Monday, September 24, 2012

Save My Marriage

Thirteen years and eight months married.  That is an accomplishment in today's society. 

However, 13 years doesn't hold a candle to some older couples I know. Some have been married 30, 40, and 50 years. I work with a lady who is 67, and she married at 17. She is still married to the same man.  I go to church with another lady who is about 75 and she too has been married since 17 or 18. 

How do people do it?  

I am no expert, but do have a few suggestions of how I've managed for my short, 13 years. However, I must give a disclaimer. While I have worked at it, I truly feel like it is God who gets the credit. He has been the glue that has held us together. No doubt in my mind He has worked some miracles.   

My marriage is certainly not perfect, but here are some things that have helped me over the years. 

15 Tips to Save Our Marriages

1. Know yourself and learn to deal with your own frustrations. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to take it out on everyone around me. Don't let your own frustrations with work, life, etc., manifest into a problem with your spouse. 

Many times our frustrations are based within our own personality and are not the other persons fault. If you are lazy, don't get mad at your spouse for not cleaning up or doing something you could have done. Or, if you are OCD, remember you are the one who wants everything neat and tidy. That is your personality. Knowing yourself and your own expectations can help you to recognize it's you not them but you. 

2.  Be committed.  If you are not committed to the marriage, you will throw it away with little regard. And, don't expect your spouse to be committed if you are not.

3.  Life is short, and starting over is harder and takes longer than you might think. Don't assume you can just throw this one out and get another quality person at the snap of your fingers. 

4.  Give God a chance.  Commit to praying for your spouse. Ask God to show you scripture to help you tolerate your spouse on those difficult days, and to be more patient with him or her. Also pray that God would change your heart so you see him or her different. He will do that! 

5.  What are you looking for in your marriage? Is it realistic? Or is it something you read in a romance novel or saw in movie?  Your spouse, male or female, is RARELY like any relationship you see on TV. Movies are fiction. Do not measure your marriage accordingly. Remember, no one can live up to fiction.

6. Love is more than a feeling.  It's great to be swept off your feet and have the feeling of young love, but real love goes way beyond that. Lust may attract you, but it doesn't sustain you. Love is commitment. Love is being a good parent. Love is provision. It is more than just butterflies in your stomach. 

7. When you get upset, make sure you are not mad over trivial things.  Frustrations are usually born out of a conglomerate of small things. Do not let these small things break down your marriage. If you are mad because someone didn't take out the trash, ask them to take out the trash verses asking for a divorce. 

8.  Keep your eyes on the big picture.  For me the big picture is staying married forever. I want this for myself, my kids, my grand kids. I don't want my kids to have to visit two houses on Christmas. That is important to me. Plus, I want to grow old with my husband because he is the one God chose for me. Focusing on that when I'm frustrated helps me remember to look past the small things. 

9. Money is important but it doesn't buy you honesty, integrity, or genuineness.  So, remember that when you think the grass might be greener somewhere else. 

10. Life is over in the blink of an eye!  What would your life look like if you lost your spouse today in a car accident or to a terrible disease?  That thought is sobering! Tell him or her how much you love them.

11. Are you a joy to live with?  While you are busy thinking of all the ways your spouse frustrates you, take a minute to think about your own flaws.  Is your spouse tolerating your flaws too? 

12. Are you doing the things for your spouse that you want him or her to do for you?  If not, maybe you should start. If you are doing those nice, little things and they are not being reciprocated, do it unto the Lord. :) 

13. Respect goes a very long way! Remember the basics like please and thank you. Also remember to tell your spouse thank you for the smallest tasks and see if your heart doesn't begin to soften.  

14. Remove the words "always" and "never" from your conversations with your spouse. Example: "You always drive bad." or "You never ask for directions!" It's rare we "always" do something, so chose a gentler word.

15. Lower your expectations. I have a friend who gets mad at me when I say this, but it is true. Our expectations for other people are usually  higher than they are for ourselves. Marriage is not the army. We shouldn't act like drill sergeants barking orders at each other. We should be a team, working together. I realize it doesn't always work that way. One person usually ends up with way more on their plate than the other one. Those things definitely need to be worked out. But overall, we should be more forgiving, loving and cut each other more slack. Ask yourself this...if your spouse were perfect, would there be enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished that you would like them to do? Probably not, so relax and lower your expectations a little. 

What other marriage tips have helped you? Please leave them in the comment section below. 

Since I am not an expert, here is a great resource. 

*Disclaminer - If you are in an verbally, physically or mentally abusive relationship, please seek the advice of a professional. This list is intended for the average marriage with everyday problems, not for the abusive marriage. Please seek help by calling Focus on the Family at the link above. Thank you. 

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