Recent weeks have been more hectic than usual and I expect the next couple to be even worse. I mention that only to explain why I reached back into my archives for this week’s post. In May of 2012 I wrote this column for the Farmington Daily Times. So, without further ado – whatever ado means – here you go.
I thought it might be interesting to list what I consider to be the Ten Commandments for healthy marriage. I plan to list my top five this week and the next five next week. I don’t expect that any of you will agree with all ten, but I’m hoping it might challenge you to formulate your own top ten as a couple.
So here goes:
- Thou shalt never threaten divorce. When you marry you typically make a vow which cements your decision to be united to your spouse until “death do you part”. There will be times in most every marriage when you’re upset enough with your spouse to think you may have made the wrong decision. It’s ok to feel this way – it is NOT ok to voice it.
When you threaten or intimate in any way that you are considering going back on your word it sends shock waves through your partner. He or she will likely then begin to consider how much they want to continue investing in the relationship if you are willing to bring it to an end.
- Thou shalt always protect the dignity of your spouse and yourself. The best marriages are built on a foundation of mutual respect and admiration. This despite the fact that each of you is seriously flawed and anything but perfect. It’s ok to be upset with your partner’s behavior, it is NOT ok to attack them personally when you see those behaviors in action.
The golden rule is absolutely applicable here – treat your spouse as you would want them to treat you.
- Thou shalt take a time out when either or both are too upset to deal effectively with the issue at hand. Face it, life is hard at times and often frantic and stressful. When you are not at your best you are quite likely to take out your frustrations on your mate.
Some of you remember the old song: “you always hurt the one’s you love.” That song rings true if for no other reason than that when you are upset it’s your loved ones who are in striking distance and likely to be recipients of your wrath. It is ok to be stressed and hurt and times, it is NOT ok to take it out on your spouse of other loved ones.
By the way, this idea of hurting those who are nearby is similar to the statistic that most accidents occur within 25 miles of your home. The reason, again, is that that is where you are most of the time. When I heard that statistic I moved.
- Thou shalt remember to keep fun in your relationship on a regular basis. Far too often the thrill of the courtship gives way to the mundane monotony of marriage. People get so caught up in making a living and raising the kids that they stop focusing on them and their relationship.
When they were dating they couldn’t wait to be together and to do things together. You may want to take an assessment of the last time you went out on a date, or away for a weekend, or even took a week off to vacation just as a couple. My fear is that for many the results will be distant memories. It is certainly ok to focus on the necessities of living, it is NOT ok to forsake the joys of marriage in the process.
- Thou shalt discover and speak your spouse’s love language. Many of you are familiar with the ground-breaking work of Dr Gary Chapman, author of numerous books including The Five Love Languages. Dr Chapman makes a compelling case that we all give and receive love differently. Since you did not marry your clone the odds are way above fair to middlin that your mate’s preferences are different from yours in this vital area.
You might want to pick up a copy of his book or visit www.fivelovelanguages.com and take the free on-line inventory to discover your own and your mate’s love language. It is certainly ok to have your own love language and to expect your mate to speak it on a regular basis. It is NOT ok to expect your mate to speak the same language or for you to ignore his or her’s just because it may be foreign to you.
Now I certainly realize I am not God. I’m not even Charlton Heston (you younger folks may need to ask your parents or grandparents what I mean by that). But I absolutely believe that these commandments, along with the one’s I plan to detail next week will, if converted to regular practices, have a dramatic and positive impact on your marriage.
Ron Price is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501-C-3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners Area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505 327-7870.