Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is marriage. Now I know that marriage can be difficult, and I know that a lot of people don't really tell you how hard it can be before you get married. It seems that I keep hearing more and more that people are choosing to get divorced. It breaks my heart. I know that people will never know what truly goes on behind closed doors, and from an outsiders view, we never understand the full story. There is 2 sides to every story, and no one is perfect. I made a list of 10 things to do to strengthen a marriage. The reason I am sharing this is out of love. I wish I would have known of people struggling before it got to divorce, and I wish I could have been brave enough to share some thoughts.Whether helpful or not, these are just the top 10 things that to me, make my marriage special.
1. Something that I wish to share with people is to always have the gospel be the focal point in your marriage. Without the foundation of the gospel, it is hard to see eye to eye and to fully view the big picture. Without the gospel it is easy to have your thoughts turn inward, and it is easy to become selfish.
2. That leads me to my next thought of always putting your spouse first. Whenever I have noticed that I have been so concerned with my self, I realized that I wasn't making Derek happy, and I realized that my marriage was not as strong as it could have been. Every day I set a goal, and I ask myself the question, "What can I do to make Derek happy today?" I start every days with this thought, and I always try to make an effort, big or small to go out of my way to make sure that he knows I love him and that I would do anything for him. It doesn't have to be anything huge, send a cute text, or make their favorite meal. Just so that he knows that I am thinking about him and I care about him. Whenever I have been selfless in my marriage, everything has worked itself out and ran smoothly.
3. Don't be your spouse's parent, be their spouse. All anyone wants is love. I am pretty sure that Derek doesn't care if the house isn't perfectly clean, but he cares about my support and love. Don't talk down to your spouse, realize that everyone has unique quirks, and no one is perfect. Don't be demeaning or try to tell them how to run their lives. Marriage is equal, and you are both there to make each other better.
4. Sometimes you need to put everything aside and just focus on your marriage. There are nights when I have dishes to do, homework to be done, and laundry to be washed, but instead of doing the small things I spend the time with Derek. We talk and share thoughts, we cuddle, and we are there for each other. Sometimes after these experiences I am able to go back to life and face the challenges that it presents, while knowing that my marriage is strong and solid.
5. Think before you react. Yes, sometimes people are annoying, and sometimes as human beings we are judgmental. Rather than freaking out over the small annoyances of the world, hold your tongue. If you and your spouse have a disagreement, cool off when so you can have a clear mind and a better understanding of the situation. Don't put your spouse down because you are heated in the moment, be mature and talk it through at a time when you can think clearly.
6. Laugh together, flirt together, and take care of yourself. Go out of your way to flirt with your husband, have a laughing tickling fight, and get ready for the day. I know there are a lot of moms out there who don't have a lot of time in the day to put on cute clothes, or try a new hair do, but to be honest, the times that we do go out of our way to look cute for our husbands, they notice. When we feel good about ourselves, it really does make a difference of the way that we act around others.
7. When you have a problem, don't run away from your spouse, run to them. This is so crucial. When we run to others and share deep personal experiences, we grow stronger relationships with those around us, and connect to them. Instead, we need to be having those intimate experiences with our spouse, and we need to resolve the problems with them. If you have a problem with your spouse, run to them. Resolve the problem then and there, don't run away from it and grow further away from your spouse.
8. Back to my number 1 about having the gospel in your marriage, pray together. When we pray together it strengthens our relationship, and I feel so much closer to Derek. When I hear Derek pray I feel as though I am hearing a small portion of his testimony. I realize more and more each day how important it is to have the priesthood in my home, and I am eternally grateful for Derek being worthy to hold the priesthood and having that sweet spirit in my home.
9. Let your husband have his "guy time", and let yourself have your "girl time". Derek and I both need that outlet sometimes. It is so fun to have friends that you connect with, and friends that share your same interests. Sometimes I get my girly nail painting, chick flicks, and girl chats out of the way, so that I can come back to my spouse and be refreshed.
10. Stay interested in each other's interests, and allow yourself and your spouse to have an outlet. Make sure not to get too involved in your talents/outlets, but allow yourself to feel good about yourself. For instance, I started dancing again about a year ago, and it has been such a blessing!! I have loved having an outlet and having something that I feel passionate about, but I only do it a couple hours a week. My marriage will always come first. Something that I love is when Derek compliments me on my dancing, and he loves it when I try to understand about building, fixing, guns, motorcycles,etc. It is so fun to learn new things with Derek, and see his eyes light up when it is something that he is so passionate about. Don't ever try to take something away from your spouse. Embrace it and ask questions about it. While still being clear that it is not the focus of your marriage.
I am so grateful for my marriage, and I am so grateful for what I have. My heart hurts for others who are not so fortunate. I wish that I could be brave enough and let people know that marriage is hard, and they don't need to hide how difficult it is, or how bad they are aching inside when they are struggling. I know that everyone has different situations, stories, and experiences, and not every marriage is going to work out. I hope that if people are ever struggling in their marriage they can focus on the big picture and not sweat the small stuff. To those who are divorced or going through divorces, I know that that is a whole other ball game. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to go through something like that, and I hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you can stay strong and get through it, and I hope that there is something better waiting for you in the end. Marriage is a touchy subject, but I am blogging about it now because I wish I would have shared some of these thoughts earlier with people before things got so bad. I never know who is struggling and who is doing great!!! It's hard to know what to say when people go through these challenging times, but I will always be supportive and loving, and do my best be be understanding and try to say the right things. I hope you blogging buddies are all doing well!! Feel free to share your marriage thoughts with me, and things that you have found to strengthen your own marriages! I always love to hear comments!