As a follow-up to my blog “Are you still married?“, I decided to get more practical.
Paolo and I don’t have a perfect marriage. We are not always on cloud nine. Life is as real to us, as it is to you, with all its ups and downs. We have misunderstandings and disagreements. We have needs that are not always met. There are days we are so busy and tired, we just go to bed without talking. But we have survived 18 years of marriage… no, not just survived, not just barely made it, but we actually managed to grow in our relationship.
I want to share with you some of the things that can help keep your marriage strong. (I am reminding myself as well.) You’ll be surprised to see that my list is not extraordinary at all.
2. Hold hands while walking. Hold hands in the car. It conveys the message that you are proud to be married to each other.
3. Be your spouse’s biggest fan. Shower each other with affirmation. Text each other sweet messages throughout the day.
4. Respect each other in your conversations. Don’t shout. Don’t use demeaning words. Don’t compare with others.
5. Learn to overlook offenses. Some things are really not worth fighting over. I mean, if he squeezed the toothpaste on the middle of the tube, so what?
6. Be generous with each other. Don’t be stingy.
7. Spend time with other couples who are as committed to their marriages as you.
8. Pray together. Go to church together. Grow in your faith together.
9. Regularly attend a Couple’s Retreat, at least once a year. This is like a “tune-up” for our marriage. There will always be things to learn and things to adjust.
10. Seek help from another couple when you can’t come to an understanding. Sometimes, all you need is another perspective from someone who has gone through the same challenges.
This is very doable, don’t you think? It’s these little, everyday things that matter. Of course, there is always room for a candlelight dinner or romantic getaway once in a while. But as they say, it’s the old, boring strokes that make you good at something. It won’t be easy, it can get tiring, but it pays off.
Our marriage will influence the generations after us. How our kids see our marriage today will have an impact on their own marriages in the future. I hope we all realize that.