In this 21st century whirlwind age of anything goes dating and mating, relationships stand a better than average chance of being torpedoed due to inadequate care and attention. Below are eight ways to shore up your relationship and safeguard against any cracks and crevices that might surface.
1. There’s no such thing as 50/50 in a marriage.
Realistically, it’s about giving your partner as much as you can, as often as you can, and then giving a little more. Ideally, it’s 100%/100%. However, sometimes 100% of you is going to look like 10% if that’s all you’ve got to give at that moment and if that’s the very best you can do right then and there. Exigent circumstances exist and we all bow to them at times, making our commitment to anyone and anything sometimes less than we would prefer. But when we do our very best that’s all that should matter. So what if you can only give 10% today. In a short while, it will be your turn to put in the 90% as you support your partner.
2. Appreciate your partner and your life together.
Appreciation is such an underutilized word. We toss the word Love around like a frisbee, but appreciation is just as important. Everyone loves to feel needed and wanted, and saying “thank you” to your spouse will never go out of style. While you’re at it, when was the last time you said “Please” instead of making a demand? According to research by Rabbi Gary Neuman, 48% of men he quizzed stated they cheated due to an emotional disconnection, and that disconnection was due to the lack of appreciation they received from their partner. The number for women cheating is slightly higher and the same reasons were cited.
3. Give your partner space.
Too many couples mistakenly believe that being married is akin to being joined at the hip. The same things your spouse loved before marriage are the same things they will continue to love after marriage and wisdom dictates that you make room for their hobbies, instead of trying to dissuade them. Your pleas that he/she cease and desist this or that activity will very soon begin to sound not only like nagging and suffocation, but also control.
If your hubby likes to fish and hunt, don’t expect him to put his hobbies away the moment you say “I Do.” Better yet, find out if he’d love you to accompany him on some camping trips. Even if you despise hunting little forest creatures or using worms as bait to fish, you will have shown your willingness to join in something he loves doing. If your wife loved scrap-booking and decorating before marriage, expect way more of the same once the knot is tied. (She’ll be decorating for two!) And have the courage to attempt new experiences for both of you. It’s a great way to discover hobbies you both share a common interest in.
4. Grow together.
People grow and change, and marriages work best when we grow along with our partners. Death and stagnation occur when change and growth are stymied. If you’re a stay-at-home spouse and child care provider, use your “down-time” to catch up on current news and world events and interesting books and topics. There are enough channels on cable and enough topics on the internet to suit everyone.
Never allow the limit of your conversation to be focused on which brand of baby-food is organically grown. If it does, then expect to be labeled boring. Raising children is one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the world. However, you didn’t marry your kids. You married your spouse. Find as much time as possible to continuously cultivate ways to grow together and enhance your relationship.
An easy way to do this is to set aside one evening a week as a “date” night. Make this a non-kid, non-household, non-work event where such topics are not permissible. Instead, use the time to touch base with each other just as you did BEFORE you got married.
5. Cherish the time you share with your partner.
Make the time you share with your spouse a special time. If it’s just sitting in front of the TV watching old movies together, pop some popcorn and make it a memorable time. Take walks together or visit spas together. Find hobbies to do together and make them fun.
6. Don’t neglect your sex life.
Not only shouldn’t you neglect it, but find some things to stir it up! Pick a new spot for romance, perhaps the woods, and get it on in the wild. Getting your sexy on does not always have to take place in your bedroom at 9:00 pm after the kiddies are all tucked in. Or, find a few sexual enhancement aids. Read about honey, wine, strawberries and whipped cream. They are not just for dessert! Or, if you must stay stuck in your bedroom, charm it up with flower petals and candles. Above all, find your own personal sexuality and desire. Your partner will be thrilled if you are comfortable in your own skin in the bedroom (or the woods).
7. Love the one you’re with.
Stephen Stills 1970’s iconic hit, Love the One You’re With, produced a classic line, “If you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.” Not all of us marry our soul mate, and there will be plenty of times when the grass definitely looks greener on the other side, when you seriously wonder why you married your spouse.
However, if he treats you like royalty, doesn’t gamble your savings away, is not a drug addict, pathological liar, wife abuser, control freak or pervert, learn to love the one you’re with, including all their little idiosyncrasies. (You would be surprised how many people would gladly trade places with you.) The media has taught us that it’s as easy as 1-2-3 to quit when we consider our marriages growing stale, with the consequences of divorce now hovering between 51-57%. The caveat to remember, however, is you’re not perfect either. Even more importantly, think very clearly about walking away from something that could be perfect with some effort on your part. The saddest thing to see and live through is the loss of a potentially wonderful relationship.
8. Honor your spouse.
To honor means to respect, not to belittle. And, it goes hand-in-hand with appreciation. Ask for your partner’s advice at times and give them compliments instead of a steady barrage of criticism or ways to do it better. Praise your spouse in front of others and be kind to them in public. Sure, they may not always deserve it, but you’d be surprised how it will pay off in the end. If you want to be treated like a king or queen, then start by treating your spouse that way. What goes around, comes around, including good actions.
Society is out to harm our marriages. Social media, television, radio, even friends and family, are quick to jump on the bandwagon and point fingers, criticize, even tempt with “other” options. Ignore them all. Your marriage can be your greatest joy and you greatest blessing if you put the effort into making it so.