It's your wedding day. Your palms are sweating, and your heart is racing. You are about to marry your best friend; the one person you wish to spend the rest of your life. You are nervous. You are excited. You have dreams of being that cute couple. I'm talking about the couple who seems to grow more in love the older they get. Your future together seems bright and marriage seems so easy because you are so in love. Suddenly, a couple of years and a few children later, you look at that stranger sitting across from you at the dinner table and think, "Hey! I think I know you. At least, I used to."
So, what happened between the day of your wedding and now? Research has shown that marital satisfaction goes down dramatically after the birth of the first baby. It continues to go down slightly after the birth of each child. Between conflicting parenting ideas, less time for privacy, and this new little person who is 100 percent dependent on you for everything, it is no wonder why, if not nurtured properly, a marriage can suffer. This is why it is so important to make your spouse your number one. It can be hard. But oh, so worth it. Your spouse will be happier, which will make you happier, which will make your marriage happier, which will make your children happier.
Many everyday tasks can easily get in the way of your marriage. How are you going to keep this most important union your first priority? While that is something we all need to figure out with our own spouses, there are 5 important principles that can help guide your ideas.
1. Date your spouse - often
Whether you are newlyweds, in the trenches of parenthood, or beginning the reconnecting stage after your children have left, dating your spouse is vital. We are always learning, growing, and changing. Therefore, we should always be regularly reconnecting with our spouse. Grow together to avoid becoming strangers.
2. Tell your children how much you love their mom and dad
What a great security it will be for your children to know that you two are in love, and your marriage comes first, even before them. Studies have shown that when marriages disintegrate, so do the children involved. Children who come from broken homes are more likely to be involved in drugs, promiscuity, and experience academic, emotional, and behavioral problems. As wacky as it sounds, not making your children your number one priority may be the best thing you do for them.
3. Always speak highly of your spouse
If people were to only know your spouse through how you talk about them, would they like your spouse and think highly of them? Strangers don't love your spouse like you do. Therefore, they will not forgive them like you do. People will always remember the negative things they have heard from you, even when you bring up the good things. Always be mindful of how you speak of your spouse and don't talk badly about them - to anyone.
4. Show respect
Husbands: Continue to be the gentleman you were when you were dating. Open her door, give her your jacket, offer to help around the house. Wives: Speak only encouraging words to your spouse; Hurtful words cannot be taken back. You need to be the one to tell him he is useful, needed, and competent because that is the very opposite of what the world is telling him. Look at every sitcom on TV these days. The husband is always the goofy, incapable, just-one-more-child-the-mother-has-to-deal-with character. Uplifting and loving words will always do more good than any criticism.
5. Expect the best out of each other
Sometimes we can get into bad habits of assuming our spouse is doing something just to spite us. Learn to always assume the best and doubt the bad. Not only will your spouse be happier, you will be happier. You will begin to only see the good things they do.
I grew up in a family in which the marriage was not nurtured. I have suffered greatly because of it. I have had many disadvantages, especially when it comes to academics, because I grew up with much anxiety. However, I have learned from my parents, grown, and now have a wonderful marriage. It's not perfect. But that's what makes it so worth it. We both understand the importance of making our relationship our number one. For example, even though we are both busy with school and life, we make it a priority to date each other every week. Even if it is something as simple as going to the local arcade and winning as many tickets as we can with $5, or eating McDonalds in the back of our car with the hatch door open before I drop him off at work, we always date each other. It has made a world of a difference.
Being deliberate in your marriage and making your spouse your number one will have a great impact on your whole family. It will be what keeps you from becoming strangers living under the same roof. Instead, you will become that couple you always dreamed of being; the one that seems to grow more in love the older they get.