November 10, 2009

Advice from a wayward marriage

(Reprinted from http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-22420-Arapahoe-County-Parenting-Examiner~y2009m11d10-Advice-from-a-wayward-marriage)

During a recent discussion among friends, a newlywed asked, “What was the best marriage advice you have ever received?” There were a few great responses such as, “When you say sorry, mean it,” “Let him think he’s in charge,” and my favorite, “The minimum sentence for manslaughter is five years.”

However, I couldn’t remember receiving any especially helpful advice prior to my own marriage. I thought about it for moment, about what I have learned from my doomed marriage and what I would have done differently. Now, newlyweds (and even seasoned married folks) usually avoid divorcees, lest their fate be contagious. However, who better knows what can go wrong in a marriage than those of us who have experienced it firsthand?

- Make an effort to greet your significant other when he or she comes home. This doesn’t mean a yelled "hello" from another room. Meet that person at the door, throw your arms around them, kiss them. Make them aware of how happy you are to see them or how much you missed them during the day. It's a simple, easy, and loving gesture.

- Don't let the television or computer take over your couple-time. It's easy to fall into a pattern of flipping on the TV when you are alone with each other. Turn it off once in a while and just pay attention to each other. Who cares if it's boring or if you may miss an episode of House? The ever-magical Internet has made it possible to watch television shows whenever you want. However, you may not always get another chance to focus on and enjoy this time with your partner.

- Talk about what’s bothering you right away. Don't let it stew. Even if it's an uncomfortable subject, just get it out there. The thing about resentment is that it does not go away on its own. If left alone, it will only get bigger. Address any concerns before they even have the chance to evolve into resentment.

- Sometimes men like to be pampered too.

- Make a ritual of doing something private, something only the two of you do together, where you feel free to talk about whatever is on your mind. Maybe it is sitting in front of the fireplace, taking a bath together, going for a walk, or driving around. Try to make time after the kids are in bed, to avoid any interruptions.

- Never fight, talk bad about, or speak sarcastically to one another in front of the kids. This should be a no-brainer, but it is enormously important.

- Be open about finances, even if they're not shared. In a relationship, you should be open about practically anything. However, money is such a typical relationship-killer that it only makes sense that a couple should pay special attention to this aspect.

- Sex is important in a relationship. I don't care what anyone says. I used to think it wasn't that important in a past relationship, but I see now that that was just my way of excusing the lack of it. What if you are not in the mood? Have it anyways. Oftentimes, that initial un-sexiness you may feel will dissipate.

- If you start thinking of leaving, make sure your significant other knows it. I assumed my ex-husband knew how serious I was about our marriage problems. However, when I asked for a divorce, he was taken by complete surprise. He shouldn't have been, by any means, but men are surprisingly clueless about certain things. Sometimes a person can avoid all the signs, but it is nearly impossible to avoid “I am almost to my breaking point.”

- But on the flip side, don’t make divorce an empty threat. It is not a word to carelessly throw around a marriage. The only time it should be brought up in a conversation is if you are dangerously close to it and are looking for ways to avoid it.

- Finally, know when enough is enough. You are doing no one a favor by staying in a miserable relationship. Not God, not your husband or wife, not your kids, and not yourself.

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