Usually I use my blog as a creative outlet. Somewhere I can share my favorite DIY projects, where I can design furniture and share it with you, and where you can find inspiration to make your home a little prettier. But for the past few months I’ve had this nagging feeling that I needed to share this post with the world. Not that I have a perfect marriage, or know all the answers… but I am really happy, like ridiculously happy, in my marriage. And I know that there are people who find their marriage isn’t what they’d hoped for, or who just wish they could be closer to their spouse. So I thought I’d jot down some of the things that have worked for my husband and me and maybe they might work for you too. I’m hoping all of these nagging feelings mean that someone out there (maybe you?) might need this article.
We’ve been married for over 10 years, with 4 kids, 2 goats, 7 chickens, a cat, an SUV, and a mortgage… and we’re doing great. We have our struggles, and I have had to change things in my life to be a better wife and mom. But we have made promises to each other that we don’t intend to break, and I know that if you implement these 5 promises into your own marriage, you can find more happiness together. So, whether you’re a newlywed starting out, in the thick of raising your children, or an empty nester trying to find that spark again, I hope you’ll find something here to help your marriage be all you want it to be.
1. I promise I will never talk badly about you to anyone else.
Before we ever got engaged or even talked much about marriage, my husband asked me to promise him something- he asked me to promise that if I ever have a problem with him or something he does is bugging me, I will come to him directly and not share our struggles with my friends, my family, coworkers, or anyone else before we try to work it out together. I didn’t think much of it, and gladly agreed.
Now that we’ve been married for over 10 years, I realize how key this one thing is. SO many people, especially women, talk about their spouses to other people and just chalk it up as “girl talk” or “venting”… now don’t get me wrong, I definitely gush over my husband as often as I can! In fact, my friends are probably sick of hearing how great my Italian Stallion is. But I am so surprised how often people will trash talk their spouses behind their backs, or even just talk about their pet peeves or things their spouse is doing to bug them. Every time I hear people talking like this, I cringe! The reason I hate this kind of talk is because once you’ve vented to me about your spouse, my opinion of him or her is forever changed. Even if you work things out and move past your differences, I will always remember how he never picks up his socks off the floor, how he snores while he sleeps, how he has a problem or an addiction, or how he can’t balance a checkbook. And trust me, the last thing you need is your friends, your parents, your coworkers, or your sisters to think your husband is a slob, a jerk, or a maniac!
My rule of thumb is that if my husband wouldn’t like me to tell the world, then don’t. If I wouldn’t want him talking like that about me, then I shouldn’t talk like that about him. So just STOP! If you’re having girls night and your friends start spouting off their pet peeves about their husbands, change the subject. If you feel so frustrated with your spouse that you can’t bear it, talk to your spouse about it. I know that the promise I made to my husband to never talk badly about him to anyone else has really helped our marriage, and chances are it will help your marriage too.
2. I promise to always put your comfort and happiness first.
My husband and I have promised to live by the advice in this quote from Gordon B Hinckley: “If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce. Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness”
SO many times I have had to really try hard at this one. It’s hard to think about someone else all the time and always try to make them comfortable and happy. But guess what? That’s what makes a happy marriage! My husband and I are constantly trying to do whatever we can to help each other. I always put him first, and he does the same for me. I want him to be happy, and sometimes that means he gets to golf instead of going to yard sales with me. But at the same time, he wants me to be happy too, and so sometimes he skips golf to go to yard sales with me. It’s the best way to live together, and I have found that I am happiest when he’s happy. Cliche, I know, but it’s true!
Another thought on this subject is that the comfort and happiness of my spouse even comes before the comfort and happiness of my children (please don’t leave me nasty comments about this- just hear me out).When I counseled with my religious leader before I was married, he told me that there would come a day when I had a bunch of little kids running around, and I would think my first priority was those kids and maybe my husband might feel like he’s lost his wife because she became Mommy instead. Now that I’m in the middle of that stage of life, I see how easy that can be. But my first priority should always be my husband, and hopefully together, we can be great parents. I believe, whole heatedly, that being a mother is the reason I am on this Earth. I know that I will never do anything greater than raise a family. But my children know that they are not the center of my universe- they are important to me, and I love them dearly- but we ALL work together to make each other happy and that includes the kids. Our family is happier, because our children are learning to care for other people instead of always thinking of themselves. And our marriage is happier because we are trying- really trying- to make each other happy.
3. I promise to do everything I can to avoid addiction.
We all get addicted to different things here or there. Some are more serious and long-lasting than others, but everyone has something. Our struggles are all different- addiction to different substances or food, drug or alcohol, pornography addiction, sleep or TV addiction, and even addiction to good things like exercise or spending time at the gym. At times, I have become addicted to my phone, to a good book, to Netflix (hello Gilmore Girls!), or to my work. But I have promised my husband that I will do everything I can to avoid addiction, and he’s promised the same thing to me.
Of course we try to avoid really serious addictions that are dangerous, but we also try to avoid small addictions that can hurt our relationship. This means that when I notice I’m becoming consumed by something, I try to slow down or stop. If there is every anything I feel like I need to hide from my husband, I know that I should cut it out of my life right away. And sometimes this means that I need to confide in my spouse that I’m struggling with something. Every time we have confided in each other that we are struggling, we have grown closer together, and our relationship is stronger because of it.
I know it seems silly, but spending too much time watching TV, on your phone, or behind the pages of a book can be harmful to your relationship with your spouse because one partner feels neglected. I’ve watched the marriages of several friends deteriorate because one partner became addicted to fitness and being at the gym- they chose the gym over spending time with their family and they started relationships with people they found at the gym. Any time you choose something over your spouse and family, there is a problem. It’s good to have hobbies and even enjoy doing things away from your family, but hobbies and family should happily coincide, not compete or take away from each other.
Part of the promise I made to my husband is that if one of us ever notices something that’s taking over the other one’s life, we will tell each other. It’s not always easy to take, but we know that we’re just watching out for each other, and being addicted to anything isn’t good. If you or your spouse has a serious addiction, such as drug or alcohol addiction or a pornography addiction, please seek help from a professional. This is part of doing everything you can to ensure the comfort and happiness of your spouse.
4. I promise that I will stay faithful to you.
This seems like a given, right? If you’re married, you aren’t dating or having sex with other people. But this promise means so much more than that. Before we were married, my husband and I sat down to council with our religious leader, and he gave us some advice I’ve never forgotten. He told us that if we ever have a lust or a thought of anyone else to stop immediately. Maybe we think back to an old boyfriend or girlfriend and think how they would never do the annoying thing my spouse does. Or maybe we meet a new person who we think is dreamy, so we dream of what it would be like to be with them. Or maybe we just let little thoughts or scenarios play out in our minds. I’ve promised my husband that if this ever happens, I will stop. We have both tried really hard to keep our actions, and just as importantly, our thoughts clean and pure, and focused on each other.
One place this really applies is online and with social media. It’s easy to pretend that relationships online aren’t real, and aren’t hurting your marriage. But this is 100% false. Relationships online are just as real as in person. Maybe you aren’t being physical with someone, but having an emotional relationship with someone online is just as damaging. My husband and I are very careful in who we accept as friends on social media, and who we chat with or send messages to, and what we participate in when it comes to social media. We have promised each other that we will be honest with our social media and internet usage. We’ve also promised that if for some reason, one of us becomes uncomfortable with anything to do with our social media, we will delete it or stop all together. Nothing is worth destroying the trust we have in our marriage- especially something as silly as social media.
Another part of staying faithful to each other is staying true to our marriage vows. I made promises to my husband on the day I married him that I intend to keep, no matter the situation. I intend to treat him like the King I knew I was marrying, and his intentions are the same to me. It makes for a happy marriage when I know my husband only has eyes for me.
5. I promise I will go to bed with you each night.
For the longest time in our marriage, my husband and I would go to bed at different times. He has to wake up early for work, and I’m a night owl. So we’d say our goodnights, and he’d go to bed while I stayed up doing some computer work or watching The Bachelor or Gilmore Girls. Then, he’d wake up early, and I’d sleep for a couple more hours. In theory, it seems just fine. But trust me when I say we are much happier when we go to bed at the same time. When we go to bed at the same time, we usually lay in bed for a few minutes and talk about our days, which seems to heal any hurt we might have caused each other during the day. When we go to bed at the same time, we are able to kneel together for prayer, which is SO powerful and SO important. When we go to bed a the same time, we can snuggle (or more- *wink*), and we can fall asleep holding hands.
When we go to sleep at the same time, we usually wake up at the same time. My husband used to wake up, get ready in the dark, and leave me asleep in the bed with a goodbye kiss. Then I wouldn’t wake up until my kids came bounding in, and of course I was tired and ornery because I stayed up late (read this article if this sounds like you). Now I try to go to bed at the same time as my husband. We wake up together, we get ready together, and I make him lunch before he goes to work. Yes, I know, it’s very housewife-ish of me. And guess what, he loves it! I always thought he liked kissing my sleeping face goodbye. Apparently he likes my face bright and cheery and awake. Who knew? I love the extra time I get with my husband in the mornings, and he loves knowing that he’s important enough to me that I’ll wake up a few minutes earlier. Being on the same schedule has helped our relationship improve and we are happier for it.
I hope you found a thing or two in this article that could help your marriage improve. If you have any other ideas for me, please leave your ideas in the comments.
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