Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making marriages work

Following on from my communication post yesterday, I thought this post from Jessica was really relevant. I've been married for 17 years and my honeymoon phase is just a long and distant memory so I could identify with everything she had to say.

5 Tips for a Mindful Marriage

Guest Blogger: Jessica Stilling is a freelance journalist who also writes on schooling online as well as taking classes online

So you still remember when the thought of that white dress made joyful butterflies bounce inside your stomach. You can still recall when dinner and a movie was the most passionate date on earth, but now, things are winding down. That honeymoon phase, the part before the kids became stressful and the job stepped in to take its proper place within the marriage, is coming to a close. This is a good thing, you’re not going to be living in fantasy love land forever and reality love land is just as enjoyable if you understand that reality love land is a different place from fantasy. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you exit that honeymoon phase and move on to the jobs and kids and school schedule phase of your journey together. I promise it will be just as good, if not better.

  1. Take time to communicate. When you and your spouse are standing across the great divide that is your kitchen in the morning, take a few seconds to discuss each other’s days, plan your schedules, see what the other might want to grab for dinner or watch on TV. You don’t have to be planning a romantic night out or discussing all the problems of the world to catch a few moments of couple time.

  2. Take time for yourself. Being a spouse and parent, an employee and a friend, or any of the other countless hats you wear, is going to take its toll. You have to learn to take time for yourself, even if it’s fifteen minutes after you get home from work before you start planning dinner. Take some time to reflect on your day on your own, this way you’ll be less stressed and more willing to deal with your family’s issues and your spouse’s needs.

  3. Take time for your spouse. Just like you should take time for yourself, you should take time for your spouse as well. Ask him how his day was, see if he wants to make any interesting plans. Let your spouse know that you’re listening, because it’s only when you’re truly listening that he’ll be willing to open up.

  4. Take time to cherish your family. Just like you need alone time and time with your spouse, your family will also bring you closer. Take time to watch the kids play on their floor if they’re very young, or go to your son’s basketball game together and have ice cream afterwards. This is the reason you’re together, this is what makes your life happy and so take time together to cherish it.

  5. Take time to understand and appreciate each other’s uniqueness. You did not marry a clone of yourself, in fact if you had, you’d probably not get along very well. Your spouse has a unique self, a self that you fell in love with because he was not like any of the other people that you’d ever known. Take time to cherish and understand that uniqueness. Also, allow your partner to see and understand the uniqueness in you. Sometimes as that honeymoon phase ends and life becomes life, we forget all the wonderful reasons we’re together, the reasons that are still prevalent if we take the time to see them.

One thread moves throughout these suggestions, time. Sometimes as life throws us curveballs and that job starts to take up more of our time, we forget to make time for the things that are really important. We forget to see the family that is right in front of us, or the husband who is also lover and confident and friend. It’s when we move through life, getting things done for the sake of getting them done, that we miss out on so much. That is why the key to a mindful marriage is making time for the marriage.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate ~ Barnett Brickner

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