Writing the previous blog post had me pondering the topic of an actual cure for divorce. And then I flashed back to my bridal shower where at least 3 of my friends told me that David and I should never go to bed angry. Since you already know how I feel about that, I thought I would share some of my other tips for a happier, healthier marriage:
1. Don't be a jerk.
I realize this should go without saying, but judging by the number of spouses I've seen treating their other half like garbage, a lot of people seem to have missed the memo. If you don't think you're a jerk, I have a few questions for you: Do you ever insult your spouse (in public or in private)? Treat him like a child (or tell people that he is a child, e.g., "I have four kids... including my husband")? Make demands instead of treating him as an equal ("Get off your butt and take out the garbage!" instead of, "Would you mind taking out the garbage for me?") Are you rude, sarcastic, or mean-spirited when you argue? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be a jerk.
2. Keep the in-laws out of your marriage.
Once you set sail on the marriage boat, the in-laws need to jump ship. You and your spouse are your own family now, and you need to do what is best for that family. This doesn't mean you don't have to accommodate both sets of in-laws or make any efforts toward them, nor are you excused from being kind and understanding, but if your parents are calling every single day or demanding that you come over for dinner every Sunday afternoon, and your in-laws have put dibs on every holiday and every Tuesday in between, they are not supporting your marriage. Also not supporting the marriage? In-laws who dole out unsolicited advice, criticize your spouse or her decisions, or interfere with personal family issues.
3. Don't speak unkindly about your spouse to anyone, especially not family.
You may forgive and forget, but your mother will remember forever, so if you have an argument with your spouse, do not talk to your mother about it. If your spouse does something that makes you mad, do not talk to your friends about it. In the same vein, if your mother insults your husband, defend him. If your friend disagrees with your husband's career choice, stand up for him. You and your husband are a team - do not give other people the ammunition to destroy your relationship.
4. Remember that your spouse is the most important person in your life. Your kids come second.
Oh yes, I know the little darlings have to come first sometimes. (They're so demanding, aren't they?) They have soccer practice and homework and doctor visits and they want you to play with them and cook them dinner and buy toys for them. (And nothing sucks the air out of a romantic evening like Junior barfing all over your shoes). But you must remember that your spouse is the most important person in your life. One day, if you've done your job correctly, all the little chickens will fly the coop and you and your spouse will be a couple of old birds with nothing to focus on but each other. So make sure you've spent enough time nourishing your relationship - regular dates, regular intimacy, regular kid-free time - that an empty nest is a blessing, not a curse.
5. Love your spouse the way he wants to be loved.
If you haven't read this book, read it. Once you know your spouse's primary love language, speak it. If that means having sex more often, do it. If that means watching a football game now and then, do it. If that means remembering anniversaries, writing love notes, or going to the opera, do it. Marriage is work, but it has the potential to be the most fun work you ever do (and honestly, what could be more fun than rocking your husband's world?)
So there you have it, dear readers. Get to work!