Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Secrets to Make a Marriage Last

We are coming up on 11 years of marriage next month and the past 5 have been great! So what secrets did we unearth along the way to make things go from unbearable to enjoyable?

1. Grow up. Arguments went unresolved for days, issues were brought up over and again, and the goal was not to find unity, but to win. Eventually, we both realized that it could not always be about who was right.

2. Communicate. A little-known fact about communication: it is a two-way conversation. And the hearing part is much more important than the speaking part. I always thought communicating well was about presenting my argument better, convincing him of the superiority of my perspective. We learned that it is okay to let disagreements rest unresolved, as long as we both felt that we had been "heard."

3. Learn to speak Klingon. We all know men are from another planet, so why do we expect them to speak the same language as us? I may say "I love you" by doing his laundry or making his favorite dinner and thus expect him to say he loves me in the same way. But he prefers to say "I love you" by asking me to sit by his side and watch hockey with him. Learn what makes him understand your love, and try showing it that way. It is also okay to ask him to do the same for you.

4. Assume the best. My emotions tend to get the best of me, especially during a particular week of the month. My emotional response to careless words is, "He hurt me. He doesn't love me. He doesn't know me. He never did." My entire world shifted on its axis when I began to tell myself, "He didn't mean to hurt me. He loves me. It was not intentional. I should just forgive this and move on."

5. Laugh. We struggled with keeping our emotional cool during arguments. Things would move from heated to inferno with two misplaced words delivered on a raised voice. It was a cycle we couldn't break. So if things began to feel out-of-control, one of us would shout "Pickle!" in the midst of it. We would laugh, realize we needed to take a break, and schedule a time to revisit the issue. Annoyed by his bad habit of dropping dirty laundry on the floor, but knowing (through trial and error) that nagging would not change his habits, I offered him an apology. "Honey, I am sorry that I constantly put the laundry basket just three feet away from the spot where you'd like your dirty laundry to go." He laughed. Interestingly, the laundry is in the hamper at least 90% of the time.

6. Date. I've said it before - never underestimate the power of having time alone together doing something fun! Our dates nights help us remember that we actually like each other.

7. Absence does make the heart grow fonder! Spend time with friends. Encourage him to do the same. Same-sex friends provide an outlet that is completely different from the marriage relationship. We have found that we enjoy our time together more after having some time with friends. (As long as the time of absence is not greater than the time of being present, which is generally not very helpful for the marriage.)

8. Bless him. Recently, Pat was beyond busy at work and he was stressed. I knew that I couldn't do anything about his work, but I could reduce his stress here at home. So for those couple months, I took over the "blue" job of doing the garbages. Pat knows that I hate cooking, so on days when I'm particularly tired he frequently takes over for me.

9. Pray. For him to be the husband God wants him to be. For you to be the wife the God wants you to be. For a strong marriage. Together, if possible. We are still growing in the whole praying together thing, but I am certain that I can feel God's pleasure when we step out of our comfort zone and do it.

10. Don't neglect your "ministry." (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) If that was a bit too vague, perhaps it will help to know that this is the only ministry you will ever do fully un-clothed. (No personal examples here.)

I can't guarantee that using our secrets will work a miracle for you, but I wouldn't be surprised. After all, the fact that we are still married and happy is an absolute miracle for us!

holy experience

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