“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully.” President Russel M Nelson.
It is not impossible to achieve happiness within your marriage; I have experienced greater happiness in my marriage than in any other relationship. I must admit though, to achieve this happiness, it takes lots of work and careful nurturing. That is why I’ve decided to share 4 principles that have helped me to strengthen my marriage.
Understanding your spouse
To truly understand your spouse, you must learn how to communicate effectively. This type of communication extends beyond just spoken words. It is knowing your spouse’s love language. It is knowing exactly how he/she receives love. My husband’s love language is ‘Physical Touch’ whereas mine is ‘Quality Time’. So, we both had to learn how to communicate and express love according to each other’s love language. We didn’t always know each other’s love language and it was something that we had to learn over time. Interestingly enough, we both read the book “5 love languages” by Gary Chapman and found a fun quiz online that helped. I highly recommend reading this book and taking this quiz with your spouse https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/ to learn each other’s love language.
Put your spouse first! All other relationships should be secondary (work colleagues, parents, and friends). D&C 42:22 gives us a clear statement that putting our spouses comes first. No one else and nothing else should take precedent over your spouse (except God) and this is why boundaries are very important. If we are not careful to put our spouses first, we may find ourselves putting up walls within our marriage and opening windows for people on the outside to come in which can lead to problems within the marriage including infidelity.
Setting boundaries protects against infidelity.
Dr. Shirley Glass, therapist, and author say that more than often we think that infidelity happens when we do not love our spouse enough but it is about boundaries; where we draw the line. Early in our marriage, we made sure to set boundaries because we both had past relationships and friends of the opposite sex with whom we interacted with. Here are some boundaries that we have decided to adopt:
- Don’t flirt with anyone other than your spouse.
- Don’t have lunch alone with an old flame.
- Resist the desire to rescue an unhappy soul who pours his or her heart out to you
- If a conversation makes light of marriage, respond with something positive about your marriage.
- Discuss marital issues only with your spouse.
Learn to forgive:
Now this one may not come as easy to some but I can’t tell you how many times this principle has saved our marriage. We are two imperfect beings striving to be the best that we can. Sometimes we say and do things that irritate each other. We even step on a few toes but learning to forgive helps us to grow. It helps us to see the other person for what they can be rather than what they are in the moment of their mistakes.
Forgiveness is difficult because it requires letting go of the role of the victim and its benefits but, while vengeance may feel satisfying in the short run, it will keep the injured spouse stuck in the past.
Richard Miller said it best “Just as our sins and weaknesses are washed away through repentance, forgiveness washes away the hurts and emotional injuries that must be anticipated in being married to someone who is imperfect.”
Understanding that love is a choice:
I think that the way the world sells love is misleading. We do not just live “Happily Ever After”. We do not wake up every day in a fantasy world expecting to be in awe and love constantly. My friends, love is a choice and we have to choose to love each other day in and day out.
Yes, there are going to be times when the chemical flood our bodies and we feel this overwhelming sensation but the real test comes after that sensation leaves and you come face to face with an imperfect soul; someone who chews with their mouth open or leaves the toilet seat up, or perhaps they squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle and not at the end. Ahh yes! I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You know that you’re not always googly-eyed over your spouse but you make the bravest choice of all; you choose to love them anyway. That right there is true love. Understanding this principle will strengthen your marriage significantly knowing that a conscious effort is needed for love to endure.
I can not sit here and tell you that this is all a walk in the park but, it is worth it! Our aim isn’t to strive for a perfect marriage but a happy and fulfilling one. Feel free to like, share and leave a comment. I am curious to hear your thoughts.