47 Best Ways to Accelerate Happiness in Marriage by 1000x, Backed by Experience
Natalie and I had a fairy tale, whirlwind wedding. We literally got married within 2 months of meeting each other. (What!) I know. KA-RAZY. I’m not recommending that anyone do that — just saying that’s how it happened for us.
LOOK, YO. I’M NO MARRIAGE EXPERT. I’M A LIFE JUNKIE. LIFE HAS BEATEN US TO HELL AND BACK.
My son died from Whooping Cough.
It was the low point in my life.
My personal life spun into deep grief.
My wife’s brother had just died a couple years earlier in his sleep.
My wife and I crawled in a hole away from the world.
We have 3 other kids and our family doubled to 6 when we brought in 3 more that needed a home (7 year old girl and 1 year old twins). We were going to adopt them until the State gave them back to the bio Mom. A blessing and nightmare simultaneously.
My wife and I decided to take our 3 kids on a road trip from NY. On the way to the airport my wife lost her memory (stroke?). Her memory came back. The doctors said there was no long term damage. I was scared. She got on the plane anyways.
We became digital entrepreneurs roaming from New York City to San Diego to Mexico to Canada. We never knew where we’d stay at night. It was bliss. We did this for 6 months before moving to Hawai‘i for a promised opportunity.
The promise was a lie.
We are grateful for that lie. We own our own lives and live regardless of frauds.
We now have books, videos and companies all about living an intentional life without regret. We make both physical products and digital products with a decentralized, global footprint. Real businesses with real revenue and real contribution.
My son was hit by a car recently near our home in Hawaii on the North Shore of Oahu. He should have died or been put in a body cast. He’s back surfing again.
Life is short. Just because that phrase is cliche, doesn’t make it less true. We have freedom of geography, income and time.
We don’t care about stuff. We own almost nothing. We are minimalists. But, we do own our lives. We own our time. We own our contribution to humanity on a deep level.
We just got back yesterday from two weeks traveling around China celebrating our 15th anniversary.
Whatever you’ve gone through is hard too. Life sucks. A lot. Pain is like gas that fills a room. No matter how little gas/pain, it can fill your entire being.
Now back on to the marriage stuff…
NEWLYWEDS GET THE WORST ADVICE BECAUSE NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO SAY…UNLESS THEY DO.
Newlyweds get all kinds of strange advice. I once told a man sitting next to me in an airport that I was going to get married. He was divorced and eager to give me a word or two of advice.
He explained that his marriage fell apart when he and his ex started having different goals. Over time, this had moved them in different directions, and he attributed his divorce to this, 100%.
Then and there, I determined to do everything in my power to not let “different directions” happen to Natalie and I. I determined that I would try to walk along the same path with Natalie forever.
Metaphorically, walking down the aisle together doesn’t end after you say “I do” or when you leave those chapel doors — I believe that aisle extends through eternity.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
The truth of the matter is that life has a way of changing ALL of your plans. Setting goals to achieve together are important, but don’t feel hopeless if you don’t always reach them. Learn, together. Feel disappointed, together. Pick up the pieces, together. Smile, together. And move on, TOGETHER. When it comes to marriage, goal setting is more about walking in the same direction than it is about reaching any one dream.
MY BIG EPIPHANY
In marriage, as long as you’re trying to walk in the same direction, you have reached the overarching goal.
47 TIPS TO EXPERIMENT TO ACCELERATE HAPPINESS IN YOUR MARRIAGE
Every year since our 10th anniversary in 2012, I write down learnings from that year of marriage. This year, I’ve decided to compile some of them together into one big-ole post.
Look, married or not, divorced or not, I imagine you have advice that I haven’t included. What tips do you suggest?
Will you share in the comments? Would mean the world to my wife and I and I’m sure the other Medium.com readers. Thanks!
(Picture of Natalie and I last week in China during our 15th wedding anniversary trip.)
1. Lighten up, laugh it off, and live it up.
Life’s too short not to.
2. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Life’s too short to be short-tempered. Don’t be prideful or rigidly committed to what YOU think, want, need.
(Yes, first two are similar on purpose to drive a point.)
3. Let your spouse be imperfect.
Relax, man (or woman). You’re not perfect. Let your spouse be imperfect, too. Let little things be little things. Pick your battles carefully. If you can let something slide, let it. Love unconditionally.
4. Do what you did in the beginning.
Whatever you did to woo your woman or man at the start — keep it up. For Nat and I, we met as counselors for a church youth camp. We fell in love dancing around like monkeys. I wrote songs for her on the guitar. We taught and inspired others (the youth at the camp) to live more meaningful lives — in many ways, we were brought together by this common purpose and passion. I always respected her, praised her in public and in private, appreciated her and made sure to always tell her, “I love you.” Any time we have hit a rocky patch over the last 15 years, if we just get back to doing the types of things that brought us together in the first place, despite the difficulty in our lives, our marriage gets stronger.
5. Hold tight!
Marriage is a freakin’ roller coaster. My grandma and grandpa just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. When asked what their “secret” was, my grandpa immediately said, “Hold on!” That’s what it’s all about. Marriage, life in general, really, is a wild ride. Hang on tight!
6. Tell your spouse first.
I got this one from a nice old lady I met at church in the early years of our marriage. Her advice, “Whenever something good happens, tell your spouse before you tell anyone else.” I’ve worked hard to put this advice into practice — it’s an awesome way to remember who’s most important.
7. Disagreements happen. Just don’t let a simple disagreement turn into an all out war.
I’d wager that no married couple, the world over, could honestly say they’ve never had a disagreement. Nat and I are no exception. We’re both first children in our respective families. We both have strong opinions. We both want to be right. This combination can be a recipe for World War III. To avoid a nuclear attack, we have determined preset rules for when we disagree: 1) We never fight if we’re tired or hungry, 2) Forgive and make up as quickly as possible, 3) Don’t hold a grudge — aka don’t dig up old issues every time we have a new disagreement.
Commit to not letting a bad moment become a bad day (or week, month, year), by keeping a healthy perspective about disagreements. As Mr. or Mrs. Unknown once said, “Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.”
8. Have fun together.
Never let too many days go by without having real fun together. Whatever if takes, make fun a life priority.
Make dates a weekly (or more than weekly) event. This goes along with #8. You courted each other in the beginning — it worked then, and it will work now.
10. Look up to each other.
There is nothing like being told you’re looked up to. There is nothing like being genuinely admired. Magic happens when both husband and wife feel like their spouse stands on higher ground. Make the words “I love you” and “I respect you” and “I appreciate you” common, daily expressions.
11. Don’t let bumps in the road tear you apart, let them bring you together.
When our son Gavin died, we knew that this tragedy could tear us apart. We promised each other that we wouldn’t let that happen. It took (and takes) a lot of work, but we’ve made an intentional effort to make Gavin’s death bring us closer together. It has.
When you face an obstacle, remember, you are on the same team! Allow the challenges of life to bring you closer together by working as a team to make things better.
12. Be faithful.
Be faithful to your spouse in thought, word and deed — never stray. Don’t talk bad about your spouse to co-workers, neighbors, your mom or anyone else. Respect your spouse at all times and in all things and no matter what. Don’t say or do anything that your spouse would feel betrayed by in any way if he or she were to find out.
*If you are in a situation where you are in physical or emotional danger, talk to a trusted friend or family member. There are circumstances that warrant outside help, and there should be no shame in that.
13. Love is overrated, work to like each other too.
Natalie taught me, “Take time for yourself. Commit to personal enrichment and continuous personal learning and growth. If each spouse would consistently put in the work to be the very best ‘version’ of themselves they can be — physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually — more marriages would not only survive, they’d thrive.” Put in the work to take care of yourself and like your spouse.
14. Shut up and listen.
Listening IS the answer. Let me repeat that in case you weren’t listening. Listening IS the answer. Don’t jump in and try to save the day in the middle of a crucial conversation. Nine times out of an even ten, your spouse just needs to share the story.
Don’t worry about why that is. It’s just the way it is. When you try to “solve the problem,” you may just make things worse. You may just make your spouse feel as though the problem is simple and if s/he would only _______ everything would be fine. S/he doesn’t need that. S/he is coming to you for comfort and validation. S/he is coming to you to be reminded that s/he’s not in “it” alone.
Again — first, listen. Then, make sure your spouse understands that you understand. Then, if necessary, offer some new ideas — but only if s/he wants more ideas. Remember, when you listen intently, and make your spouse feel understood, you’ve usually already given your spouse exactly what s/he needs.
15. TIME is an acronym I created for Today Is My Everything.
You could say that TIME is our Norton family anthem. Simply put: You can’t do anything tomorrow. Nothing. Today is today. In fact, today IS yesterday’s tomorrow. Take TIME with your spouse, your family, for yourself and to focus on the important stuff. Click here for a cool, free TIME Mantra poster.
16. Loosen up (every day).
Yeah, yeah, yeah…I just told you to hold on tight and now I’m telling you to loosen up. Hold on tight to your spouse, but loosen your grip around his/her neck! Give em’ a break. You’re in this TOGETHER. Don’t suffocate the relationship with relentless nagging, unrealistic expectations or constantly playing the blame game. Shake it off. As necessary (daily!), go for a walk, get outside, clear your mind. You’re both better when you’re fresh and loose.
17. Honor your spouse (always).
Honor is the “respect that is given to someone who is admired” the “good quality or character as judged by other people” and “high moral standards of behavior.” What would it mean to you to be honored?What if you communicated that to your spouse? What if your spouse did that for you regularly? What if your spouse told you what if felt like and meant to them to be honored? What if you honored that? What if you had this conversation and renewed this commitment with your spouse? What if you did this today? Things would change for the better, people. Honor and be honored in return.
Simplicity is beautifully complex. It’s never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking. Simplicity requires tremendous brainpower, will and foresight. If you want an incredibly passionate, happy, alive marriage…don’t overcomplicate things. Once all is said and done, the foundational elements of a happy marriage are very simple: respect, forgiveness, service, love. Comparatively, everything else is froth. If you can focus on those simply complex elements of your relationship, everything else will fall into greater order and ease.
19. Bow low.
You make mistakes. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But the biggest mistake we can make is failing to acknowledge and repair what we’ve done wrong. You’ll gain respect — both self-respect and the respect of your spouse — when you take ownership or and do everything in your power to make right what you have wronged. “When you bow, bow low” (Chinese Proverb).
20. Be tomorrow’s version today.
How would your life change if you made decisions today as if you were already the person you want to become tomorrow? We tend to live up to our own feelings of ourselves (for better or for worse). If we plan to become something else, what better way to do so than to step into that skin now?
21. Get a daily equation.
There are certain things that you have to do each day in order to keep your “life current” moving in an intentional and positive direction. I’m not talking big picture goals (though those are important as well). Your daily equation isn’t meant to be anything fancy. It’s simply a handful of things that you know you have to do each day in order to keep your head above the water and a sense of purpose and momentum in your heart. Everyone’s equation will be different. Yours may include exercise, or having a healthy breakfast every morning. It may include reading inspiring works each day, or it may be ensuring that you drink enough water to stay well hydrated. Maybe enjoying 8 hours of sleep per night is non-negotiable for you. Your equation will be a combination of things you value and know bless your daily life. Whatever your equation includes, having these daily essentials in place in your life is one of the most important things you can do for a successful life (and as a wonderful bonus, a happy marriage).
This practice ensures that even when you go through your inevitable dips and woes, you’re not losing ground. You’re ensuring that you don’t fall into that dangerous place of inactivity (which leads quicker than we realize to regression). Your daily equation is the way that you make sure things stay steady.Like rails on a railroad track. Sticking to your daily equation keeps you from getting derailed. These essentials need to become habitual. So habitual that they are akin to breathing in and out. The train may slow down from time to time, it may even stop, but with your daily equation in place, you will never leave the track.
22. Forget “work-life balance.”
Work-life balance is flawed thinking. Your calendar is filled with empty meetings, hopes and dreams. Why? Because when you’re at work, you’re thinking about home. When you’re home, you’re thinking about work. When you’re at play, you punish yourself for not being at work or home. And when you’re at work or home, you’re wishing for a break to go play. Am I right?
Changing your schedule in a million different ways, over and over again, won’t necessarily change your life. Is scheduling important? Sure. But it’s NOT a magic bullet. No matter how you’ve divided your time in an effort to strike healthy balance, if your mind isn’t in sync with your body, you’ll never achieve the level of success you’re capable of.
Stop hyper-calendaring stuff in an effort to achieve work-life balance. It’s not really work-life balance you’re after anyway. You want what you think balance can give you: freedom and happiness.
If you want freedom and happiness, simply start paying attention to what you’re doing while you’re doing it. If you can pay attention to the things you’re doing while you’re doing them, you’ll reduce the amount of time it takes you to do the stuff you don’t want to do and give you more time to do the things you do. All the relationships in your business and personal life will be blessed, your marriage most of all.
23. Be humble and proud of it!
In a search for humility (a good thing), don’t lose touch of your self-worth and unique ability — humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive — they can coexist. “Poor is the man who does not know his own intrinsic worth and tends to measure everything by relative value. A man of financial wealth who values himself by his financial net worth is poorer than a poor man who values himself by his intrinsic self worth” (Sydney Madwed).
24. Put “party” on the schedule.
The Beastie Boys had it right: you gotta fight for your right to party. Marriage brings along responsibility: jobs, kids, bills (bills, bills, bills). You know. Grown up stuff. If you don’t have “party” on your list of things to do (weekly), your life is gonna start to suck. Sorry. It’s true. I’m not talking about going out and acting like an idiot to impress people you don’t care about. I’m talking about going out and acting awesome to impress the person you do care about…your spouse. Have fun. Kick back. Relax. It’s not going to happen unless you fight for it. Put “party” on the schedule.
25. Don’t be a roommate.
There’s a real thing called “roommate syndrome.” Basically, from what I gather, roommate syndrome is when a a married couple is living together, but living separate lives. That’s a slippery slope. Instead, have a shared vision for what you’d like your marriage to look like. What you like to achieve and how you can help each other get there. Natalie and I have different roles and responsibilities. We do different things. We have very different days. However, we’re working towards the same big picture goals. Don’t grow apart. Grow together.
26. Mix it up!
Go away for the weekend (or the month, or more!). See a weird movie. Eat a different kind of pizza. Do a dance. Learn a new skill. Travel somewhere random on one of those spontaneous cheap-flight deals. Sometimes is not the marriage that is boring, it’s your life. Don’t blame the marriage for your stagnation. Go do something different. Take initiative.
Forgiveness is hard. The hardest. Do it anyway. The greatest rewards come from doing the hardest of things.
28. Slow down, relax and take vacations…lots of them.
Long vacations are awesome. Short ones are too. Schedule time to take breaks. Take a weekend off, a day off, an hour off and just hang out together. Take time off alone, together, whatever, whenever. You need both alone time and together time. Whatever you do, take time to rejuvenate your soul. Spending time just doing nothing together has done a world of good for our marriage. Few things could be more important (and rewarding) to your relationship.
29. Be here, not there.
When you’re talking to your spouse, be present…don’t let your mind be off in another world. This one’s hard for me because my mind is always racing from one idea to another. Sometimes I get so caught up in my thoughts that I actually don’t hear people talking to me. True story. That said, I’ve asked Natalie to help me out when she notices that I can’t hear her or I don’t appear to be fully listening by using my name. From there, I do my best to focus on her and only her. I’m nowhere close to good at this, but when I refrain from thinking of what I’m going to say next and simply listen, our conversations seem to be way more productive.
30. Express deep gratitude.
Don’t let a day go by without expressing sincere gratitude for the little things (and big things) your spouse does.
31. Don’t be right.
How many fights start and end with whose right, when in the end, being right only pulls you apart and leaves you alone with your rightness? Does anyone really win in that situation? Next time you’re caught up in the “I’m right, you’re wrong” trap, remember the words of Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock, “It takes two to make a thing go right.”
32. Give each other courage.
I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m not talking about the dark. I’m talking about art. Creating. Business. Family. Getting out of my comfort zone. Being human. I need Natalie to give me courage. No man is an island and boy do I know it. Nat encourages me and helps me move from one stage of life to the next. We all need a boost. There should be no one better than you to give a boost to your spouse and vice versa.
33. Challenge yourself.
Everyday has the possibility of being the best day of your life. Everyday has the possibility of being better than the next. Gently challenge yourself to be a little better. Don’t nag your spouse or be self-righteous in your efforts. Don’t point out your spouse’s flaws. Simply be a little better spouse yourself. Look for specific ways you can improve your relationship and watch the magic happen.
34. Celebrate with each other.
Why wait to celebrate? Celebrate the small wins, the big wins and everything in between. Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!
35. Forgive each other.
Probably the single best advice any couple could receive.
36. Experience life TOGETHER.
We experience life TOGETHER. We celebrate successes TOGETHER. We suffer losses TOGETHER. We share our dreams TOGETHER. I don’t mean we are always physically together, what I mean is that we don’t lead separate (or secret) lives with separate dreams and separate goals. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have different lives, dreams and goals. It means that we share in one another’s lives, dreams and goals.
They say that an airplane off course 90% of the time. I have no idea if that is true or not, but the principle is that when a plane is off course, the pilots realign to get back on course. In a happy marriage, the husband and wife are co-pilots on this big airplane called Life; realign your lives together so you arrive at the same daily destination: happiness.
37. Praise each other (everyday).
Just today, Nat told me how much she appreciated a couple little things I did around the house. When I did those little things, I didn’t even think anything of it. However, because she pointed it out, not only did it validate what I was doing, it encouraged me to want to do more. Praise doesn’t have to come in the form of big gifts. And praise shouldn’t be withheld until a “special time.” Every time is a special time. Give praise openly and often–even with the little things–and watch the magic happen. Praise-giving creates a virtuous, upward spiral of good feelings towards one another and encourages additional kindness and additional acts of love.
38. Respect each other (always).
Could respect be more important than love? Could respect be the ultimate form of love? “Love” is so arbitrary. People fall into love and they fall out of love. But respect? Respect is different. Respect is ongoing. Don’t worry about respect being “earned.” If you chose to marry him or her, that respect has ALREADY been earned. Respect THAT. All the bickering, back-biting and snarky attitudes would disappear if we remembered to respect one another. If you’re having some issues, ask yourself if you’re doing your part to respect your spouse. Of course, it goes both ways. However, a good rule of thumb is to respect first and you’ll naturally be respected in return.
39. Get together and away from it all (often).
Remember what it was like dating? You could get away from everything else and just be together. I understand that with work, a mortgage, kids, school, debt, etc, that things are different now. But don’t let all those “responsibilities” get in the way of your most important responsibility — your spouse. Break away from the grind (together) at least once a week.
40. Have some freaking fun (fo realz).
What in the world? Why do couples get so BOOOOORING? Way to suck the life out of life, people! What does fun look like for Nat and me? Blasting the radio to a fun song in the car. Impromptu dance parties in the grocery store. Jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Playing the guitar and screaming loud enough to wake up the babies next door. Messing with the karaoke app on our phones. Weekend get aways. Having lunch together. “Candy Friday” — we have a family tradition to buy a bunch of candy and popcorn and have movie night with the family on Fridays (then we limit or eliminate sugar and junk food intake the rest of the week). It’s the little things, guys. Big things are cool too. But if there’s not a little spark in your day-to-day, a little spring in your step, you’re missing out on some good times.
41. Fill your phone with pictures of your spouse.
Soooooo, this one sounds a little weird. But it’s awesome. Nat and I have a collection of selfies we’ve taken together all over the world. Imagine how fun it would be to see selfies of your parents or grandparents together at different times of their lives? It’s cool. We also always take a picture together at the airport before one of us travels. We’ll post them to Instagram or we’ll just text them to each other. Your phone should be filled with pictures of your spouse.
It’s good to have a constant reminder that you carry around with you of what (or who) comes first in your life. There’s a cool app called ChatBooks (disclosure: my sister works there and this is NOT an affiliate link) where you can put pictures together and turn them into a book. You can print 60 pictures in a book for on only a few bucks (you can also print your Instagram feed). How cool would it be to have a little book of your own with pictures of each other together? Very cool.
42. When the going gets tough, remember Tuckman’s stages of group development.
Never heard of it? Here you go. This is a model for understanding the development stages of a team (especially through times of change). This model has pulled us through many challenging times. Marriage is a team sport. Teams go through transitions. Here’s the stages of a team’s development that I want you to consider when you’re going through a “storm.” Here’s my own summary with quotes from Wikipedia. I’m going to put in the word “marriage” every time it says “team” to make it more relevant:
First you FORM. “In the first stage of [marriage] building, the forming of the [marriage] takes place. The individual’s behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict.”
Then you STORM. “The storming stage is necessary to the growth of the [marriage]. It can be contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the [marriage] who are averse to conflict. Tolerance of each [marriage] member and their differences should be emphasized. Without tolerance and patience the [marriage] will fail.”
Then you NORM. “The [marriage] manages to have one goal and come to a mutual plan for the [marriage] at this stage. Some may have to give up their own ideas and agree with others to make the [marriage] function. In this stage, all [marriage] members take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the [marriage’s] goals.”
Then you PERFORM. “It is possible for some [marriages] to reach the performing stage. These high-performing [marriages] can function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision.”
What does all this mean to a marriage? To me, in our family, if we are going through a “storm,” I first recognize that it is a storm and just a storm. That the storm is a natural part of the process to eventually “norming” and then “performing.” With that optimistic perspective in place, I don’t let myself dive into a sink hole of despair when a storm begins to rage. I don’t immediately assume it’s the end of the world. I remember that it’s normal, and it’s just part of the process of marriage and family life. A storm will happen whenever change (aka: something new) comes into our lives.
I know this is long and somewhat involved, but if you’re going to remember anything from this tip, remember this: the storm will pass! Search for a common goal, work together towards that goal, and you and your spouse will come out better and stronger because of it.
43. Read together.
Movies are an obvious choice when you want to spend time together. It’s easy. But have you ever tried reading together? It’s different. I generally read too fast. Nat can’t understand anything I’m saying. So, Natalie will read (non-fiction, fiction, or scripture) aloud, and I’ll listen. It’s like going back in time. Though, when I say that to Natalie, she rolls her eyes at me. But really, it’s like time traveling to one of those strange British movies where everyone sits around reading poetry to each other all day. Why would anyone want to do that? Especially in today’s day and age when we have TV, Internet and iPhones (for crying out loud)? I don’t know, honestly. But the bottom line is that it brings us closer together. Period. We stop and chat about what we’re reading. We get insights about life. We apply what we learn to our own lives. It’s interesting. I’m not gonna lie to you and say it’s the most fun thing in the world (I’m working on getting more excited about it, because Natalie LOVES it so much), but there is no doubt that it does bring us closer together as a couple. Give it a try.
44. Take three deep breaths.
It’s so simple, yet so effective. In good times and bad, through thick and thin, remember to breathe. Seriously. Take at least three DEEP breaths whenever you start to feel anxious about something (anything). I don’t know what it is about breathing, but getting fresh oxygen to the brain is like magic. It clears emotions away and allows you to think more clearly, and it also gives you time to step back and reflect on the situation to ensure you make conscious, proactive, wise decisions moving forward (the alternative to which would be rash, regrettable, reactive decisions — so breathing deep is well advised, wouldn’t you say?). Take three deep, conscious breaths right now, and you’ll see what I mean.
45. Serve each other.
Not like slave labor. Not with a chip on your shoulder. Not with animosity or a desire to prove one thing or another. Rather, look for ways to meaningfully serve one another. Find out your spouse’s love language (gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch) and serve your spouse according to the love language that means most to him/her.
46. Admire each other.
Don’t just love each other. Don’t just like each other. Don’t just respect each other. ADMIRE each other. Admiration is like loving and liking and respecting all wrapped together in one. Take a moment to think about (or actually list) the qualities you see in your spouse that make you admire him/her. What is it about your spouse that makes you look up to him/her? If you can both look up to each other, you’re gonna be okay, even when the going gets rougher than rough.
47. Slow down.
Life’s short. Too short. And even though that saying is cliché, it doesn’t make it any less true. Ask anyone whose spouse has left this earth too soon. Life is precious. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life at the expense of the sweetness of spending down time together. So, slow down. I don’t mean you have to be less ambitious or dial down your goals. Quite the opposite. Set ambitious, aggressive, attainable goals to spend quality time with your spouse! Schedule it. And if that seems impossible, start by being PRESENT when you are together. Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. Put the computer away. Then sit and look each other in the eyes. Ask each other questions. Get to know each other all over again (and again, and again, and again). It’s worth it (every single time).
BONUS 48 — A POEM
Marriage isn’t always easy. I love this poem about the strength we can gain through adversity. Enjoy!
The tree that never had to fight,
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out on the open plain,
And always got it’s share of rain,
Never became a forest king,
But lives and dies a scrawny thing.
The man who never had to toil,
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share,
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man,
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow in ease,
The stronger the wind, the stronger trees
The farther sky, the greater the length
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In tree and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and of much strife —
This is the common law of life.
– Douglas Mallock
No one corners the market on marriage advice. I’d love to hear what works for you (and what doesn’t) in the comments.
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