I recently received a tweet from the Huffington Post about the myth of marriage for a lifetime. Honestly, I didn’t even open the link because I am so tired of hearing how impossible it is to stay married to someone. With that mindset, I can see why. When divorce is a constant option, it keeps the idea on the table and in the minds of married couples. Perhaps we need a reframe–why marriage for a lifetime is possible!
Here are 10 helps to staying married:
1) Take time to explore family patterns and history before you marry. For example, it does matter if his father is an alcoholic. This means he grew up with specific interactional patterns that will need to be addressed because they will impact your relationship. It does matter if you have significant religious differences. It does matter if she does not get along with her mother. It does matter how he deals with conflict based on his original family, etc. Identifying family patterns and working on blending them makes a big difference.
2) Do premarital counseling. This helps to point out areas of vulnerability and strengths you have going in to the marriage. This way you can be intentional about change, accommodating one another and build on the positives.
3) Like your partner as a friend. When you strip away all the emotion and attraction feelings, do you like this person and want to spend time with him or her doing life? People can be very attracted to someone who would not make a good companion. Marital friendship is the building block of a strong marriage.
4) Make marriage a covenant, not just a contract. Enter marriage with the idea that this is an unbreakable promise–that you will fight to stay together and work through your problems. Be committed to one another for the long haul.
5) Go to marital counseling if the relationship begins to become more negative than positive. Don’t wait for years to get help.
6) Pray for your relationship and each other. Prayer is underrated as a powerful weapon against divorce.
7) Pay attention to your partner on a daily basis. Dont’ take the person for granted.
8) Say positive things to your partner daily. The power of praise can’t be overstated in terms of the impact it has on a relationship. Criticism is the beginning of a downward spiral.
9) Dont’ go to bed angry. Solve issues immediately and don’t allow bitterness and unforgiveness to grow.
10) Do novel things to keep love alive. Too many couples get in a rut and become bored with their relationship. Novelty brings back feelings of love and keeps things fresh.