Wednesday, July 31, 2013

10 Ways to "Divorce-Proof" Your Marriage

Today is my 9th anniversary. We've been together for 12 years, but waited until I was (almost) finished with college to get married. For some of you that's a drop in the bucket and for others that may seem like an eternity. For me, it's both. I can't remember a time when we weren't together and it amazes me when I think that this amazing man has been mine for over a decade!

There are so many things I wish I could go back and tell my unmarried self - wisdom I've gleaned from women much wiser than myself.  I'd like to think that if I had known better, I could have saved us both some heartache and avoided some of the mistakes that we've made along the way.  First of all, I would remind myself that the wedding itself really doesn't matter.  The only way spending a ton on your wedding could be justified is if it would guarantee you a long and happy marriage - but it can't!  In fact, going into debt for your wedding is probably the best way to guarantee problems in your marriage!  So, save some of that money and put it towards a house!

But, before I get too far ahead of myself, let me go back and start this thing right.

Dear Single Soul in Love,

I know you see that man or woman and you think that they're going to complete you.  You think you'll be together forever and that they will make you happy - is anyone else hearing the Jerry McGuire "you complete me" line in your head?  Let me go ahead and shatter that happy bubble.  That person you love is probably a slob (because most of us are in one way or another).  They leave their socks on the floor and the toilet seat up.  They have annoying habits like not cleaning up the sink after they shave and not putting their dishes in the dishwasher after they eat.  You won't always think their jokes are funny and you certainly won't always like the same music, or movies, or hobbies.  But, that's okay!  Those aren't the things that make a marriage work.  If you really want to make your marriage "divorce-proof", this is what you need to do:

1.  Put God at the center of your marriage! - I could backtrack and say that this only applies to religious people, but that's a lie.  Our souls are designed to feel like we're missing something until we find Jesus.  If you try to fill that void with anything else, including a spouse, it just won't work.  It will make you, and your spouse, miserable.  I learned this the hard way.  My husband does not give my life purpose, God does!  He gives me peace and contentment and joy (even when I'm washing dishes and doing laundry).  Don't put that kind of pressure on your spouse!

2.  Say Good-bye to Your Opposite-Sex BFF - As a married person, you should not be confiding your hopes and dreams and problems to someone you could eventually have a romantic interest in.  Even if you know that you are completely loyal to your spouse, don't do it!  Don't let that temptation into your life.  Besides, don't you want your spouse to be the one you go to with your news, good or bad?  Yes, I know that sometimes we all need someone else to talk to.  I'm not saying that you can't have any friends that are the opposite sex, just that those friends should not be your closest friends and that you shouldn't be building a relationship that might harm your marriage.  Before my husband and I got married, we did the long-distance relationship thing for a few years while I was in college.  We both had close friends of the opposite sex and we've seen first-hand the damage it can cause, even when there is nothing physical involved.  We call these emotional affairs and we've made sure not to have those problems in our marriage.

3.  Limit Technology - I will be the first to admit that I am not technologically savvy.  I do not own a smart phone.  I just started texting a year ago and I'm slower than a herd of turtles wading through mud at it.  But, I have learned from countless friends and acquaintances that have dealt with this that the computer and technology can be a slippery slope to an affair.  Gone are the days of numbers in matchbooks and hidden in pockets.  Now, we worry about texts and chat rooms.  Be proactive and limit your reliance on technology.  You'll find that there's so much more to life when you put down the phone and get away from the laptop.  I've shared before how our evening walks have been an invaluable way for my husband and I to reconnect in the evenings.  We weren't in danger of an affair, but we were in danger of losing our connection with each other.  Trust me, you will not miss anything important by signing off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and spending that time with your spouse.

4.  Don't Use the D-Word - It's like the elephant in the room - the 900 lb. gorilla that no one wants to talk about.  Divorce is an ugly, terrible word and should be more taboo than any 4-letter-word in your house.  It is a powerful word and once it's spoken, it can never be unsaid.  Once you bring divorce into an argument, you've instantly given that fight more venom - and you've broken a trust.  Make an agreement with your spouse that no matter how mad you get, you won't go there.  Everyone loses in that fight.

5.  Have Sex!  A Lot of It! - Intimacy is necessary in a marriage, both in the bedroom and out.  Talk to each other, touch each other.  Why is it that television shows can show high school kids having sex all over the place, but as a society we think it's weird if married people enjoy having sex.  Talk to your spouse about their expectations for sex - specifically how often and who initiates.  Don't be afraid to talk about sex because you'll save yourself a lot of hurt feelings just by knowing what the other person is thinking....and don't forget cuddling!  It's not just for unmarried folks!  The other night, in the midst of the bedtime chaos, I looked at my husband and jokingly asked, "Why do we have so many kids?".  Without missing a beat, he replied "horny and fertile".  Yep, that about sums it up!

6.  Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry For the Neighborhood! - When you argue (notice I didn't say "if"), don't run to your mother, your sister, your next-door neighbor, your friends, or your co-workers and start sharing the gory details.  If you must tell someone, I suggest finding ONE close confidante that you are absolutely certain will not share that information with anyone else.  Because, it's more than likely that you and your husband will make-up and he will once again be the Prince Charming in your castle, but your friends will not forget the stupid things that he said/did and will continue to remind you of them.  Or worse, they will start to treat him differently because of the horrible things you told them (which, let's face it, were probably a little biased and tainted).  And, the last thing you want people talking about is your marriage.  Don't let anyone think that they can drive a wedge between you and your spouse.  And, while we're on the subject:

7.  Publicly Build Up Your Spouse - Let your spouse hear you say good things about them to your friends and family.  Let them know when they've done something that you appreciate and be sure to shout it from the rooftops (they might just do more of it).  As the saying goes, you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar (or is it flies??).  If your husband feels like your superhero, he's more inclined to act like it!

8.  Be Considerate - This should go without saying, but don't forget the little things.  Call or text from work to say hi.  To this day, my husband calls every day during his lunch break and after work to see if there's anything he can bring home to make my day easier.  I look forward to hearing from him every day.  Speak kindly to your spouse, open doors, make their favorite meals.  Try to find something every single day that lets them know that they're special and important to you.

9.  Date Night - Try to get some time each week when you can be alone together.  Whether it's at home or out on the town, find a way to focus on each other.  It may even lead to #5!  If you need help with this, check out this list of 100 Ways to Date Your Spouse.

10.  Commit to Your Commitment - When you get married, you'll repeat your vows to love, honor, and cherish "until death do us part".  Make sure that when you say that, you aren't thinking until boredom do us part or as long as you do x,y, and z we won't part.  In our culture today, we're more likely to buy something new than fix it when it breaks.  We trade in our cars every few years and toss our wardrobes at the end of the season.  Marriage takes work and commitment!  You have to be willing to patch a few holes, change the oil regularly, and make do with what you have.  As the saying goes, "the grass isn't always greener on the other side, it's greener where it's watered".  There are NO PERFECT MARRIAGES!  But there are some darn good ones that are the result of a lot of love, hard work, and forgiveness.

If you're reading this and you're about to get married, I want to congratulate you and wish you well.  I pray that your marriage will be a thing of beauty.

If you're reading this and you're struggling in your marriage, I would like to say don't give up.  I pray that you would find healing in your marriage.  I recommend reading The Five Love Languages and His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage.  These books were given to us when we were married and have helped me so much throughout the years.

If you're reading this and you've been happily married for years, please share some of your wisdom with us. We are always learning!

If this is your first time here, thanks for stopping by!  I hope you'll take a look around and join us again.  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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  1. What a great post! 'Horny and fertile' made me laugh. I totally agree about limiting technology and after dinner walks. Happy anniversary!!!

    1. Thanks! I almost didn't share that, but my husband gave me special permission :) I think the best things we can do for our marriage are to just do what our grandparents did! Thanks for commenting!

  2. My husband and I have been married for two years, and we have a pretty good marriage (I think). However, when we do argue (because we do), here are some of my personal rules:
    1) Don't dredge up past arguments. It doesn't matter if you now have solid proof you were right, just forget about it. Move on.
    2) No low-blows. I never want to say anything to my husband that will hurt him. Sometimes it happens accidentally by a careless phrase or misplaced frustration, but I should never do it on purpose. And if I know he's sensitive about something, I definitely should not bring that up when we're arguing.
    3) Never leave when you're mad. When I get angry, I want to hit something (not a person, usually a wall). And then I want to storm out. Instead, I walk into another room and cry, pray, vent to the four walls--whatever I have to do to calm down. But I never LEAVE the house.
    4) Apologize first. Once I'm calm, I apologize to my husband. It doesn't matter if he started it. It doesn't matter if I was "right." I love him and ultimately, I want us to be happy with each other. Whatever we were arguing about is not nearly as important as our marriage, so I will sacrifice some of my dignity to apologize first. And you know what? When I apologize, so does he. We both win.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this on my FB page! Definitely looking forward to sharing this one this week with my followers there.

    I think you hit it on the nose! I know that sometimes technology is hard for some people to put down, but having that time alone with your spouse in the evening is so important!

  5. Thanks for sharing. Found you through theresonemommy. Great post and tips. Following you now.
    Angela @ Time with A & N

  6. I've only been married for 5 (very happy!) years, but this advice is spot-on. Marriage is hard work. It is a commitment. But it is so so so worth it!

  7. Am Joyce, i want to testify to the general public how my relationship was restored back by the great power's of Dr Ekpiku after three months of loneliness, my ex-lover called me after my contact with Dr Ekpiku that he want us to come back and start a good home, now we are happily married. All thanks to Dr Ekpiku for his wonderful spiritual help. You can contact him on his via email if you have similar problem, or any solution you may need,Good Luck.

  8. Stuff like this scares me; is it really good to give up friendships outside of your partner? Maybe this is why I'm not ready for marriage, haha. But it seems like there are "x,y, and z" things out there that SHOULD make you leave a partner, and sharing concerns about your relationship with friends is a good way to stay safe and healthy. Please take care of yourself, too!