Don’t let menial things destroy your marriage. You need to build your marriage on a proper foundation. Before you build a house, you have to lay the foundation. The same is true for a marriage as well. What is this foundation I’m talking about, read these 5 foundations of a healthy marriage to help prevent you from being a statistic.
1) Have realistic expectations:
You can’t just say, “I do” and expect magic to happen; you’ve got to have realistic expectations. Don’t go into a marriage expecting to change the person or thinking that the person will change, because that is the person you are marrying and they’re NOT going to change. You know who you’re marrying now, don’t be upset if they’re still the same person 5 years from now. The marriage ceremony will not make your marriage better; a grandiose wedding ceremony does not equate to a better marriage. I’ve known people who spent hundred’s of thousands of dollars and were divorced within 9 months; they couldn’t even make it a year, so believe me a wedding ceremony doesn’t make a better marriage. Think about what marriage is to you, ask your partner what they think marriage is. Talk about your notions and expectations before you decide to marry one another. Are your expectations realistic? Before things get too heated, read the next item.
2) Communication and Intimacy:
I’ve heard the statement “God, gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.” There is many truth to that, think about it, if you listened and truly listened to your spouse, how much more in-tune do you think you’d be to his/her emotions. Listening also gives you a chance to receive the true message that your partner is trying to convey; all too often the message is lost during transmission and we jump to conclusions before we’ve even finished processing the information. Listening doesn’t involve just your ears either. How many times have you asked someone, “What’s wrong,” only to get a, “nothing” in response? If you only heard the word, “nothing” then you probably just said, “Okay,” and walked away. This may have worked when you were dating, but not-so-much now. There’s more to communication than just listening, if you’ve ever taken any sort of public speaking or communication classes then you may have heard of the 7-38-55% rule, where the words we say account for 7% of the message we are trying to convey, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and our gestures and actions actually make up over half of the message. Go back to the situation where you ask your husband or wife, “What’s wrong,” they say nothing. Look at their body cues and posture and their facial expressions; body-language is a huge part of communication.
I know this next part is probably not really thought of as communication, but we’ve just discussed that communication is 55% of body language, so I think that sex is a huge part of communication. How long would your marriage last if you and your spouse didn’t talk for 1 month, or 3 months? On the same note, how long do you think it will last if you don’t have sex for 1 month, 3 months, or even 9 months or more? No, you’re right, but a lot of people who I know who try to make a marriage work without having sex with each other for months at a time, even years. It’s no wonder things end disastrously. Men and women both need this sexual contact and intimacy with one another, so don’t doom your relationship by turning down sex every night (especially out of anger or a fight), but there are times when you should agree to not have sex. It should be something that both partners want when having it, but every once in a while you’ve got to take one for the team and have sex, that is if you want your marriage to work. I’ve heard the excuse, we just don’t have time, but I tell you that you need to make time, try to set up a date with each other for at least one night a week where you can spend this intimate time together and strengthen your lines of communication. Part of communication is listening and being in-tune with your partners needs and desires not just talking.
3) Congruent Belief-System or Moral Standards:
I’m not saying that you both have to be Catholic, or whatever belief system you may be, but a lot of times problems start in the marriage when you have two different sets of belief systems. Especially when children are brought into the mix and one person wants to take part in certain rituals and rites that the other person may not hold dear. Here you have to really weigh why you want your child to go through a certain ceremony, or why not. If you aren’t married and don’t have kids, now would be a good time to talk about your expectations in these matters.
Another important aspect of congruent belief-system is does your partner have the same idea about what marriage is, what about relationships outside of marriage? If you go into a marriage with a skewed idea of marriage and don’t have the same moral standards when it comes to sexual relationships outside of marriage what will prevent this person from doing so. If you know where your partner stands on these certain issues then it shouldn’t become a problem down the road. Remember, you can’t change your partner, nor should you expect your partner to change after you are married. If your partner is an Atheist and you’re a Protestant, don’t expect your partner to all of a sudden start going to church with you, or quit going to church if you’re the Atheist. You know who you’re marrying this falls back on number 1 (don’t expect your partner to change), so you should talk about where you stand on certain issues so that they shouldn’t be a problem in the future; go through major components of your beliefs and moral code and discuss: marriage, sex, children, and anything that you think of that could be a problem. If your partner can’t change that aspect of their life or come to some sort of compromise or there aren’t any alternatives, and you’re already married you will have adapt and overcome. If you’re not married and no compromises can be met, maybe you should think about what type of toll this could put on your relationship in the future if this situation were to arise (remember you know your partner now, they will not change after you are married); you’re not breaking God’s covenant if you decide not to get married, it’s better to back out before and be judged by people, then to back out after and be judged by God.
When two people become married, they should now act as 1. In Genesis, the bible speaks of 2 people leaving their parents, it uses the word cleave, which is to cut off. This means cut-off the ties and the reigns your parents had, as you are now your own family and are responsible only to each other and God. I’m not saying avoid your parents completely, but they shouldn’t have any sort of rules over you and your spouse, and when you have problems, you should not seek them for comfort as this has many times turned one spouse against another; if you need to seek some help, find a pastor or counselor.
5) Self-Sacrifice and Submission:
Now that you are a married couple you must quit putting yourself first and put your husband/wife first. You must submit to each other; no that doesn’t mean to become their slave, but going back to communication, which is probably one of the most important aspects of making a marriage work, you must be in-tune with your partners needs and be willing to work with them and compromise toward satisfying each other. Not everything needs to be a compromise or a negotiation, but if you’ve ever taken communication classes or management classes you may have talked about negotiating; you are looking for the win-win situations in everything that you absolutely must “negotiate,” but every once in a while you will have to take one for the team or compromise. That’s what you are now as a married couple, a team. I don’t know any teams that want to lose… I hope you aren’t setting your team up for failure.