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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Keys for Marriage

Recently Sean & I were able to have a date night and go see a play at the theatre. The show we saw dealt a lot with marriage--particularly the end of a marriage. Sitting in the theatre where an informal poll had been taken, Sean & I were obviously among some strong marriages since there were at least 6 people/couples in marriages over 50 years. It sparked an idea after the show that I've been working through.

What are the keys to keeping a marriage strong after 5, 10, 20, 50 years? Why do some couples make it and others don't? I can't presume to know all the answers or be an expert, but I've noticed things about my friends who have remained married and things about my friends who have marriages that ended in divorce. I think there are five main keys to unlocking the married forever door.

1. Where's your focus? Are you me-centered, he-centered or God-centered. While I know I'm not always God-centered, it's a goal for my life. Putting God in the center keeps the focus off of you. I listen to people whine about how their spouse never does 'this or that for me' and I always think--well, what have you done for your spouse? I also think it sounds more like my 4 year old. She seems to think she is the center of the universe and I know it's my job to guide her to the truth that the sun doesn't rise and set on her shoulders. But how many people think their spouse needs to treat them as if they are the center of the universe? No offense, but if that's you--grow up!
Who is your focus centering on? I'm not saying be a doormat, but put your spouse first and see if it makes a difference. Even better, put God first in your marriage and let your prayers and relationship with Him guide your actions and reactions with your spouse.

2. Keep the spark alive. Fan the flame of love in your marriage. Remember when you were first dating? How you anticipated time spent together and couldn't wait to be with him again? Work to bring back some of that spark. Set a date night--even if it's putting the kids to bed early so you can watch a movie at home together--and keep your date. Make time with your spouse a priority. And don't forget when you were first married, work to rekindle that spark, too.

3. Communicate! How many divorced couples say he/she just didn't understand me anymore? Learn to communicate. Take time to learn what is going on with each other. Again--don't be self-centered and think your spouse needs to know everything about you. It's a reciprocal action. Communication takes two people interacting. Learn about each other...and don't underestimate the power of silence. There's something comforting when you are comfortable enough with a person to allow a gentle silence to fall. Not every minute needs to be filled with words. I enjoy just sitting near Sean and holding his hand. Sometimes the trust communicated in silence is more valuable to me than all the words in the world.

4. Make time for you. Keep up with a hobby or passion of your own. Don't lose yourself in these middle years when it seems that spouse and kids and life take everything you have with nothing left over for you. If you lose sight of who you are, how can you expect your husband to continue knowing you? I love to scrapbook, but I'm the first to admit it's taken a back seat for a while. Instead, I've been following another passion I have--reading. I take time away to go to my room and read. I know that as the seasons of my life change, I'll be back to scrapbooking with the gals a couple times a month. And since I'm keeping aware of who I really am, it's ok.
I also sneak out a couple times a month to have lunch or dinner with friends. One BFF and I attempt to meet once a week. The reality is, that usually ends up being once or twice a month--but she's a friend where the conversation picks up right where it left off. I still meet up for dinner with moms who were part of a playgroup when Andrew was an infant. These dates with girlfriends keep my sanity in tact. I'm grateful for a supportive husband who knows that I'd lose my mind if I didn't go. So he takes care of kids and puts them to bed solo without grumbling or complaining because he sees the value in a wife who is relaxed and recharged just from a three hour power dinner.

What do you think the key is to a long-lasting (and great) marriage?

I guess if there's one more key, I think it's the "Golden Key". I believe the Golden Key helps get you to a Golden Anniversary (50 years for those who don't know). We decided when we got married that divorce was not an option and is not to be mentioned. If we're arguing, it is not allowed to be used in the argument. If both of you understand that it's not an option, I figure you'll fight to save what you have. It helps us fight fairly because one can't emotionally blackmail the other with the threat of divorce. It's helped us keep perspective on our marriage.

It appears that as of 2008, 40% of all marriages end in divorce. What are you doing to stay in the 60% who remain married?


I'm a full-time mummy said...

What a wonderful post! Hope you don't mind me posting the link to this post on my Facebook page!

~ Jenny ( I'm a full-time mummy )

Coolestmommy said...

Post away!

Yoroshiku said...

Robyn...the best thing I've learned in the past few years is to enjoy being married to the specific man I'm married to. Sounds like a no brainer...but I spent a lot of years comparing my husband and his style to other people's husbands. HUGE waste of energy. Once I decided to get on board with the man I married...that's when the fun started! Forget about other people's husbands!

Patty Newbold said...

Robyn, thanks for this great topic. I definitely want to second Yoroshiku's advice to "enjoy being married to the specific man I'm married to."

I would also add this: never assume the two alternatives you are arguing about are the only ones to choose from that would make each of you happy. Look for the Third Alternative.

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