My husband and I will celebrate eighteen years of marriage this month. As a result, I’ve been reflecting on the ways our relationship has grown and the challenges we’ve faced.
Like every couple, my husband and I have had our ups and downs. We’re still working on becoming better spouses, better lovers, better friends. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned about fairly universal traps that can trip up even the most committed and loving couples.
- Fail to communicate. I know, I know. You’ve heard this a million times, but that’s because it’s true. If you want to start an argument, expect your spouse to be a mind reader. When your spouse fails to intuit your needs, stew for an unspecified period of time, then pitch a fit. Remedy: Speak up early and often.
- Assume the worst motive. Whatever your spouse does or says, assume the most manipulative, underhanded, selfish reason you can for his/her action or inaction. Remedy: Give the benefit of the doubt.
- Don’t make intimacy a priority. Carve out time for yourself, your interests, and your work, but find excuses to put off or avoid intimacy/sex with your spouse. Nothing increases emotional distance between you and your spouse quicker and more effectively than physical estrangement. Remedy: Make the time.
- Forget why you married in the first place. All those happy endorphins flowing at the beginning of a relationship? Ancient history. Fail to remind yourself of the good qualities that attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Remedy: Date each other.
- Compare. Compare your spouse to others – in appearance, execution of household duties, parenthood, or career success. If you really want to sabotage your relationship, compare to members of your family of origin. Remedy: Your spouse is a unique individual. Treat him/her as such.
- Don’t ask about your spouse’s day. Don’t bother with a kiss at the door or an inquiry about what may have happened, good or bad. Demonstrate no interest in his/her day-to-day struggles and dilemmas. If it’s important, you’ll hear about it, right? Remedy: Take an interest in the little stuff.
- Stop all non-sexual touching. Hugs, kisses that don’t lead to anything more, neck massages, hand holding, foot rubs, playful swats. Cut. it. out. Reserve contact to copulation only. Remedy: Show affection outside of the bedroom.
- Stop sharing prayers, dreams, and goals. Those things are great, but keep them to yourself. They are individual pursuits. You needn’t bother your husband or wife with them. Remedy: Be unified in your aspirations.
- Sweat the small stuff. Let your thoughts be consumed with concern over daily distractions and frustrations. Worry about the little things that only last a season. Whatever you do, don’t make a habit of laughing together. Remedy: Don’t lose sight of the big picture.
- Make others your top priority. Your role as mother, father, son, artist, sister, friend, employee, etc. is more important than your role as husband or wife. Put your spouse anywhere but the top of that list. Then list your relationship with God even farther below. Remedy: After your relationship with God, make your marital relationship top priority
Do any of these sound familiar? What did I miss? What are some other behaviors that keep your marriage from being the most important, intimate, and fulfilling human relationship in your life?
You’re invited to my Easter Blog Party: Bonnets, Baskets, & Bunnies.
Visit now (April 5 through April 12) and take part in the Easter joy. Share your blog post of your family surrounded by Easter flowers on the church altar, cute kiddies in their Easter outfits, what the Easter Bunny used to fill your baskets, or bunnies – of the chocolate or live variety. Don’t have a blog? That’s okay. Let’s hear about your Easter in only ten words.