I am very territorial; I don't like sharing space. I like a lot of room to stretch out, which means no cuddling. I like to know everything is in its place and I really don't like surprises. I can't stand loud noises or crowds or weird smells. I prefer to stay home with good coffee and challenging work over a night on the town any day. I tend to be assertive, combative, uncompromising when it comes to my vision. When it comes to gifts, I prefer a chore completed over the finest jewelry. I can't stand the sound of eating, and nothing - I mean nothing - pisses me off like being interrupted from my thoughts.
That's me in a nutshell. If you observe the laws of balance, that's my yang side, anyway. Every one of those traits compliments the caretaking, scientific, entrepreneurial side of me that everyone celebrates by keeping me grounded, focused, and seeing things through.
Each of the traits listed above is great for success. Not so great building and keeping strong relationships. That noted, you're probably wondering how I managed to settle in long enough to find a partner, much less the both of us stay happy.
Here's how I do my part.
Make the Decision
You probably should have done this when you said "yes," and maybe you did. Whether you did or not, now's the time to do it again.
If you want to keep your marriage fresh and happy, the most important thing you can do is say yes to your partnership every single day.
For me, it's part of my morning meditation. Every morning I sit in quiet and reaffirm who I am, what I want, and to what I am committed. And every single morning I say yes to my marriage. It helps keep the little things in perspective throughout the day.
And when tough times cloud our happiness as it will in any marriage, the strength of these daily affirmations helps us get through troubles faster and more easily.
Maybe your marriage is your number one priority. Or maybe your career is your number one priority and your marriage is number two, and that's ok.
Priorities are another one of those things we hear about all the time, but know nothing about. One of the first things I want to know about my clients, friends, anyone, is what their priorities are. And every time I ask, I get a list of twenty or so things that pretty much encompasses every aspect and potential aspect of their lives.
Everything cannot be a priority. If everything is a priority, nothing is.
You can only have three priorities. For me, my three priorities are marriage, children, business. In that order. A friend of mine clearly defines hers as family, faith, work. Your priorities are not the same as your values, but if you stick with me long enough, I'll help you work that out too.
Label your priorities, organize them, and be honest about where your marriage lies on the list.
Focus on You
In the United States, researchers estimate that fifty percent of all first marriages, and sixty percent of second marriages, will end in divorce. The two most common reasons for divorce? Lack of commitment and too much arguing. Put them together and it's safe to say that most marriages succumb to death by a thousand cuts.
Yes, at times my husband's actions annoys me. He chews loudly and can't fold laundry worth a hoot. But guess what? Those aren't problems with him. They're problems with me. Which means that at some point, I had to choose to voice my issues incessantly and demand that he change to suit my sensibilities, or find a way to cope with my little pet peeves.
I chose to examine myself and change my responses to his perfectly normal and acceptable behaviors.
That's not to say that you should just tolerate anything. You shouldn't. If Mike took up drinking, gambling, infidelity, shouting at our children or something seriously damaging to himself, our family, or our common goals I wouldn't tolerate it for a moment. Neither should you.
There a serious problems and there are trivial annoyances. Don't get them mixed up. Pick your battles, and focus on addressing your behaviors and reactions whenever you can.
Have Fun Together
I wish I could tell you to go out on a date every week. I wish I could go out on a date every week! But I am too much in touch with reality to believe that's possible for most couples.
The good news is, while date night is great, it's not necessary. As a matter of fact, it might not even be great if you go out every week and don't talk to each other.
In reality, you shouldn't have to schedule time out of your schedule to be with your partner. It's the little things throughout the day that make all the difference. Send cute notes to him over email or messenger to let him know you're thinking about him. Drop everything for a minute for a long hug. My whole world changed when I realized my laptop worked just as well on the couch, propped up against my husband, as it does at my desk in another part of the house.
And we love our video games.
Joke, play, cuddle, talk and listen. If you have the time, support, and resources for a weekly date night, then do it. Add that to the list. Either way, make a list of things you love to do together and make them happen all day long.
Have you ever hired or considered hiring a coach to help you achieve greater success? A virtual assistant for your business? Someone to clean your house so you can get an extra hour or two or work (or sleep)?
Sometimes we need help. Our marriage is no different. There is absolutely no point and nothing to be gained from trying to struggle through your marital difficulties alone. As a matter of fact, without a guide or moderator, chances are time itself will only make things worse.
Get help soon, get help often. Counseling saves marriages.
When to End It
The decision to end a marriage is incredibly difficult. It's a decision that can only be made between you, your spouse, and your marriage counselor.
Frankly, I'm very grateful that I simply don't know when enough is enough. I can't tell you when a good time to end your marriage might be, or what constitutes a divorceable offence other than outright violence.
But I will say this: if there is any doubt in your mind that divorce will make you a happier, healthier, more productive person then put it off. Talk to your spouse, get marriage counseling, get personal counseling. Saving your marriage could be as simple as learning to cope with a disheveled linen closet.
Hi! I'm so glad you found your way to this blog. I'm Whitney Raver, and I'm on a mission to help spirited, ambitious individuals like yourself overcome doubt, let go of excuses, and finally realize your epic potential.