Thirty Tips to Build a Strong Marriage
By David Sunshine
Tips 1 - 10
To produce a good marriage, you have to work at it. As the saying goes, the only place you find success before work is in the dictionary.
Here are some things you can do to help build a strong marriage.
1. Watch Your Relationships
To preserve your determination to make your marriage succeed, don’t get too close flirt with members of the opposite sex. If you do, in the back of your mind, you might begin to view them as alternatives in the event that your marriage doesn’t work out. This will weaken your resolve. After all, why work so hard when you have an escape route? Also, these types of close relationships are likely to make your spouse feel threatened.
2. Pay Full Attention
Listen to your spouse when he or she talks to you. It’s a sign of respect. Try to give him or her your undivided attention. Also, nod in agreement occasionally—it tells your partner you’re listening. If your spouse talks to you when you’re in the middle of something important, say so, and suggest a time when you’ll be able to pay full attention.
3. Share Enjoyable Activities
Do fun things with your spouse. Exercise together, take leisurely walks, or share a pursuit that’s mutually enjoyable. Such activities strengthen your relationship and make it easier for the two of you to endure the hard times that come in every marriage.
4. Learn from Your Experiences
Learn from the past. For example, if you find that you’re often tense when you’re very hungry, minimize your conversation with your spouse during those times. Similarly, if you see that your spouse gets worked up whenever you mention the name of a certain relative, don’t mention that person’s name unless absolutely necessary. Try to learn from the past.
5. Be Polite
Be courteous to your spouse. When speaking with him or her, use phrases such as “please,” “thank you,” “would you mind if I....,” and so forth. It will make your spouse feel appreciated and respected.
6. Never Say "I Told You So"
Remove the phrase "I told you so" from your lexicon. Saying these words only causes ill will between you and your spouse.
People say this phrase for two reasons:
- to show off that they were right,
- to get their mates to listen to them in the future.
What they don’t realize is that the message that comes across is, “Aren’t I smarter than you?” which is insulting.
When you’re proven right after an argument, your spouse will realize this on his or her own. There is no need to point it out.
The poet Ogden Nash wrote the following poem to encourage people to act this way:
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the wedding cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
7. Don’t Keep Score
Don’t walk around with a watchful eye making sure your partner carries his or her share of the workload. Instead, take the view that it doesn’t matter if you end up do-ing more than half of what has to be done. Making sure your relationship stays fifty-fifty will put so much tension into your marriage that it’s not worth the effort. So unless your spouse is very lazy or a real responsibility shirker, don’t keep track of who does more.
8. Watch Out for the Little Things
A family court judge once commented that in 99 percent of the divorce cases he pre-sided over, the couples were upset about very small matters. Here are some of the types of complaints he was referring to:
- “She never lets me leave the window open at night.”
- “He always wears that loud shirt that embarrasses me.”
- “She never replaces the toilet roll when it’s finished.”
- “He always leaves his socks on the floor.”
These small matters can be very detrimental to a relationship, so watch out for them.
There is, however, a silver lining to this cloud: Just as little things can ruin a relationship, they can also build one. A brief call to ask how your spouse’s day is going can make a big difference in his or her feelings toward you. Remembering your mate’s birthday with a little gift can mean a lot. Even just bringing your partner a chocolate bar or a novel you think he or she will enjoy can mean a great deal, because it shows you care.
Women in particular often need small but frequent gestures of love.
9. Greet Your Partner Happily
Smile at your mate when you greet him or her. It will make your spouse feel appreciated and loved. Even if you’re in a bad mood, be sure to flash that grin. It’s a small investment that can go a long way.
10. Respect Your Spouse’s Privacy
Don’t go through your partner’s things out of curiosity or in an effort to make them look neater. Privacy is a fundamental need all humans have, so be sure to respect it.
Similarly, make it a habit not to repeat your spouse’s words to others. You never know what your mate wants kept secret.