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  • Unsolicited marriage advice

    Jeff and I often are asked about our marriage. We are great friends and partners in life despite enormous stresses in our 12 years of marriage. We don’t pretend to be experts but we have received several emails and facebook messages asking for advice so we are happy to give you some simple things that work for us.

    1. Public praise, private criticism. This is the best advice my dad ever gave me. I do not speak unkindly about Jeff. Period. I’m not going to belittle him even if it makes me fit in on the topic of the day at work or when dining with my girlfriends. Jeff always says that my friends think he’s perfect because I only tell everyone the good stuff. Great! That means I’m doing my job as his wife, friend, and his greatest fan.
    My guess is you can name more people who criticize their spouse versus build them up. I think we have the power to change that fact.

    2. 3rd time is not a charm, it’s nagging. Ask your spouse to put the Christmas lights up once. Then possibly repeat a second request, assuming he/she didn’t hear you. But the third time is merely nagging. So get out the ladder and start putting the lights up, even if you are 8 months pregnant. Chances are when he drives up and sees you on the ladder, he will take over. I will not admit if this is a true story. See tip #1.

    3. Go on a weekly date. This is an non-negotiable date for us. When our dates are postponed, our communication level seems to plummet. We tend to become focused on managing our home and children instead of meeting the needs of each other.
    To build on this, we are working hard at adding variety into our dating life. Instead of just catching a movie, we are going rock climbing, exploring new restaurants, hiking new trails, and having a picnic. Our dates are also free from cell phone use and include very limited conversations about our children.

    4. Give it up. Yes, I just wrote that. It’s not rocket science friends. It’s a physical and emotional need for both partners and I truly believe that you get out what you put in. That pertains to quantity and quality from both spouses.

    5. Encourage each other’s interests. Jeff has been interested in golf, triathlons, poker, and cycling in our marriage. And I haven’t met a hobby or sport that doesn’t excite or intrigue me. Where we have really gelled together is that we are excited for each other to explore our own interests.
    I asked Jeff to teach me how to play poker so that I could talk to him about his hobby. I biked 80 miles with Jeff on several occasions just to spend time with him while he was training for the Ironman.
    In return, Jeff has been my greatest supporter with my life list and this blog. This blog was a gift from Jeff merely because he listened to a 2 AM conversation in which I spoke of my dream to start living intentionally and writing more.

    6. Laugh. Jeff and I laugh A LOT. This has been a huge refuge for us during the past decade. We send each other emails with jokes or Youtube videos we discover. We love comedy movies and have enjoyed several dates to comedy clubs/concerts. We also surround ourselves with friends who enjoy laughing as well.

    7. Don’t give others unsolicited marriage advice. Unless asked, Jeff and I don’t give people unsolicited advice on marriage or parenting EVER. Instead we offer our friends (and strangers) grace. We aren’t perfect and can always learn from others, even if it is the lesson of what we don’t want as spouses or parents. You can really offend and hurt people with giving unsolicited advice. This includes your family members and adult children. Even despite your best intentions, you will create additional barriers by inserting your opinions.

    Remember that tomorrow morning is the gratitude link up. Looking forward to reading your posts!

    Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

    If you are new to my site, welcome! I would love for you to follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog at the top of this post and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.




    Great post, Jenny!

    I think a good marriage is like a savings account; the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

    I used to be so guilty of talking about my husband when I was angry, trying to feel justified in my opinions and get people on “my side”. But I hated to hear other women trash their husbands, and I realized I was doing just that. Big eye-opener; once I started praising him, I realized just how MANY good qualities he really has.

    Thanks for sharing!

    24 May 2012 at 5:26 am Reply

      Yes- I agree Heather. Jeff and my son Ben crawl into their shells when belittled or criticized. Affirming words are essential for both of my men.

      24 May 2012 at 11:06 am Reply

    I’m not married, so my opinion on this is that of an outsider. I have lots of friends who are married so I’m party to lots of those ‘oh my husband/significant other is worse than yours’ conversations. That doesn’t make me want to change my single status much! But I have one particular friend whose relationship seems to shine. She and her husband consider themselves to be a team. Like any good sports team would, they totally root for each other and talk each other up in public. And like any sports team, they say their success is due to hard work, they work hard at their marriage, recognising each other’s strengths and areas to develop. And yes, they have their difficult times, but when she confides in me as a close friend about this, she doesn’t complain about her husband and his faults, but will say things like they’re having some communications problems that they need to work out. I love that about them.

    24 May 2012 at 6:10 am Reply

      That is awesome Jules. I have so much respect for couples like this – they are rare.
      When I hear wives and husbands compliment their spouses my ears just perk up. It’s such a lovely sound to hear.

      24 May 2012 at 11:10 am Reply
    Beth Cole

    Much wisdom here, Jenny, thanks for sharing. I especially like laughing together – so important! God willing we will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, all due to His grace. I always think marriage is a partnership between two good forgivers. Blessings to you!

    24 May 2012 at 6:11 am Reply

      “A partnership between 2 good forgivers.” Beautiful. Yes, if I left anything out it would be to offer more grace than you think necessary. There truly is no such thing as too much grace.

      24 May 2012 at 11:11 am Reply


    Fabulous advice for any relationship! This is a post that I will reread and reread many times. When are you getting a book deal?-LOL.

    24 May 2012 at 8:23 am Reply

      Thanks Betsy. When the book deal is in the works, you’ll be one of the first to know. :)

      24 May 2012 at 11:12 am Reply
    Suzanne E. Daly

    Very good article Jenny! I am going to print this and keep it in a place I can go back and reread often!

    24 May 2012 at 11:36 am Reply

      Great idea. I have a wall in my office full of inspiring posts and pictures. It’s actually getting a little out of control but it helps me immensely.

      24 May 2012 at 5:49 pm Reply
    Stacey K

    I am very guilty of #1. Time to make a change to that. Great advice.

    24 May 2012 at 4:07 pm Reply

      100% guilty with my first marriage and I regretted it for years. It truly has been the best gift Jeff and I have given each other.

      24 May 2012 at 5:50 pm Reply

        I’m guilty of #1 and so is my husband. I’m pretty sure that’s one (of the many) reasons we are currently seperated. I plan to use this list to help see if we can fix things.

        thanks Jenny

        25 May 2012 at 9:01 am Reply

          Jeff and I are rooting for you. Remember to offer each other lots of grace. And just when you think you’ve offered enough grace, offer more. That’s truly the tip I forgot off this list.
          Grace and public praise make judgment and criticism much more difficult.
          Thanks for sharing your heart Jamie.

          25 May 2012 at 9:39 pm Reply
    Jessica B

    Another great post! Some things I already do in my marriage and some I am going to start doing for sure!

    25 May 2012 at 3:59 pm Reply

      Awesome Jessica! Laugh, praise, and offer grace and you will see blessings in your marriage. Have an amazing weekend.

      25 May 2012 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Your advice is spot on. I agree with all your points. I adopted #1 a long while ago as well. I found that I didn’t like how others interpreted my stories so I stopped. I am still working on the praising but I definitely don’t criticise in public for that matter don’t criticise at all.
    Very happy that you shared.

    28 May 2012 at 10:01 am Reply

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