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
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