The majority of us go into better marriages with the best intentions. However, according to statistics, just over 50% of our divorces. Those who remarry are at even greater risk. I learned a lot of lessons from my divorce ten years ago, and now that I’m remarried, I’d like to share eight of the most important of those lessons.
#1. Go away with each other
With jobs, kids, and life’s responsibilities, your partnership can quickly become about everything but your marriage. Press the pause button—those things will be there when you return. Go away for a weekend or stay home and plan something fun and romantic. Get a babysitter, go to dinner, and don’t talk about work or the kids. Instead, talk about yourselves. You are your memories. Reconnect and make it a habit.
#2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Your spouse will sometimes work late, skip dinner, miss your child’s game, or forget to call or pick up something from the store. It’s not worth reprimanding them over it. These are little annoyances and nothing to argue over in the big scheme of things. Trust that your spouse already feels terrible about it and that you don’t need to make them feel any worse. You may be surprised by the reaction you receive when you offer understanding instead of anger.
#3. Get away from each other
In his book “The Prophet,” the author Kahlil Gibran writes of the need for separation in marriage and puts it beautifully when he notes that the oak and the cypress do not grow in each other’s shadows. This is so very true! Do not become co-dependent. Do things without one another, and maintain the hobbies and interests you were pursuing when your spouse first met you. This allows you to maintain your identities and miss each other.
So often, we forget to laugh at ourselves and each other. Pop in a comedy, poke a little fun at each other or see a comedian. Science proves that laughter occurs when people are most comfortable with one another, and it promotes bonding.
#5. Build a bridge and get over it
It’s a fact of life that you are going to get mad. You are going to disagree. You will not always subscribe to the idea that you should never go to bed angry. However, don’t hold a grudge—it wastes time. Cool off, then talk it out and let it go. Holding onto anger is toxic not only for your marriage but also for you as an individual. If you can’t let it go, find a good therapist who makes you feel comfortable, and work to move past your anger in that safe space.
#6. Agree to disagree sometimes
It’s human nature to want to be correct, but don’t spend too much time trying to prove your point. It’s okay to disagree on issues that will not harm your marriage. Don’t fight battles that aren’t worth it. Being right is not more important than forgiveness and respect.
#7. Maintain intimacy
While sex is one of the most important aspects of marriage, intimacy is more than sex. While regular sex is great, so is a physical and mental connection that doesn’t involve sex. A smile across the room, long talks into the night, being vulnerable and silly together or touching one another’s legs under the table tie you together emotionally and deepen your connection.
#8. Treat them like a friend
Our patience levels with our spouse sometimes differ from those with our friends. Yet our spouse is supposed to be a best friend. If you disagree with a good friend, you will likely handle it better in marriage than when you disagree with your spouse. You probably won’t yell at a friend nor let the disagreement escalate to name-calling.
If a friend feels terrible about spilling a glass of wine on your new rug, you may comfort them, but you may not take it so well if your spouse does this. Extend even greater respect and courtesy to your spouse, and remember there’s no use crying over spilt wine. Pour another glass and enjoy it together.