Since the foundation of today’s post has been laid in yesterday’s, let’s jump right to it.
Needless to say, married life is completely different than single life. It’s also completely different than life while dating, even if you’ve been with the same person for decades. It has nothing to do with that piece of paper we all sign. It does, however, have everything to do with the dynamics of the new relationship. People tend to be more comfortable in a stable relationship, which is what marriage essentially is. The sense of security that marriage gives them leads to more relaxation, transparency and spontaneity. To me, that’s a step in the right direction but only if we do not abuse it! Life should be more relaxed but we should not let it become monotonous. Transparency is a quality that should always be an integral part of any committed relationship but there should still be limits (don’t leave the bathroom door open in the morning while you are in there in the name of transparency, for example). Spontaneity is an essential ingredient for interesting and unexpected adventures but not if it leads to complete and utter chaos. Balance is something that we all should always strive to achieve, whether in our marriage, our personal lives or at work.
Based on my own young marriage, I’d like to share the most prominent points that I believe are most important when it comes to creating a stable married life. As the years go by, I am sure that there will be more to learn and I promise to write another post, maybe in a couple more years or so, to amend this one. It’s not a topic that can be covered all at once, marriage is an ongoing process and so is anything that has to do with it.
1- Honesty, honesty, honesty! Yes, again. Honesty and transparency are the most important aspects of any marriage. A marriage can survive many things, dishonesty not being one of them. Once trust is lost, there is no real marriage, just an institution carrying the name.
2- Communication is vital. Every single minute of every single day. Whether it’s something on your mind, an issue that needs to be tackled, planning to be done for the future or just a reiteration of what happened all day. An open channel of communication has to be maintained between husband and wife.
3- You need to trust each other without limits. Not just that, each one of you has to make sure that s/he is trustworthy themselves. If you do not trust your significant other then the marriage simply won’t work. Even if you manage to stay together, it will be like having a house built on weak foundation. With the first sight of a measurable problem, especially if it has to do with violating your partner’s trust, the whole relationship will come crashing down.
4- You are married, always keep that in mind! It seems so obvious but many people behave like they are married only in the presence of their significant others. It’s not like they intend to, it’s just that sometimes when their partner isn’t around they let themselves go. Don’t do anything that would hurt your significant other’s feelings or violate his/her trust behind their backs. Nothing remains hidden and even if they never find out, you will know what you did!
5- When things are rough, don’t let it be a chance for someone else to step in. There are a lot of people out there who would not care whether you are engaged, married or even have children. If they want you, they want you! Needless to say, those people know nothing about ethics and family values. Even when things are rough at home, even if you feel unappreciated, even if you feel unloved, don’t let that be a chance for someone to interfere and try to make things worse. A person who doesn’t respect your sacred relationship with your spouse doesn’t respect you either.
6- Don’t let the past come back and haunt you. Many of us don’t want to hurt someone who meant the world to us someday. But if they are not decent enough to step back once you are in another relationship then they do not respect you and they are not real men! If you do reciprocate their correspondences then let your spouse know and let them know where you are coming from. Better still, let your ex know that you appreciate the correspondence, if it were an apology or has to do with righting a wrong or making peace, but make it crystal clear that you do not wish to receive any others. What’s best though is to leave the past in the past!
7- Remember that you are a team, just the two of you. No matter what goes on between you, you stand as a united front when it comes to others.
8- If you are having serious problems let your significant other know. Don’t cheat and don’t distract yourself with anything destructive. Self-destruction is never the answer. Communication is much easier to do and much more rewarding.
9- Let your spouse know that they are appreciated, even when it comes to small things. Sure, throwing out the trash is no big deal but just watch their face as it lights up when you thank them with a tone of gratitude afterwards! Priceless.
10- Be there for your spouse. Whether they want to talk, want to be left alone, want you to create a diversion to distract them from a tough day at work, be understanding and do it. It doesn’t matter whether you comprehend what’s going on. Give them what they need and then they’ll give you what you need. Give them space and they’ll give you an explanation.
11- Yes, you are married but that doesn’t mean letting go completely. Whether you are a man or woman, maintaining a decent appearance, creating a serene atmosphere at home and introducing a little adventure from time to time into your relationship is essential.
12- Your spouse is more important than your friends. Does that mean that you should spend every waking hour with them? Absolutely not, not unless you enjoy their company that much! Even if you spend more time with your friends for whatever reason, it’s vital that you make your spouse feel that they are at the very top of your priority list. It’s not the quantity of time spent together that matters, it’s the quality.
13- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Sure, you may regret it when you have an argument and absolutely detest them for a short time afterwards but letting your spouse in is extremely important. Especially if they are the mature, understanding type who would learn a thing or two from what you tell them.
14- If one of you hits a slump with regards to working on your relationship, the other should pick up the slack, not slack off 😉
15- Do fun things together. It doesn’t matter if you are 20, 30, 40 or 70! It doesn’t have to be something big, just something fun for the two of you.
16- Maintain date nights from time to time. Have kids and don’t like to leave them with strangers, just like us? Have a movie night after the kids go to bed by renting a DVD or two and getting snacks ready beforehand. Have dessert, again after the kids go to bed, but light up some candles and sit at the table while eating.
17- Encourage and support each other’s good habits and interests.
18- Say it as it is. If you feel like he’s slacking off at work or you feel like she’s gaining too much weight all of a sudden, let them know. Be nice about it and try to say it in the most sensitive way possible to avoid hurting their feelings but don’t leave them to the wind.
19- If they care, you care. If they love a place, person or thing that you cannot stand then train yourself to love it to. If you can’t, at least pretend … fake it till you make it, as they say! If it’s important to them, it has to be important to you. You will see the results such behavior will yield.
20- Be respectful of their family. We all know how our families are like, we may not always show it but we really do. When he sees his mother going all mother-in-law on you or his sister throwing a jealous fit or his brother acting all juvenile, he knows exactly what’s going on and you don’t need to point it out bluntly. If it’s something that’s getting out of hand, pick the right time and talk to him about it. He’ll try to fix it and if he can’t then at least he’ll let you know that you were heard and that he doesn’t like what happened either. That’s what really matters, isn’t it? That he knows you are trying your best even if they don’t.
21- Remember that you are carrying his name, even if not literally. Honor it, do right by it and keep it clean. Even if he can’t see you, you and God do!
22- Finances should never be “the” issue around which your marriage revolves. It’s simple, if he’s got the money then use it, if not then don’t. You are obliged to live on whatever he brings in and if you are not happy with that then go work and spend your money whatever way you wish. My honest advice would be, even if he does have oodles of money and you don’t need to work, don’t go spending it all. Remember that he worked hard to earn it and it’s not fair for you to blow it off on stuff that isn’t a necessity.
23- Time as a family (including children) should be as great as time spent as a couple. Children bring us joy and so you should not associate them with a setback in your marriage.
24- Forgive them for their mistakes. Yes, they can be annoying at times, especially when the same “mistake” is repeated over and over again but when did you become so perfect yourself?
25- Stressed? Worried? Can’t bear to speak to a living soul? Let them know. Hopefully, you are married to someone who is considerate and will give you whatever space you need. If not, communicate what you need and make it happen instead of waiting for them to let it happen! Sometimes, believe it or not, they don’t mean to bug you till you blow up in their faces … it just happens!
26- Be spiritual together. Pray together. Get involved in charity together. Help others together. Whatever it is, do it together.
27- Watch out for each other. Defend them when they aren’t there and someone is talking badly behind their backs or makes fun of them. You will regret it if you don’t.
28- No real man lays a finger on a woman. If he ever does that, teach him a lesson by walking out. You will be the best judge as to whether to go back or not. Usually, it’s not a good idea.
29- Don’t listen to outside influence. What matters is what you think of your spouse. What others think is insignificant even if they are your parents, best friend or otherwise.
30- Respect each other’s individuality and have confidence enough to know that time spent apart doesn’t mean that something is wrong with your relationship. Let him have his days with his friends, let her go to that monthly meet-up. Don’t be so insecure as to suffocate them.
31- Your significant other is your best friend. They are the ones that will always be there for you. And even if, for any reason, that doesn’t happen, it’s your obligation to be there for them.
32- Never ever bash your spouse in front of your children. I don’t care if you hate each other to the core, not in front of your children.
33- Whatever family drama is going on, the children have nothing to do with it. They should have a normal relationship with all their aunts, uncles and grandparents. Adult issues are just that, children have got nothing to do with it. The moment you start to pull your child away from family, you should realize how horrible that is and what it makes you.
34- Help him realize his goals and dreams. Don’t stand in his way, at least move over!