In honour of this past Valentines Day, I’m sharing the 7 building blocks my husband and I have used to solidify our marriage these past 10 years. Our marriage through highs and lows has stood unbroken, like a rocky cliff buffeted by storm-tossed waves that the ocean has thrown our way—living with in laws and siblings (13 other people) for a year and a half within the first two years of our marriage, the startup of a new business which led to us not having enough money to buy diapers at one point, a miscarriage, and a myriad of other lows that are a part of life.
Though our marriage isn’t perfect (whose is?), it is strong because of these 7 principles we live by.
- A Higher Ideal
My specific higher ideal may not apply to you because you believe differently. Yet this isn’t something I can leave out of the equation of the success of our marriage. From the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I have always strived to put God first in our own lives so that His love could help us grow in our love for each other. Our vertical relationship to God enables, empowers, and strengthens the horizontal foundation of our relationship to each other.
If you believe differently, selflessness should be the higher goal that you should strive for. True love is selfless and humble. These most important aspects of love is the life blood of all the following principles. Believing in an ideal higher than and outside ourselves helps keep our focus on what is really important, not allowing petty grievances to cloud our emotions and judgment.
2. What’s Important to Me Is Important to You
Chances are you and your spouse won’t have the exact same interests. You may have 1 or 2 that you share. You’ll probably also both be passionate about things that don’t interest the other in the least. That’s okay! You didn’t go out looking to marry yourself. Don’t let your differences pull you part. Instead, make what’s important to them important to you. That doesn’t mean you have to be as knowledgeable as they are in the topic, dedicating hours of your day to it.
It means eagerly listening to them explain something to you because they are excited about it, or being the sounding board they need to cement an idea. It means being their cheerleader when they embark on a new exciting project or when they are just trying to plod through a difficult one. It means being proud of them and sharing their achievements with loved ones.
3. Disagreements Are Healthy; Disrespect Isn’t
Expect to have disagreements. They are natural when you have two different people living in close quarters with each other and sharing their minds and bodies on a constant basis. How do we handle ourselves when we come against an opposing opinion? Do you talk it out like a sensible adult? Or do you thrash around like a child because your spouse won’t let you win? Please remember this isn’t a battle. Don’t start your argument with that mindset. Because if you do, your disagreement is going to reach the boiling over point where disrespect reigns. Shouting, pointing fingers, and crying are the only trophies you’ll get from this exhausting game plan.
Start with the mindset that you guys are a team. In a team, each player has different talents and a helpful, unique perspective on every situation. Find a way to tackle the obstacle using what the other person can bring to score a team win. Before you open your mouth to say what you want to say, let your spouse fully express their view, their concerns without interruptions from you. If something they say isn’t clear, then ask them to clear up a specific point. Once they’ve finished speaking, sum up in your own words what you understood them to say. Then ask, “Am I right in thinking this is what you meant?” If they say yes, then take a few clear moments to think about it. Try to understand where they’re coming from. More often than not, this clears up a lot of wrong assumptions and miscommunications.
4. No Compromise
Sometimes a couple is at an impasse. You’ve talked out both sides thoroughly. You understand where your souse is coming from, and still don’t agree. What do you do?
My husband and I agreed to no compromise at the beginning of our marriage. It has been a great tool to show the other person real love while also keeping oneself humble. What do I mean by no compromise? Think about it. If you compromise a little and the other person compromises a little, you’re both not getting exactly what you want, which can more often than not leave you slightly bitter or dissatisfied. Instead, one of you can give in all the way.
Please don’t misunderstand me and take this as leaving a door open to physical or emotional abuse. Absolutely not. I am not addressing any situation where these are possible elements in a relationship.
“No compromise” can be manifested in something as simple as letting your spouse get to eat at the restaurant they choose. It could also be manifested in something a little more complicated like letting your spouse choose what colour you’re going to paint the living room. Or you know the route they want to drive is going to take longer to reach your destination and you’re going to be late. It will be obvious when you get there. It gives you a chance to be patient and loving.
5. Sex Is An Act of Love
Too often, sex is portrayed as something you are owed. You deserve pleasure; so take it. Approaching the marriage bed with this kind of mentality can lead to devastating consequences such as the following: your spouse feels as if they’re being used and/or your spouse is sexually unfulfilled. These kinds of scenarios bleed into other areas of marriage where their frustration, hurt, or anger starts to infect.
When you have sex, think of it as another amazing opportunity to show your partner love in the way you know pleases them. Every time you do so with the right attitude, their pleasure increases your pleasure. You are both riding the wave of ecstasy without being domineering.
6. Keep In Mind Your Different Love Languages
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a must read for any couple! This book gives a practical blueprint to knowing how you and your spouse receive love best. Once you both have established your priority list of what are the best ways someone can show you love, you can share your insights with each other and make the opportunities to stay in love despite life’s everyday challenges that can dull or destroy your love life.
For example, my husband’s top 3 are words of encouragement, physical touch, and quality time. Knowing this, I can intentionally show him love throughout the day using his top 3.
7. Being One But Separate
The last principle that helps our marriage stick and thrive is having lives separate from each other. I have my circle of friends, and he has his. We enjoy different hobbies and interests. Not everything we do has to include the other person. Yet at the end of the day, we always come back to each other and share our experiences and what we have learned.
Instead of losing ourselves in each other, we are interdependent. We are confident in who we are individually and able to work separately. When we come together, we’re stronger together.
If you’ve been married for many years and have some wisdom to share, what are the principles you and your spouse live by? Please share below in the comments!