If you’ve ever owned a car for some time, you’ve probably had it repaired for some reason.
Just recently, I had problems with my own ride. I was in a rush last week to leave for an appointment when the engine refused to start. Flustered, I struggled with it for almost half an hour until I gave up and took a cab instead.
When I took my car to the shop that weekend, the mechanic told me that the culprit was a busted fuel filter which I should have replaced two months ago.
After they got my car up and running again, my trusty mechanic gave me a piece of advice: “Instead of waiting for something to break down, save yourself some trouble and bring in your car for regular check-ups, OK?”
I couldn’t disagree; instead of taking the time to make a minor change, I ended up spending more than I should have.
Going home, a thought occurred to me. In many ways, relationships – especially marriages - work in the same manner. Keeping the machinery of your relationship running smoothly is a daily, on-going priority.
With the essential tips below, you can save yourselves a trip to the junkyard of broken-down marriages (a.k.a. divorce):
#1: Get A Life (Outside Of Your Marriage):
Although spending time together is crucial (as we covered in the last article), it’s just as important to have some time away from your spouse as well.
Even if you’re committed to each other for life, it’s ok NOT to be together ALL the time. In fact, we recommend that you find the time to go off and pursue your individual passions.
Don’t forget that your individual personalities make you click as a couple. If your individuality fades into the relationship, it will have a negative impact on your marriage.
In time, both of you might end up thinking, “Where was the fun, unique person I married?” This is one of the things that can diminish the spark in your relationship.
Having common interests is fine, but for the sake of your sanity you should also have your own hobbies – especially those that you had BEFORE becoming a couple.
No couple is expected to spend every second of their lives together. If you don’t want to end up at each other’s throats, you need to take the occasional break.
This helps maintain the identity which your spouse fell in love with in the first place. Growth outside of relationship is actually necessary to preserving the mutual fondness within the relationship.
However, don’t shut each other out when you attend to your respective interests. At the end of the day, let your spouse know what you’ve been up to.
In the long run, it’s enormously beneficial to create the opportunity to miss each other. After you’ve given yourselves enough “me time”, you’ll be excited to come home and share your individual experiences with your spouse.
Tip #3: Take care of yourself
As the cliché goes, the only thing permanent in this world is change. No matter how advanced technology gets, our bodies change and getting older is inevitable.
This means issues like weight gain, illnesses and overall health maintenance are everyone’s concern. This is why it’s your responsibility to look out for your well-being all throughout your life.
We can do plenty to keep ourselves looking and feeling good. Regular exercise, eating right, wearing the right clothes for you and finding ways to de-stress are some of the basics to keep yourself in great shape, inside-out.
On two levels, your spouse will appreciate the fact that your appearance and health is important to you. First, looking good for your partner will rekindle his or her attraction for you. Also, staying healthy and happy means you’re more capable of taking care of your family.
When you treat yourself with value, it improves your general outlook on life as well as your marriage and loved ones. You'll be much more pleasant to be around and the positive vibes will have a good impact on the household.
Tip #4: Respect each other
In the heat of an argument, it’s tempting for anyone to raise their voice or use hurtful words to get even. While we’re well aware that this is a big marriage no-no, our anger can get the best of us and cause to lose respect for our spouse.
To help you maintain the level of respect during a disagreement, try to remember that the point of arguing is NOT to attack each other’s character. Rather, the objective to get both sides of the story on the table and use that to reach a compromise – or at the very least, agree to disagree.
If you can’t help yourself from criticizing your partner, stick to the tips we discussed in my previous post (review #3 in particular).
Contrary to what you might think, there is such a thing as constructive criticism! It all boils down to which points to focus on and how to frame your statements as objectively as possible.
Don’t underestimate the power of words. The right ones can help you arrive at a compromise, while the wrong ones may cause emotional wounds and breed contempt.
When in doubt, take a second to ask yourself: “Would I still say it if I WASN’T angry?”
The Long Road Ahead
Habits – or actions we do repeatedly – are what define us as individuals. The same can be said about a couple, and their relationship in particular.
Wouldn't it make sense to PREVENT problems before they occur? If you knew one of your car’s tires had a slow leak, would you keep on driving until you ran a flat?
Your marriage is like that in many ways. Though you might not be able to see 10 or 20 years down the road, a habit of pro-active maintenance ensures your marriage will still be in good shape when that time comes.
Your present marital habits are an investment for the future of your marriage – which ones will YOU practice today?