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8 Simple Rules

I have a wonderful marriage. It's easy for me to say it, too. It's not wishful thinking. It's not hopeful optimism. It's simply true. I'm not comparing my marriage to other marriages, either.

Back on the sixth of this month, Jodi and I had our seventh yeariversary (the anniversary of the day we met). Of those seven years, we've enjoyed 5 years and 5 months of an amazing marriage and I would like to share some marriage basics to the men out there that stand to only improve your marriage (women will surely gain from this advice, too, so keep reading, ladies). The following list is not in any particular order nor is it complete, by any means. I didn't make them all up, but they all did come out of my head. Who knows for certain how they got there?

  1. Say "I'm sorry."

  2. When arguments arise, and they will, apologize. No matter how right you may be, apologize. Chances are you hurt her feelings by something you said, or did, or maybe just the look on your face struck a powerful emotional blow to her. Regardless, you should be sorry. Yes, you should. Yes, you should. Stop arguing with me. You should be sorry for hurting her feelings. You should be sorry that you're not having a good time together. You should be sorry for your role in contributing to the disagreement. She should be sorry, too, but whether she is or not doesn't excuse you from what I'm saying to you. You're the leader here, right? The head of the home? Then, lead her. Say you're sorry first and mean it. Put aside your hurts. You're a man. You can do it.

  3. Smile when you reconnect.

  4. Whether it's coming home from a 12-hour shift at work, or coming in from taking out the trash greet her with a smile, at the very least. Your greeting sets the tone for the time you will be spending together. If you come home immediately complaining about work, expect a negative and overwhelmed atmosphere all night. Contrasting that, try smiling at her like you just met her when you get home. Give her a hug. Make the time you get home something that is looked forward to all day by you and the others in your home.

  5. Pray for her.

  6. This is key. Even if you don't believe in God, pray anyway. What if you are wrong about God and he does exist, then at least she'll be doing well for your answered prayer. Even so, praying for someone is the best way to relieve any unforgiveness you may have against that person. And, that's good for everybody.

  7. Replace "I deserve..." with "I'm thankful."

  8. Let's face it, our first instinct as humans is to protect ourselves and serve ourselves. However, our selfish instincts don't really know best when it comes to bringing lasting happiness to ourselves. All too often, people tell themselves that they deserve something that they don't. For example: "I worked all day, I deserve to sit & relax for a few hours." Why do you think you deserve these things? Who decided that periods of work deserve periods of laziness? When you hear an "I deserve ..." thought coming on replace it with what you are thankful for instead, like maybe a house (that needs a little TLC), wife (that needs a little TLC), kids (that need a little TLC), pets ("), ... The list goes on and on. You want all these things because they bring you joy, but do not forsake them because you are a little tired. They will revive you better than any "me" time.

  9. Laugh often.

  10. Our moods are chosen. Make no mistake. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise. Your emotions have no control over you. You are not a slave to your surroundings. You decide how people will affect your day. You choose how your circumstances will shape your countenance. Choose joy. Shake off all negativity. Attack it with optimism. People will love you for it.

  11. Don't go to bed angry.

  12. This is an old one. And so true, too. Ephesians 4:26 says, "...let not the sun set upon your wrath." Old anger turns to bitterness and can defile many. It can become unforgiveness, that hurts the bearer worse than the ones he holds unforgiveness towards. Deal with your stuff. You don't need time to think. You need guts to deal. Be strong, man up. Fix it.

  13. Do things together.

  14. I've never met an obviously happy couple that didn't do virtually everything together. And, I've seen many unhappy couples who don't hardly do anything together. One watches the game while the other does something else. One tinkers in the garage, the other scrapbooks. One hangs out with the guys playing cards, the other goes out with the girls. Find some things that you both enjoy. If you can't think of anything that you both enjoy, then go sit at a coffee shop and talk until you come up with something. Don't drink coffee? Have some water, then. If you don't look forward to time spent with your spouse, then you need to change something.

  15. Help each other

  16. You each have your roles to play to maintain the lifestyle that you have chosen. Each of you have your part and a set of responsibilities, but many people will wind up excusing themselves from the other's responsibilities and refusing to help on the grounds that “that's not my job.” But, that attitude only causes problems. It's better to make it a competition of who can do more for the other. If you're both trying to please the other, then you both will be endlessly happy. However, if you are only out to do things to get for yourself, then not only will you not be happy, but you will eventually lack motivation to do much of anything at all. I'll borrow from John F. Kennedy here and say that it's not what your spouse can do for you, it's what you can do for your spouse.

God created everything and then He "saw that it was good." Then He created man and said, "it is not good for man to be alone." So, He created a wife for man. You all know the story. But, notice, when He saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone, He didn't create a TV, or football, or all-you-can-eat buffets, or bars, or a bad influence of a friend, or four-wheel drives, etc. He created him a wife. Marriage can be such a fulfilling life to you, but you have to follow some rules. Like these here. Rules not to stop you from having fun, but rules set to teach you how to have lasting fun, happiness, and joy until death do you part.


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