Last week I cited what I consider to be five of the Ten Commandments for Healthy Marriage. Here, as promised, are the next five. Again I remind you that these are just ten suggestions for marriage among dozens if not hundreds which could be considered. I’m hopeful that this will get you thinking what your top ten commandments for healthy marriage might be and that you’ll share them with me so I can share them with others.
- Thou shalt pick your hills to die on. In any marriage, there will be ample times to disagree and get upset with one another. In my humble opinion, some of these disagreements are serious enough that they merit earnest, respectful confrontation.
There will be many other disputes, however, that are more indicative of one or the other’s present mood than an actual threat to the marriage. These, I suggest, are better off ignored and allowed to pass away – which they will if you don’t make too big a deal out of it. So it’s a good idea to decide what issues are worth fighting for and which are best relegated to the “let it go” pile.
- Thou shalt “Think Win-Win” in all marital decisions. Fans of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People will recognize this commandment. A healthy marriage is one in which both parties feel they have a voice and that their concerns matter.
If you end a dispute or disagreement with your spouse feeling you won, and they lost then trust me, you haven’t won anything. You are on the same team, so unless the matter is resolved to each one’s satisfaction, there is no winner. If you view your marriage as a competition that in itself is a likely warning signal.
- Thou shalt “Seek First to Understand Your Mate, Then to be Understood by Him or Her.” This is based on Habit Five of the Seven Habits. While it is good for individual growth, it is also an exceptional practice in the home.
You have a deep seated desire to be understood by others. That goes double for the person to whom you are married. He or she doesn’t always have to agree with you, but he/she must demonstrate that they care enough about you to be willing to understand your point of view.
Since you have this strong desire to be understood, do you think there might be a fair chance your partner has the same desire? So take turns. Rather than insisting that your mate understand you first let them explain how they see things before you give him or her your version.
- Thou shalt invest regularly in your mate’s “love bank” account. This concept comes from Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs and many other wonderful marriage enriching books. When you and your spouse first met you began to interact in fun ways. These didn’t have to be expensive or grandiose. Just being together and doing things together was enough.
You enjoyed each other’s company and did nice gestures to each other. These gestures are what Harley would call “deposits in the love bank.” Silly cards, doing errands, leaving notes, baking cookies, etc.
Over time you also began to make withdrawals which caused a decrease in the love bank balance. That’s a topic for a future article, but for now, let me suggest you concentrate on making deposits which your spouse would consider a deposit and do your best to avoid making withdrawals.
- Thou shalt love your spouse unconditionally. If I were to ask you why do you love your spouse you might list some of his or her attributes or their personality or their character. But what if illness or accident removed some of these qualities? Would your love for them then also disappear? Sadly this is often the case because most love is conditional.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but to love unconditionally makes it much easier to put up with the petty annoyances that your mate will cause you to experience from time to time. Unconditional love is a solid protection against the attacks which will come your way seeking to undermine the security of your marriage.
If you missed the first five commandments and would like to see what they are please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll gladly send you a copy of the post. Also, I again ask those of you who have successful, notice I didn’t say perfect, marriages to send me your tips and pointers so that others may benefit from your contributions. We all have a vested interest in preserving and strengthening marriage in our area, so I thank you in advance for your help.
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 email@example.com or 505 327-7870.