Want To Stay Married?
Make These Things A Part Of Your Every Day
I’m very interested in marriage. No surprise there, really. Later this year, my husband, Darius, and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. I’m looking forward to staying married for 10 years after that. Actually, I want to be married to him until death do us part and I’m sure he feels the same way.
The big question is: What should one do to stay married for a lifetime? The answers are varied and complex. What works for one marriage may not be healthy for another. Add in two different people, each with their own complexities, and you’ve got a recipe that potentially could be disastrous. Although marriage is by no means easy, there are so many things we can do to make it one we want to be in.
I found this intriguing post by Florida divorce lawyer Krista Barth. In it, she outlines 10 ways to stay out of her office.
I’ll let you read all 10 on your own (and I think you should–it’s good advice), but there were two pieces of advice that stood out for me:
1. Ask for what you need.
“We tell our employees, our children and our friends what we expect from them… why is our spouse any different?”
This sounds so simple, right? Sometimes we expect our partners to know what we need. “If he loves, he’ll know” is a popular refrain. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Despite what we’ve been told by romantic movies and love songs, people are not that great at knowing what you need exactly when you need it unless you tell them.
When we were in the dating phase, I spent one Valentine’s Day being upset with Darius that I didn’t get the right kind of flowers (I’m cringing with embarrassment at my youthful silliness), I realized that he had no idea what flowers I like. I thought he should know because I had the flowers all over my apartment.
It finally dawned on me that I should just tell Darius that I love Gerbera daisies. I asked him to get those if he ever wanted to buy me flowers. That’s what I’ve gotten ever since that conversation. I even got a birthday card one year with Gerbera daisies.
2. Say thank you.
“We wouldn’t dream of allowing a stranger to go without thanks for a kind word or deed. It is automatic, a part of civilized society.”
I’m a huge believer in gratitude. I think it makes us better when we deeply appreciate other people and let them know that we do. It’s easy to slip into a lack of gratitude when you’re married (at least it is for me) because all the wonderful things that happened in the beginning become routine and expected.
In the beginning of my marriage—when I was far more immature than I am now—my thought process went something like this: I don’t need to thank Darius for going to work every day. He’s supposed to go to work. He’d go to work if we weren’t married. What’s the big deal?
Darius has held a job consistently since he was 16. He’ll probably have a job as long as his mind and body are able. But with a wife, four children, a mortgage, and pretty good health insurance our family depends on, I know that he has to go to work with a different mindset than an unattached man. He can’t afford to goof off, drop in to work whenever he feels like it, or give the appearance that he’s not giving 100%.
The improved me understands this and I express gratitude to him for it. When he knows that I appreciate what he does for this family, of course it makes him feel good. It’s amazing how a sincere “thank you” can do wonders for our marriage.
Though all 10 pieces of advice are excellent, I don’t think Barth (or any divorce lawyer) is in danger of going out of business. But if every couple follows her advice, her business would be greatly reduced.
What do you think? What else needs to happen in a marriage so that the couple doesn’t find themselves in divorce court? How do you divorce-proof your marriage? Share your thoughts below.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexisnw16 [at] gmail [dot] com.