge that or not.
5. Set Goals as a Couple, and Get Excited About Them
Goals are important in any marriage; when you set goals as a couple you are acknowledging your future together and creating things to get excited about together. These goals can be set in any and all areas of your life, financial, family, schooling, what kind of house you want to live in, renovation projects, trips, etc. But whatever the goals are, discuss them and get excited together. Remember once again that compromise is the key; setting goals should not cause fights.
6. Appreciate Your Spouse
Don't forget your manners! Saying thank you and acknowledging the actions of your spouse is vital to maintaining a healthy marriage. Whether they have made you dinner, tucked in the kids, or surprised you with something, don't forget to appreciate them for it. Always highlight the things they are good at and let them know how much you appreciate who they are and all that they do for you.
Although it is easy to forget to show our appreciation to our spouse, it can really make a difference in their attitude toward you and toward their daily tasks. Appreciation will build confidence, your relationship and strengthen your marriage immensely.
"I'm sorry" is one of the shortest yet most important sentences in a marriage. Always apologize for anything that you have done that has hurt your spouse. Even if you can't understand why it hurt them or if you think it shouldn't have hurt them. Listen to your husband or wife when they tell you they are hurt, try to have compassion and empathy, and apologize for any contribution you have made, big or small.
When you apologize, mean it. Acknowledge that you recognize what it was that hurt them when you apologize to show them that you care about their feelings and that you can see what it was that hurt them. A heartfelt apology goes a long way, even in the most serious of situations.
Start slowly trying to integrate as many of these things into your marriage . . . if you already have a good marriage, they will keep it good, and if you are in a rocky area of your marriage, they will help get you through it. These are things that need to be done consistently, and with time they will make a difference and help you divorce-proof your marriage.
8. Make quality time
In today's busy world, it can be difficult to make time for each other. Yet if you don't make time for your family and your spouse, it will begin to fall apart. You will miss important events and dates, and you will slowly lose the bond you had developed. Make your marriage a priority, and never take your spouse for granted.
Many married people make other areas of their life a priority assuming their spouse will be there when they are finished everything. It is meant to be the other way around. Make your husband or wife a priority and set time with them first, before making time for your other interests and goals, etc.
Once you have made time, ensure it is quality time. Do you sit on the couch together, but he is busy playing video games while she is on the computer? Or do you flick from one channel to the next with little or no conversation? Try taking those things out of the equation. Sell the game system on e-bay, get rid of the cable, and just keep the local stations. Your marriage is the priority, do whatever it takes to take all other distractions out of the way!
9. Recognize That You Are Not Perfect
You are not always the easiest person to live with. You may say that to your spouse, but do you know that about yourself? Learn to acknowledge that there are times when you make mistakes. You are not perfect, so be honest with yourself. After you acknowledge that you are not perfect, stop expecting your husband your wife to be.
Focus on the things you love about them and either accept the things that are not your favorite or continue to pray and work on them together. You are meant to help each other become better people not just to focus on what you want and need. Strengthen your partner and allow them to strengthen you in return.
Forgiveness can be hard, but it is necessary. So many married people make the mistake of hanging onto all of their hurts and re-living them every time a new one comes along. You will hurt each other; it is bound to happen but once these hurts have been addressed, move on. Let them go, and do not allow them to ruin the rest of your marriage.
When we do not let go of hurts as they happen, they will eventually build so much that we will become bitter people that cannot see anything good in our marriage at all. Do not allow this to happen to you! Deal with problems as they come but let them go once they've passed. Forgive yourself and forgive your spouse. You both will be happier individually and as a couple.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.