Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Curt and me

This week my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. While no marriage is perfect, there are a few things that can strengthen the relationship between husband and wife. Here’s my short list of ways to increase the happiness in your marriage and keep the home fires burning.

Positive Practices

  • Communicate in a loving tone
  • Pray together every day
  • Forgive, forgive, forgive – continually
  • Maintain hope
  • Listen well
  • See the best in your spouse
  • Smile, laugh, go on dates together
  • Build on your common interests and hobbies
  • Appreciate the differences
  • Overlook the small stuff
  • Greet your spouse with joy (take a lesson from your dog on this one)
  • Reflect on what brought you together in the first place
  • Agree to disagree at times
  • Be a content and joyful person
  • Find your identity in Christ, not your spouse

 

Some Don’ts:

  • Don’t use the words “always” or “never”
  • Don’t demand your own way or think you know it all
  • Don’t nab and nit-pick at each other
  • Don’t hold on to past offenses or grudges
  • Don’t let technology isolate you and diminish your communication
  • Don’t depend on your spouse for your own personal happiness

 

The apostle Paul described love this way, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13)

I don’t know about you, but I fall short of that description of love in many ways. The good news is, this description of love gives us a picture of God’s love toward us. How wonderful to know that God genuinely loves us and that we can ask Him to pour His love through us. May His love be very real in your life today.

True Positive: Day 10 – Perseverance

Women ready to race on track field

Perseverance means to continue doing something in spite of the difficulties or opposition. It means being steadfast in purpose and to persist. When we face challenges of any kind, let’s be honest, our tendency is to want to quit. Whether it is school or work or a relationship, it is natural for us to want to take the easy route or the less painful path. Possibly one of the most positive things we can do is to push through the uncomfortable circumstances and persevere.

It takes courage and strength, mixed with a glimmer of hope, to press forward in tough times. Granted, there are some circumstances in life when we ought to call it quits, but we must be wise, discerning and prayerful in those situations. We can learn from the apostle Paul’s example as he faced hardships, imprisonments and beatings. He wrote, “Forgetting the things that are behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God is calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Press on my friend, with your eyes on the goal. Find your courage, strength and hope in Him.

Perspective – The Key to Connection

perspective

Have you ever had one of those awkward times when you felt misunderstood? Recently, while visiting with a colleague, I made a simple suggestion that would typically be warmly received – but not in this case. She snapped back and accused me of judging her, yet condemnation was the farthest thing from my mind. It was then that I had to step back and look at the bigger picture. What made her react in such a protective manner? What nerve did I hit? Why did my simple words rattle her?

When I considered things from her perspective and thought about her current situation, and the little I knew about her childhood, my heart softened and I understood why she responded the way she did. Initially I felt misunderstood, but the resolution came when I attempted to understand the issue from her point of view. Perhaps the greatest need that we as humans have is not only be loved, but to be understood. Choosing to see things from another person’s perspective can not only build connection, but can also reconcile our own feelings of being misunderstood.

This is especially true when it comes to client relations or customer service. When an unkind customer comes to you with an angry complaint, instead of taking it personally, choose to see things from their perspective. Ask yourself:

• Why is this so important to them?
• What could have happened during their day today to make them this angry?
• What’s going on in their personal life that is affecting their attitude right now?
• Are they like this all of the time? Are they a negative person by nature?

Sometimes, I even take it a step further and think about what their childhood may have been like and what kind of hurt or abuse they endured in their life. When we go the extra mile to see past the exterior anger, we can often find an opportunity to open the door of communication. When encountering conflict of any sort whether personal or in business, it helps to selflessly begin the conversation with statements such as:

• Help me understand what you are saying.
• Tell me why you feel this way.
• Let me make sure I hear what you are saying.
• What is it that is making you frustrated?
• In what way can I help resolve this?

Let’s push forward this week to build understanding with the people we encounter. Step into the other person’s perspective and be a thoughtful listener rather than a reactive participant. Ask God to give you His patience, kindness and self-control as you interact with the people around you. Most important, remember that you are loved and understood by the God who sees all and knows your heart.

thrive Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive: Passionately Living the Life You Didn’t Plan