In my article last week, I shared a few basics I considered to be important for those persons who were either considering nuptials or who have already taken that huge step. Here are a few more tips I have gained from observing other marriages and some from my own marriage.
I recently attended the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for the parents of one of my dearest friends. From all reports before, during, and after that celebration, they had and still have a happy marriage. They spoke about the fact that their marriage was not perfect but that they worked at it and continue to work at it, and that the success thereof was due to their belief in God and their commitment to Him and each other.
Tip #1– Commit your marriage to God. For me, there is no other option I can offer as a substitute as I firmly believe that this is the foundation of any good marriage. Many sceptics may say that the divorce rate in the church is just as bad as that outside the church. Unfortunately, that is true and perhaps those were marriages that should never have been, or involved persons who had, in their opinion, good reasons to end the marriage.
Tip #2– Wives should make sure they continue to look attractive to their husbands. Too often, we as women, once we have put on the ring, stop with trips to the salon and putting effort into our outfits. Then sadly, when the husband’s eyes and heart stray, we wonder why. Let me hasten to add that whilst there is nothing justifiable about infidelity, there are contributing factors.
Tip #3– Husbands should make sure that they continue to chase their wives and allow them to know both by their actions and speech, that the wives are foremost in their minds. The complaint of many a wife seems to be that her husband does not treat her as a priority. Thoughtfulness, affection and acts of kindness are ways in which husbands can demonstrate their love.
Tip #4– Both husbands and wives should make an effort to spend time together… without interfering relatives… and demanding children… and insistent team leaders. Whilst society has changed drastically and the extended family unit is not as prominent a feature in today’s homes, couples must find creative ways to enjoy each other. Perhaps you can schedule a monthly date night on the date of your anniversary; join an exercise class together; ship the children off to grandparents and spend a weekend at home doing nothing; go for a drive around the island and have a picnic for two; shower together or do whatever makes the two of you happy in each other’s company.
Some might say in these challenging economic times these things seem low on the list of things on which money should be spent. On the contrary, it is about quality time and not extravagance. One of my most memorable dates with my husband was in the car park of a supermarket one evening, where we sat in the car, eating a pack of biscuits and drinking box juices and simply talking and laughing. That date cost us less than six dollars but was significant enough to last 15 years in the annals of my mind.
Tip #5– Support the interests of your partner. Your husband might be an avid cricket player and for fun he wants to watch local matches or a few games on the television from time to time. As far as you are concerned, cricket is the most jejune sport that ever existed in history and should not be allowed to take up airtime. A wife might take simple pleasure in walking through a mall looking at clothes and household items, which might be a mind-numbing exercise for a husband. However, for the sake of the marriage, a compromise should be reached and once in a while, some interest should be shown in the other person’s hobby.
Tip #6– Have your own hobbies. Whilst in the Bible it says that the two shall become one, it should not be interpreted that where one is seen the other must always be. A good marriage allows for differences in personality. I am resolute that celebrating these differences rather than fighting about them, allows for growth and development. Whoever said that absence makes the heart grow fonder knew about what he or she was speaking.
Tip #7 – Always seek to make your partner happy. If each person in a marriage spends time and money on looking after the needs of the other, a harmonious existence subsequently blossoms. One of the root causes of separation and eventual divorce, if we are honest with ourselves, is selfishness.
Tip #8– One should never make his or her spouse appear small in public. I have been in settings where wives lamented the shortcomings of their husbands and husbands berated their wives. Sadly, the partner receiving the negative comments seemed to shrink under the assault. In addition, arguments are to be had in private. Enough said!
Tip #9– Learn from your mistakes and those of others. If you discover that a particular action produces negative effects, swiftly make a change.
Tip #10– Don’t sweat the small stuff. Which is more important – fretting about shoes at the door or learning how to trust? Spend time focusing on areas in the marriage which, ten years down the road, will still be significant.
Tip #11– Make sure to laugh. Many catastrophes can be avoided if a lot of humour is utilised.
There are so many more tips for a successful marriage that I wish I could share but I am confined to a certain number of words. If I could sum up everything I have written already, I would have to say don’t go into a marriage thinking that there is an escape route should things not work out. Whilst we can never truly know someone, I firmly believe that working hard at marriage can reap sweet dividends for each investor!
(Rénee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:email@example.com)