Today I have an inspiring guest post from reader Susie of the blog New Day New Lesson sharing her thoughts on relationship attitudes that will benefit any relationship, married or not. I love that at the heart of it, Susie emphasises the importance of getting your own emotional house in order and having your own life.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on marriage lately. My nephew (actually hubby’s nephew but for me it’s the same) is getting married soon and I’ve been soliciting marriage advice from all different types of bloggers in an attempt to give the young couple some good advice to use from the start of their married life together.
Even after 21 years of marriage I have learned things. Firstly I’ve learned that people in a non married monogamous long term relationship have the same relationship issues (for good and bad) as do married people.
So what are the marriage lessons I have learned that will benefit any relationship?
Do not lose yourself
Yes it is fun to have someone to do and share things with. Just don’t forget you were two people who had their own lives and their own interests. Don’t give up any friends, hobbies or interests that you really enjoy just do be able to do things together. Your separate time and separate interests will in the end help you bond better.
Work on your self esteem by yourself and for yourself
Each and every one of us in some form and at some level has self esteem issues. With a new relationship and someone paying you compliments, giving you love and attention, your self esteem experiences a boost.
That’s great, but what happens when the newlywed stage dies down, you have kids who tire you both out or you are both just occupied with other things and slowly the compliments and attention taper off?
If you rely on other people for your self esteem you will always feel as if you are lacking something.
Conversely if you work on your self esteem and are proud of yourself, then nothing negative your spouse can say to you will bring you down.
Criticize the action not the person
When you are in a loving relationship why would you want to be mean and attack your best friend?
When you are upset or angered by something your partner did remember to criticize the action that is bothering you. Say it bothered me that you left dirty dishes in the sink instead of you never wash any dishes. They both say the same thing but one right away causes someone to go on the defensive because they themselves are being “attacked”.
Do not complain to your spouse about their parents
Yes I know, not an easy one, especially when they start complaining about them and you wholeheartedly agree. As much as they may be upset or dislike their own parents, hearing your spouse say so stirs up something. Again, if they have done something that you really have problem with criticize the action not them.
Make rules for fighting
Obviously by now you probably have realized that the criticizing the action not the person is a major rule. Others can be giving a time limit and after that ending the argument and moving on. Having a code word that changes the subject while conveying I love you too much to continue this fight.
Do not let fights get in the way of sex. Yes, this is hard especially for women who often need to feel connected and loving in order to have sex. As funny as it sounds, separate the two.
Live on a budget
Money is one of the biggest stressors in a relationship. It makes things worse and it makes them worse real fast.
So plan a budget, live within your means and discuss money. Both parties should be involved in the budget making and money decisions. That way everyone is on the same page and no one is “controlling” anything.
Talk about your goals and beliefs
Share your visions. Share your goals and desires. If you know where you are going you can get there. You can help each other and make sure to have written goals.
Respect your partner
Think about how you would like to be spoken to and treated and then treat your spouse a little better. The time and the effort you put into respecting your partner will pay you back 100 times over.
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT?
Open and honest communication
Learn how to talk and express your feelings. Don’t let a day go by without blocking out at least a few minutes of one on one talking time. Make sure to listen and not interrupt while your partner is talking. Don’t wait for them to ask you about your day, tell them the things you want to share. And remember you can disagree about things but you should be able to express those feelings as well.
I have been married 21 years and I am still learning. I find that people, especially the younger generation are more open to advice than I was at their age. (Gosh I am making myself sound ancient. Yes I do have a 20 year old son, but the youngest of my 5 kids is only 4.) I envy my nephew and soon to be niece because of their openess and ability to hear and take advice. They are starting off a few steps ahead of where I did.
Any relationship and especially marriage is constant work. Anyone who thinks that marriage solves everything needs to remember that for a marriage to be good you need to work on it each and every day.
Susie is the mother of five kids ages 4-20. She is also a part time ER nurse. She blogs at New Day New Lesson about the lessons we learn from life each day. Check out her weekly kindness club acts of kindness prompts on Tuesdays.