And then one day, in the middle of a fight (in which I actually head-butted him!), we just stopped. Somehow we decided it was worth too much to throw it all away. But it couldn't stay the way it was... we had to find a way to make it fun again.
With the help of counseling and wonderful friends who
told us when we were being idiots to each other supported us, I can honestly say we've done that. So, in honor of our 12th anniversary this week, here's a baker's dozen of the most helpful things we've found to make marriage fun, despite life's challenges:
- Remember that there is an enemy in your marriage, and your spouse is not him.
- Laugh. A lot. If you forget how, rent stand-up comedy DVD's.
- Have a regular date night that only gets canceled if someone's in the ER.
- Get counseling. Or coaching. Something that gives you a safe place to fight and heal.
- Go on double dates. It's date night with added laughter and conversation variety!
- Spend the first 4 minutes every day cuddling together. Alone. This reminds everyone in the house your marriage is the priority.
- Have sex. Often. More than just when you "feel like it." Schedule it if you have to!
- Every once in a while, ask each other four things: What does your spouse want you to do more of? Less of? Start doing? Stop doing? Never assume you know each other's minds completely.
- For long-standing disagreements, find a way to take care of your needs. We fought for years about me wanting more help around the house. It wasn't his forte, so we made adjustments and I hired a part-time sitter/home helper. It ended that resentment issue between us.
- Censor marital advice (i.e. ignore naysayers). Surround yourself with people who value your marriage as much as you do.
- Decide to stay. I packed my things more than once, and each time I just decided I'd stay one more week. If there's no abuse, glue your feet to the floor if you have to. Just stay.
- The way you act in first three months of a big change isn't indicative of the rest of your life together. So don't freak out when you're both funky around a new baby, new job, relocation, death or illness.
- Get away every once in a while for at least 24 hours. Priceline makes it really reasonable!
If your marriage is ok and you want it to be truly great, what do you need to get there?
I'd love to help you find answers through individual coaching, or point you in the direction of great resources to cultivate the marriage you really want. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.