Whether you just got married not too long ago or if you are already married for sometime, it is imperative that you know the following 11 rules by heart. Remind each other to abide by the rules. Stick to them like your entire life depends on it. That would save you from lots of heartache and prevent you from getting into squabbles that have wrecked too many marriages.
While there are certainly many other rules, this is the foundation and without it, you would find yourself having to battle it out every now and then. Whereas staying true to these rules will help you have better understanding of each other.
1) Work through everything as a teamNever leave anything (even if it pertains to only one partner) to that one partner to handle it singlehandedly.
Always remember that now that you’re married, you’re a team. A team in everything. What this means for you is that whatever burdens you have carried with you, it’s now going to be halved. It’s going to be shared. You’re no longer alone.
Facing everything together, be it challenges or exciting progressive tasks, when the load is lighter, you will end up performing better and you will be able to go through it with happiness and peace.
Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Activity: Make a list of all of your challenges - both of yours. Then tick those that you have mostly been handling yourself. Discuss with each other how the other partner can get involved in his/her own capacity to lighten your load and help you with it. It can be as easy as being an encourager and listener.
2) Angry? Forgive first, then clarify
I get it. How can we forgive when we are angry right? But this is as much a mental exercise as it is an emotional exercise.
Try this the next time you get angry: pause and don’t say a word until you have found enough excuses for your partner. No matter how hard it is, do all you can to find at least 3 excuses for your partner for whatever it is that you are angry about.
Then, approach the topic and see how it takes off in a sea of calm.
Let me tell you how it might turn out of if you had let the overwhelming rage in you to propel you towards confronting your partner:
You would have started the topic by accusing your partner, which would anger your partner and instead of getting clarity, you just end up arguing which does not solve anything but just lands you guys in tougher trouble to get out of. Not worth your energy.
Keep in mind that you married with the promise of being there for each other, and never against each other. But we all know that there are absolutely no marriages without petty quarrels. If we know how to handle ourselves objectively, not only our married lives will be successful but every aspect our lives will begin to see progression.
3) Build trust by having nothing to hide
We all know what suspicion leads to. In marriage, the veils are lifted and you too have accepted each other for who you really are. There is nothing to hide.
The interesting thing is that, the more you hide - the more suspicion will grow. Even if the thing that you are hiding may seem trivial to you.
In order to be courageous about being honest with every detail in your life, you need to first understand what angers your partner.
Maybe you are tempted to hide stuff that you know angers your partner but you insist on continuing to do those stuff. If that is the case, if you can, drop it and show your partner how much you value him/her. But if it is something you genuinely feel shouldn’t anger your partner, discuss it openly with him/her, explaining in detail why you are discussing it in the first place. Say why you want to do it though it might anger him. Reach amicable solutions instead of hiding anything or just simply trying to run away from reality.
Confront differences openly. Never avoid it. Never have anything to hide. If both partners can adhere to this principle religiously, there is no reason for even subtle feelings of betrayal to arise and create animosity.
4) Continue to pursue your individual interests
Do you have individual interests? Great! You never have to sacrifice your individuality in marriage. In fact, experts say that maintaining a certain level of your individuality in marriage will actually be beneficial to your marriage.1
While it is true that marriage requires some sacrifices but it never requires you to sacrifice your entire unique self.
Continuing to pursue your individual interests, be it reading, swimming, golf, will only make you a happier person who would in turn be emotionally available for your spouse. This can only make your marriage healthier.
5) Go on a date, just the 2 of you, at least once a week
This is for those of you who are living with children or other family members. Make time for date nights where only the two of you can talk about anything under the sky.
This is a practice to keep the flame alive. Do it regularly and you will find that your understanding, overall happiness and inner peace all improves.
6) Express appreciation for every little thing
When you are in the dating stage or you just got married, maybe saying “Thank you” is very common. But when the rigors of everyday life set in, sometimes we can forget to appreciate the little things. They add up.
Just try saying “thank you, I appreciate it” to your spouse for cleaning up a minor spill or for making you breakfast or even for just helping to cover you with a blanket, and watch your spouse’s face blossom.
Do that everyday, and there is no reason why your hearts won’t grow fonder.
7) Apologize readily when you fall short
And also, just learn to apologize even if you’re not sure. There is no place for ego in a marriage. Actually, there is no place for ego in any relationship.
To make it work for the long term, practice saying “sorry”.
This would make your spouse feel that you value him/her and never want to hurt them - which is obvious but just needs reinforcing in the course of a relationship. After all, most fights/arguments begin when one spouse feels unfairly treated.
If you practice saying “sorry”, this feeling would cease to exist. In place of it, your spouse will have absolute confidence in you and this can only make your marriage stronger.
8) Always be doing something of interest together
While it’s important to have your individual interests, it’s also important to always be doing something that interests the both of you - on a regular basis.
It can be as basic as watching movies in the cinema, cafe hopping or traveling. But the key is to keep doing together the stuff which makes both of you equally excited.
When you have a common interest, chances are, you end up doing a lot of things together with passion and enthusiasm - like planning, talking about your interest, or attending events related to your interest.
Studies also show that couples who pursue common interests together tend to live happier and more fulfilled lives.
9) Never share your challenges with unqualified third persons
This one, many of us neglect. Now with the advent of social media, we are so used to posting every detail about our lives. While it’s more of a habit to share only the highlight reel, never fall into the trap of ever sharing your random relationship bad days with anyone who is not qualified to help you - on social media or otherwise.
The problem is, when we tell someone like a friend who we think just means well, we are actually opening our doors to unwanted opinions, fear mongering and further confusion.
All of us lead unique lives in unique family situations. Your “trusted friend” or “family member” might end up giving you advice that is fit only her world view and situation. Act on that advice without thinking through, and you might exacerbate your problem.
The thing is, the only one who knows your spouse and your family best is you. Not your neighbor, not your trusted friend, not your family member. Never give up this crown of honor.
Unless it’s got to do with physical, mental or emotional harm, try not to share your random bad days with others. They might just make it seem more bad than it actually is.
10) Protect yourself from toxic influences
You know when you see a toxic person. The kind whose life is always dreadful. Nothing seems to work out in their lives and they are always complaining.
Even when they see you, they assume that something must also not be right in your life and they try to dig it out.
Remember: misery loves company.
We are not talking about plastic positivity here but seriously, if you take the time to notice, and if you know these people for a few years, you would soon realize that the stuff they used to complain about still exists and they are still just complaining about them.
They are just complainers. They do not want to ever solve any of their issues. Complaining and drama is their comfort zone. They have grown to love complaining and drama and they seek out people to continue dwelling in this realm. Even if you meet them several years down the road, if they do not make a change, nothing will change.
Stay away from them. They might only help you create drama in your head where drama didn’t even exist in the first place.
11) Make financial goals and plans together and stick to them as a team
According to a survey, most couples in the US suffer relationship stress because of financial reasons.2 If you look at why it happens, it’s probably because both partners are not on the same page when it comes to finances. In the long run, this can be extremely detrimental.
Do you both know how much each of you earns and your monthly expenditures? Can you both agree on what are the things that your money should be spent on? If these things are not sorted out from the beginning, it will become a time bomb just waiting to explode in your face. Don’t be caught by surprise. Discuss, plan.
Write out both your incomes, write out both your expenses (individual and combined), write out your saving goals, write out your future plans, work it all out, and stay within the boundaries both of you created together. If one of you slips from the plan at any one point, work it out together and help each other to stay on track. This is another powerful way to stick together and grow together.
To many more successful families,
from Secret Love Notes
1 Foley, T. (2013). You (don't) complete me: A healthier understanding of oneness in marriage. Focus on the Family (Canada) Association.↩
2 Holland, K. (2015, February 4). Fighting with your spouse? It's probably about this. CNBC.↩