In working with many couples over the years, I have discovered that there are some “rules” that help make marriage better and improve the chances of a lifelong, healthy partnership.
While many people don’t like the idea of rules, myself included, you can change it to “commitments” that you make first to yourself and then to your partner. With that adjustment in place, you will find these suggestions pretty easy, but actually fun, and, most importantly — they work.
Here are 3 marriage rules used by couples who have good lives together.
1. Spend time apart.
Recognize that each person has needs that go beyond their partner’s ability to fulfill — and that’s okay. As Oprah says, women need women friends, and that is true. Even if your partner is your best friend, you also don’t have the same type of connection that you would with a bestie outside of your relationship.
It is also true that men need men. That means that it is a must for each person to regularly get together with their same-gender friends. It could be a hike, retreat, lunch, playing cards, throwing a football around, or whatever interests you have. As long as you’re taking time to make plans.
Keep the activity clean and simple and you will come back to the relationship refreshed, feeling more connected than ever. That means this is not a time to drink a lot and be mean to your partner; rather, it is a time to laugh and de-stress.
2. Create a team.
If issues come up that are not easy to resolve together, seek help like a counselor or coach, not your mother or family members. You need a third party to assist you, not someone in your close circle.
It is smart to have a professional on your team that helps you put conflicts in perspective, sort things out, and move from a stuck place. In fact, plenty of couples seek counseling and come out the other side a better team.
Think of it like a board meeting where different viewpoints are hashed out to come up with the best way forward. These sessions can be revelatory, lifesaving, and even fun. You may even learn something new about your partner.
3. Spend time together.
This is not the old model of marriage where you spend every day together, as in today’s world that is often impossible. Busy schedules and independent living may mean you don’t spend a lot of time in the same physical space.
However, relationships grow when special moments are shared. Is there a common interest or sport you can connect with — yoga, pickleball, a charitable activity you can pour your heart into, the theater, or walking in the park? Make it a fun activity you can do together.
Or, try a new place for dinner and spend time catching up with one another. Whatever you do, it should be something “new,” as in discovering something for the first time, together.
Have an adventure. Yes, call it a date. The point is to bring variety into your special time. Because strong relationships are nurtured and, when you grow together, you stay together.
Jean Walters is an international best-selling author and transformational coach with expertise in personal and spiritual empowerment. Her work has been featured in the St. Louis Suburban Journals, The Fax Daily, St. Louis Globe-Democrat Newspaper, St. Louis Home Magazine, and elsewhere.