In honor of the #MarchMarriageChallenge – thanks to Melissa Ann (www.theeyesofaboy.com/march-marriage-challenge) and Carrie (www.huppiemama.com), I have put my mediator/attorney thinking cap on and put together a list of important know-hows to keep your marriage a healthy AND happy one!
In my business, divorce is an all too comfortable word. The sound of it alone makes me depressed and yet I assist couples navigate the waters of divorce. My professional experience as a family mediator with Family Focused Mediation, Inc. has provided me with some insightful tips on how NOT to divorce. Although the following may seem predictable and unoriginal, it’s always a good idea to not lose sight of what’s truly important in maintaining a healthy, happy and long marriage.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
All the little nit picking with one another really does add up. The continual little jabs build on top of one another until one day the little things receive just as much negative attention as the truly major problems. All of a sudden you can not differentiate between what’s really worthy of an argument. The fact that he never properly hangs up his towel is not in need of a scolding. If it bothers you enough, fix it and move on.
2. Find a common interest.
Many couples never do things together other than the mundane eating, sleeping and taking care of the kids. Couples who enjoy a similar activity find happiness in doing it together. It doesn’t need to be as intense as training for a half marathon. It can be as simple as watching a TV series or taking after dinner walks. Having a common interest allows the couple to look forward to doing something together and not apart.
3. Discuss your finances every so often.
Even if only one of the spouses is the primary financial person in the marriage that does not mean that the other spouse should be left out in the dark. This topic tends to be even more appropriate when one of the spouses, primarily the wife, is a stay at home mom. Just because she doesn’t contribute financially to the household does not mean she should not be included in knowing the finances and making important decisions on how to manage them. Marriage is a dual party relationship. It requires both spouses to be on board with how the relationship functions, financially-speaking.
4. An apology goes a long way.
When a dispute arises and an argument ensues, an apology MUST happen at the end. The apology does not always have to occur immediately following the argument but it should come sometime soon after. An apology a day or two after will not suffice as a truly, authentic action. An argument with no closure only festers and will come back to haunt the couple in the future. This is even more important when the couple has children. It’s an unfortunate truth for nearly every family that the couple will argue in front of or within the earshot of the children. A shared apology between the couple shows the children that it’s alright to disagree and argue, but there is an end and the parties involved feel bad for allowing it to escalate. Children will learn that their parents love one another unconditionally even if they disagree about certain matters.
5. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
Many of the divorces I mediate could have been avoided had the couple sought marital counseling at the first signs of distress. For some unknown reason there is a stigma surrounding mental health therapy and marital counseling. And yet, a few sessions with the right counselor could save a failing marriage. If you don’t fight for your marriage, no one else will.
6. Don’t forget to laugh!
This last tip is crucial to the success of a healthy marriage. Humor can turn a negative situation into a position one in an instant. It allows for the emotionality of the immediate situation to dissipate and provides for a sense of relaxation. Obviously, using humor as a method of diverting the seriousness of a problem can easily be abused. But using it in appropriate settings can help remind a couple that they love one another and their current spat might not be that important. A marriage that is void of humor is usually void of love too. So keep laughing at each other and one’s self.
These tips may seem obvious to many of us. But for those who have experienced divorce or are currently undergoing the beginning of one, these tips may save your marriage or a future one!
Although the March Marriage Challenge is almost over, head over to March Marriage Challenge to read up on the prior posts. They are all inspiring and insightful!