“If you go into a marriage thinking you’re going to change the other person, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”
I don’t often write about my marriage. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about it.
It takes work. It hasn’t been all roses and kittens but we do have a wonderful life together and have built a solid partnership.
The lessons we’re learning have set us up for a lifetime of love.
Don’t be a wallflower. Have an opinion, share it, and be open to feedback from your spouse. One of the many things I love about Ashley is that I can ask her questions and get an educated and thought-out response. We bounce ideas off each other all the time.
Nobody’s right all the time.
One of the reasons our marriage is so solid is that we really are partners. Ashley doesn’t get her way all the time and neither do I. If that were the case, either we’d have big screen TVs in every room or closets full of barely worn shoes.
Every time I hear someone say something to the effect of “The woman is always right” I think, “How stupid.” You may disagree but don’t be childish. Ashley and I respect each other too much to give in to the other one all the time just because one of us gets cranky. Be adults, have respect, live happy.
Listen and pay attention.
I need to do a better job of paying attention. I think we all do. Stop reading your RSS feed for half a second, put down the phone, and have a conversation.
Have you ever met a couple who didn’t communicate?
I have. They didn’t last long.
Include one another in important decisions.
I’m so lucky to have married a smart woman. Well, in truth, it’s not luck; it was planned. I wouldn’t have married a person I couldn’t count on and trust.
Ashley and I talk about most decisions and we value each others’ opinions. Though we think very differently, we use our differences as assets when it comes to making decisions. She sees things I don’t see and vice versa.
Make your spouse feel special.
If you’re doing the other things on this list, this one will be a given. Make time for date nights, and make your spouse a priority.
Spend time together, but not every waking moment.
We spend time watching TV, talking and even playing a few video games together.
A while ago, I made the decision to spend more money on activities Ashley and I can do together and less money on things I’d end up doing alone. I’d recommend doing that if you find you’re constantly buying things you know you’ll end up using by yourself.
Spend time with one another but give each other space. We both enjoy watching TV, but she has her shows and I have mine.
Take vacations together.
If you have kids, this can be much more difficult. However, with planning and putting a little thought into it, you could make it happen if you wanted.
A couple of years ago, right after buying my new(ish) car, Ashley and I took a road trip east to the Great Smokey Mountains. The trip took four or five days and it was awesome! We ended up spending more time in the car than we did at the hotel, but it was a blast.
Include one another in your hobbies, activities and adventures.
I’m definitely not suggesting you have to do everything together. In fact, I think spending every waking moment with your spouse is a huge mistake.
That being said, including Ashley in the development of my business, especially my podcast, has been one of the smartest things I’ve done in a while. Her feedback is insightful and her ideas help me out a ton.
If you include your spouse in what you’re doing, your chances of success are much greater and you’re much more likely to enjoy what you’re doing.
Love your spouse for who they are, not who you think they should be.
If you go into a marriage thinking you’re going to change the other person, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Think jumping out of an airplane without a parachute kind of failure.
Think trying to stop a train with your car kind of failure.
It won’t work and you’re going to get everyone hurt in the process. While I do believe people can change, it’s usually not because their spouse convinced them to do so.
Don’t marry someone you don’t like.
We’ve all met them – the couples who should never have gotten married in the first place. Maybe its money, lust, or the fear of living alone, but some people should never marry each other.
They say “opposites attract.” However, they also say,”birds of a feather flock together.”
Don’t build a marriage based on clichés. Marry someone you like.
Lastly, as Jim Stovall said on my podcast, this life we’re living isn’t a test run. We only get one shot at it. Make the most of your life and your marriage.
Question: What has been your key to a happy marriage? Please share in the comments section
Photo: Courtesy of author
Originally published as 10 Things I Learned from 4 Years of Marriage.