Earlier this week my wife and I celebrated 40 years together as husband and wife. It wasn’t always smooth or perfect. We’ve faced many of the problems that married couples encounter but we’ve gotten through them. I’m not a marriage expert by any means but I do have a bit of practical experience. Here are a few tips, in no particular order, that I can offer. Many of them I learned the hard way, through pain and suffering. but I’m a better person for it.
- Love each other unconditionally. This doesn’t mean you’ll always agree or that you won’t get on each other’s nerves but always have love for one another.
- Respect one another. Respect the differences of opinion, of culture, and in perspective.
- No one is in charge; you are equal partners.
- Nurture and support each other. Encourage and support their interests, their aspirations, their careers.
- Cooperate with one another and be willing to compromise. Share the housekeeping duties and chores. Raise your children as a team.
- Communicate openly, honestly, and kindly. Avoid secrets.
- Take care of each other, always, no matter what.
- Always remember that it’s what you do for each other that makes you happy and it’s what you do to each other that makes you unhappy. Do things for each other without any conditions attached or any expectation of reward. Do them out of love.
I’ve read in books by one marriage expert that a couple should spend at least 15 hours to give each other their full attention without the distractions of children, friends, relatives, television, or whatever. He also advises that you shouldn’t have activities or interests that don’t involve your spouse. I tend to disagree. I think it’s important to have time as a couple in which you focus on each other but 15 hours a week may be overdoing it. I also think it’s good to have time away from your spouse and to pursue separate interests. I think the key thing is to communicate and to hold no secrets about what you’re doing.