Wall of Faith: Nicole
My husband and I have been married for 22 1/2 years, and have been dating for 25. We are both passionate people (read that as we can be stubborn and bit fiery), and as a result, we have a few tips we’d like to share that have worked for us to protect our marriage and make it better every day.
Tip #1- Establish and Maintain Points of Contact
So, that sounds like a business term, but what we’re talking about is making sure you check in with or check on spouse each day at various times. I am asleep when Jason leaves early in the morning for work, but he still kisses me goodbye even though I’m unaware. The second point of contact is usually a brief Skype message in the morning or around lunch. We just see how each other’s day is going and stuff like that. Later in the afternoon we check in again, through text or Skype so I know when to expect him to be home from work. Another fun thing we do is greet each other at the door when the other gets home. Sounds cheesy but it’s a great way to make someone feel loved and welcome- trust me, you should try it! It has the tendency to set a great tone for the rest of the evening. The last point of contact we make sure to have is that we make an effort to go to bed at the same time, and we say good night and kiss each other before falling asleep.
Tip #2- Know Your Spouse’s Love Language (and your own)
The 5 Love Languages is a fantastically helpful book written by Gary Chapman. By taking a quiz, you learn what your primary love language is; words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service or receiving gifts. Understanding the way your spouse receives love is a game changer. If your spouses doesn’t care much about receiving gifts, then giving them presents repeatedly to show them love may not translate. However, if their love language is words of affirmation and you write them a letter saying how much you appreciate them and what you love about them, it will stick with them and they will honestly feel loved. I laugh because Jason and I used to shower each other with gifts, and it turns out receiving gifts is the lowest scoring language for both of us. It is much more satisfying when you get loved the way you understand it the best.
Tip #3- Don’t Go to Bed Angry
Hard lesson learned early on in our marriage here. I guess I am what you call an aggressive peacemaker (how’s that for an oxymoron?) - if there’s a conflict, I want it resolved and I want it resolved NOW, at any cost. I don’t recall specifically when I introduced Jason to my philosophy, but it was probably late at night after an argument. Imagine my surprise when Jason didn’t share my philosophy on not letting the sun set on your anger. Over the years we have learned from our mistakes and have come to a reasonable solution. If it is late and we have a disagreement, we stay awake and work it out. We have tried putting a hold on arguments and gone to sleep, setting a time the next day to work on it, but that’s not a favorite way of dealing with it. We both seem to function better the next day on less sleep and more peace, rather than the flip side of that equation.
Tip #4- Don’t Spend Time Alone with Members of the Opposite Sex
I figure this tip might be controversial to some, but this is what Jason and I have decided on for us. We don’t go out to lunch alone with a member of the opposite, we don’t travel alone with a member of the opposite sex, and we even make an effort to not individually text friends of the opposite sex. We try to use a group text including the friends’ spouse so there is no question of what is going on. It’s not always practical, but we do our best to follow this tip. Protecting a marriage is serious business, and we feel that this is an important step to take in doing so.
Tip #5 Communication and Fighting Fair
I’ll let you in on a secret: we only figured out these marriage tips because we have fought, argued, disagreed, misunderstood, assumed, blamed, shut down, complained, cried, questioned and listened. It all boils down to communicating, people! If there’s a complaint in your marriage, find the root. The argument about doing dishes or never getting out the door on time isn’t really about either of those things. Every problem has a root, and if you can get to that root you solve a WHOLE bunch of other problems along with the original surface issue.
A necessity for your marriage toolbox is also the ability to fight fair. Les and Leslie Parrott’s book,”The Good Fight”, is an excellent resource. The book uses a simple acronym to show what a good fight looks like: C.O.R.E.= Cooperation means fighting for a win-win, Ownership means owning your piece of the conflict pie, Respect means steering clear of belittling and Empathy means putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. Jason in particular likes Gary Smaller’s fast food drive thru method for communicating — basically, if you are capable of going to a drive thru and placing your order and the employee repeats your order back to you (and it’s correct), then when you get to the window and they give you want you ordered, you are capable of communicating clearly with your spouse!
We hope this list has encouraged you, but remember these things are what Jason and I have decided work best for us. There are couples that work different shifts and it’s not feasible to go to bed at the same time, and there are couples who can’t Skype or text at work, so do the best you can. Come up with what works for you! The important thing is to invest in each other, learn how best to express love to your spouse by understanding their love language, safeguard yourself from spending time alone with members of the opposite sex, and communicate! Oh, and learn to fight fair. We’re rooting for you!
Top Five Ways to Protect Your Marriage
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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