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12 Ways To Start A Healthy Marriage




ONE

Change Your Mindset From 'Me' to 'We'


It's not just you anymore! Your bedroom is now Our bedroom. Your house is now Our house. Your finances, your dreams, your future... it is now a life that you are growing together with another person. Change your mindset from 'me' to 'we' and you will start to see things in a different light. From decision making to family planning and everything else. You have someone to stand beside you in the good and the bad, so start thinking that way!




TWO

Practice Detailed Communication


Lack of communication is the #1 issue that leads to the end of a relationship. The best way to start off on the right foot, is by practicing detailed communication in all areas... not just when things get rough.


First, you need to acknowledge the fact that neither you nor your spouse, can read each others minds. The only way your spouse can know what you're thinking, is if you tell them.


For example, if you prefer to clean the house in a way that is different from your spouse's approach, take the time to explain why you clean the way you do and why you prefer to do it your way. Maybe you prefer to clean a little bit every day but your spouse prefers taking a whole day to knock it all out at once. Explain to your spouse in detail, why you prefer your way. Take it a step further, and discuss your expectations around cleaning the house and come to an agreement on who is responsible for what tasks. Talking about the difference in your methods in the beginning, helps you to avoid a possible fight down the road.


Practicing detailed communication about the small stuff, prepares you to have fair and healthy discussions about the big stuff.



THREE

Keep an Open Mind

No one is perfect. I think we can all agree on that. Keep your mind open to the possibility that your way may not be the best way.


You may have been paying your bills one way for your entire adult life. But guess what? Your spouse just may have a better approach. Just because you have been doing something the same way for 20 years, does not mean it is the best way. Talk about it together, and remember to keep an open mind!


Remember, just because you keep an open mind doesn't mean you have to change all of your ways to their ways. But it is a much healthier approach to blending your lives together, than insisting everything has to be your way. You may be surprised by the decisions that the 2 of you come to after open minded discussions.



FOUR

Don't Compromise Your Morals

Your morals are the foundation of who you are as a person. If your spouse is insinuating or even blatantly asking you to compromise your morals, perhaps they aren't the person for you. Have open and honest conversations about your morals, your expectations, and your intentions for the future. Pray together and have the hard discussions. Talk about the hard things before you say "I do". You will be glad you did.



FIVE

Practice Forgiveness


You can never anticipate the amount of times you and your spouse will have to practice forgiveness. You will have disagreements. It is inevitable. You will have bad days. It's part of life. Perhaps he woke up on the wrong side of the bed and every little thing you do is grating on your spouse's nerves. Practice forgiveness. You will have days like this too. It is part of life.


Sometimes forgiveness is hard. But we are called to forgive just as God has forgiven us. Forgive. And remember, forgiveness does not equal weakness. It takes more strength to forgive than it does to hold a grudge.




SIX

Discuss Expectations

Wether you know what they are or not, you have expectations. We all do. Perhaps the first step, is to sit for a while and get real with yourself about what you expect from your spouse, from yourself, and from your marriage. Write them down. Expand on them. Then discuss them with your spouse. You may be surprised to find how many of your expectations align!



SEVEN

Practice Healthy Conflict/Resolution

How do you handle conflict? How does your spouse handle conflict? Maybe you haven't known each other long enough to know, or maybe you are in denial about how you handle conflict. No matter your situation, committing to healthy conflict/resolution will help your marriage to succeed for years to come.


First, obtain emotional awareness. Be honest with yourself. Reflect on how you have dealt with conflict in the past. You have to know your emotional tendencies to recognize how you first react when a conflict arises.


Once you have identified your emotional response, practice self-control. Change your attitude and don't give in to your impulses. A conflict has happened, and running away is helping no one. So you have to face it. Remember the consequences of your actions and control the way you react.


Come up with constructive ways to respond to conflict instead of reacting in an unhealthy way. Some of these unhealthy reactions are anger, self-isolation, fear, or dismissiveness. All of these can create emotional walls between you and your spouse. They may not seem like much in the beginning, but over time, those small walls have built a fortress that can be the downfall of your relationship. Discuss some positive, constructive reactions with your spouse.

Healthy reactions include :

  • Fair and Honest Communication (allowing both sides to speak freely and explain their point of view)

  • Acknowledging your own mistakes

  • Starting statements with "I feel" (If you discuss things in an accusatory way ..."you" this and "you" that... people tend to be more defensive. If you begin statements with "It made me feel hurt when you said...." or "I felt offended when you....")

  • Listening (not trying to control the conversation)

  • Asking Intentional Questions (if you don't understand their point of view, ask questions until you do)


Next, Take Action on your conversation. Perhaps one person swayed the other's opinion. Perhaps the only way to resolve the conflict is through compromise. However you have chosen to resolve the conflict, the most important part is taking action TOGETHER, as a couple.


Finally, Talk about what you learned. This may be the most important step, and the step most often skipped. But hear me when I say... this step will pay off more than you can possibly imagine!


What responses worked? What responses didn't? Was the discussion fair and honest? What should you do differently next time? You are talking to your life partner... someone who is promising to love you unconditionally. Don't be afraid to have detailed conversation about lessons learned.





EIGHT

Seek Opportunities to Serve your Spouse


This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a marriage, but one of the most important. You may be the bread-winner, paying all the bills and ensuring there is a roof over your heads, but if you are not serving your spouse in all areas -- emotionally, mentally, and physically, your marriage can morph into a glorified living arrangement.


Be intentional. Take the time to do something special for your spouse, on an ordinary day. Bring them a treat at the end of the day, run a hot bath for them, or take over one of their regular "chores".


Be emotionally available. Your spouse does not need you to fix everything. But they do need you to listen. Being present and emotionally available is more valuable than trying to fix every problem that comes along.


Be physically intentional. If your spouse is always the one that initiates physical intimacy, take over that role every once in a while. Let your spouse know that you desire them physically. Even a random hug goes a long way.


Compliment your spouse. Tell your spouse you're proud of them. Acknowledge them when they do a good job. Thank them for taking out the trash, even if they do it every single day. Gratitude is appreciated. Being recognized by your spouse is crucial. Don't let the comfortability of marriage keep you from actively practicing gratitude and appreciation for your significant other.


The needs of your spouse should be forefront in your mind. You must be willing to give as much as you receive. Your love languages may not be the same, and that's ok. If you highly value Acts of Service, and your spouse highly values Physical Affection, you must be intentional about giving Physical Affection to your spouse. In turn, your spouse must be intentional about providing Acts of Service to you.

You must be willing to speak each other's love languages and fulfill your spouse's needs, genuinely and with intention.




NINE

 Talk About Money

For every 10 marriages that do not survive, 4 ended because of money. Don't let money crush your relationship. One thing will always be true.... money it not worth the end of what could be a great marriage. So, how do you keep from being one of the 4? Talk about it NOW! Discuss money up front. Don't just talk about your current financial status.... discuss every possible scenario. What will it look like when we have kids? What does retirement look like? What if one of us loses a job? Will we be responsible for taking care of elderly parents? How much do we want to travel?

Being intentional about expectations and possible financial issues, provides a framework for the future. When you have come to an agreement on how future financial issues will be handled, you can enter into them with confidence instead of fear.



TEN

 Set Goals Together

Having a goal to work towards together, gives your relationship a new dynamic that you just may find yourself thriving in. Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say. So, set a goal. Lay it all out, step by step. Encourage each other. Recognize each others accomplishments. Use this opportunity to lift each other up along the way. When you have achieved your goal, the reward is so much sweeter because you built and achieved something together.



ELEVEN

 Talk About Intimacy


Talk openly about intimacy with your spouse. Discuss expectations. Discuss boundaries. Ask questions. Sometimes discussions about intimacy can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary. One spouse may be perfectly fine with the way things are, while the other one is feeling isolated and physically neglected. In other relationships, one spouse may prefer to be physically intimate every day of the week, while the other prefers once a week or once a month. If you don't talk about it, you don't know. Again... you can't read each others minds. Discuss what motivates you to be intimate, what does not motivate you, and how you can fulfill the needs of one another.



TWELVE

Establish Good Habits

Establishing good habits in the beginning, leads to a successful marriage. All of the 11 practices above should become a permanent part of your marriage. You cannot expect to run through the list, practicing each thing one or two times, and expect things to go smoothly for the rest of your lives. These practices must become habits. Some will come more naturally than others. Practice them. Talk about them. But most importantly, pray about them.




We pray that these 12 practices will bless your marriage for years to come!




Cheers!

L

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