No one enters a marriage expecting to become a negative statistic. Marriage can be hard work, but there are many things you can do to enhance the odds of success. The little things matter. Small gestures and habits lead to success.
Help your marriage to thrive:
1. Keep your commitments. It doesn’t matter whether you promised to take out the trash, pick up the dry cleaning, or be home by 7:00. Do it.
2. Leave the past alone. Bringing up mistakes from the past only reopens old wounds. Leave the past in the past.
3. Avoid interrupting your partner. Take a deep breath and listen until your partner is finished. You’ll get your turn soon enough.
4. Be grateful. Keep a diary and list at least one thing about your partner that makes you feel grateful. It might be her smile or the fact that he always makes you laugh. The simple act of looking for positive traits in your spouse will change your attitude.
5. Do something fun together. As often as possible, spend time together doing something that you both enjoy. Sharing good times is a great way to become closer. Sit down together and make a list of activities you both love to do.
6. Avoid keeping score. Everyone has their ups and downs. Things are never exactly 50-50, but things have a way of evening out over time. Keeping score results in resentment.
7. Let go of the small matters. Divorce is often caused by petty disagreements. If you can agree on the big stuff, the little stuff is merely a distraction.
8. Give your partner some privacy. Avoid snooping unnecessarily. Stay out of your partner’s email account and give them the space they require to be an individual.
9. Address behaviors. Avoid attacking your spouse. It’s more effective to request that your spouse put her dirty dishes in the sink than to ask her why she’s such a slob. Address the behavior and avoid making personal attacks.
10. Have a planned date-night. At least twice a month, get out of the house and go on a real date. Take turns making plans and surprise each other.
11. Be respectful in public. Ridiculing or insulting your spouse is never acceptable, but it’s far more damaging when done in front of others. If you must be negative, wait until you’re back home.
12. Ask yourself what you can do to strengthen the relationship. It’s challenging, if not impossible, to change someone else. However, you can change yourself.
13. Focus on the positive. Some relationship experts believe that divorce results from a decrease in positive events, rather than an increase in negative events. Celebrate whenever something good happens!
14. Give at least five compliments for each criticism you give. Social scientists believe that each criticism requires five compliments to undo the damage. Be positive.
15. Realize that your spouse isn’t responsible for your happiness. Most find that their level of happiness eventually returns to the pre-marriage level. There’s much more to happiness than being married.
A happy marriage is the result of valuing and respecting each other every day. Tending to your marriage is like tending to a garden. It’s necessary to pull the weeds, but do so with a smile on your face. Make your marriage a priority. Give your marriage and your spouse the attention they deserve.