Are you happily married? Be honest!
Is your marriage going good or is it ready to fall apart? If you are still happily married you are in the minority these days. The question is then, how do you keep a strong marriage in spite of everything else you’ve got going on?
Last weekend, I’m sad to admit, I lurked around the aisles of Walmart to see whom a guy we knew was really with. Ernie and were shopping and we’d seen him at a distance. It looked like him, but it didn’t look like his wife. A minute later I discovered, it was, in fact, not his wife that he was on a little shopping excursion with. Before long, I was doing a bit more sleuthing through Facebook and discovered yet another couple in our community that had separated.
We are shocked
Ernie and I have lost count of the number of our friends, neighbors and people in the community that have broken up. We are often flabbergasted when it is someone who’s been together for years and years. It seems to be such a regular occurrence.
Isn't it supposed to be "for better or worse?"
I mean I get it if there is something really wrong. But what happened to “til death do us part” and “for better or worse”? Are we not supposed to work things out and hang on through thick and thin?
I've seen the worst, and don't like it so much
Let me tell you, we have seen the worse! Together Ernie and I have dealt with our own disagreements, financial challenges, parenting difficulties, mental illness, sick parents, trouble with the law, family feuds, horrible bosses, unplanned pregnancies, vehicle accidents and the list goes on. It has not always been easy. The truth is sometimes in our marriage, it’s been downright nasty. Yet, we stuck through those times.
I much prefer the better
Even bigger than that, we’ve seen the “better side”. On more than one occasion, together, we have watched the sun set over the lake on the most beautiful, calm evening. We have been privileged to see our son throw his daughter up in the air and hear her giggling, out of breath, saying “Again Daddy, again!” We have travelled the country together as proud parents to dance and Tae Kwon Do competitions and to basketball and baseball tournaments. We helped our kids see their dreams come true, from buying a guitar, to buying a house. Ernie and I have sat together, as best friends, night after night at the kitchen table or one the deck sharing the experience of our lives jointly. I couldn’t do it without him.
The challenge though is when everything else gets in the way
Yet not everyone makes it. You might be one of those ones he is hanging on. I commend you for that. Faced with grueling challenges at work, the stuff we have to deal with as we raise our families and our own inner battles around weight, confidence and household duties, there is little left over for our marriage. But we need to figure out how to make our marriage one of the parts of our lives that gets attention.
I've been learning about this for a while now
Ernie and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary this week. We will once again spend it camping together; focusing on giving back to each other. Here are 3 things I’ve learned about creating a successful marriage in the last 27 years.
3 Strategies for strengthening your marriage:
1) Respect him and his situation
As a leader, you have a lot to deal with. No matter what your partner does for a living, so do they. It may not be the same challenges that you are faced with, but it is their challenges. Respect where they are at. They have bad days too. They get overwhelmed, stress and may feel exhausted at the end of their day.
Ask them about their day. Express interest in their incidents for the day and the worries they are having trouble letting go of. Let them dump. Allow them to vent. Be a listening ear for a few moments. It shows you care, both about their situation and about them. Allowing them to let go of their day puts them in a better place. They might also then be in a better place for you to then turn to you and let you do the same.
2) Ask for help
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. It’s not gonna happen! Tell them what you need. Don’t demand it. Don’t insist. Ask. Here I am really talking about the over and above normal things. Perhaps you have a daily routine, a division of chores and responsibilities that sorta works. Then one crazy day, you just can’t handle your end of the bargain, just because you’ve had a really bad day. Ask your partner to pick up pizza on the way home. Ask for him to bath the kids, take the dog out, wash dishes, give you 20 minutes piece or sit and listen to you. Ask. He won’t know what you really need until you ask.
3) Offer help
On the same token, there will better days for you, and worse days for him. Give to him those days. Offer back whatever you can offer. A little extra sleep, a neck massage, a special dessert, extra time for him at the office or a listening ear. Whatever it is that you can give back, do. He won’t ask for it either. In fact, he may not even know that he needs it. Use your intuition to guide you.
Marriage is a give and take
There will be times when you are the one giving and other times, receiving. It may seem very unbalanced, for long periods of time. That’s just the way it is. The awareness though is what will help to bring the balance back sooner. Lean into each other often. Lean in through the delightful times and through what seems like merciless times when you aren’t sure how you are going to make it.
What is one thing you can do today to strengthen your marriage? Share below so that you can get other people motivated and inspired in growing their marriages as well.
My book is out!