With the current divorce rate standing at 50 percent of marriages, you might wonder if your marriage is worth fighting for at all. Serving and caring for your spouse takes a lifetime of effort and humility, but at the end of your life, you will look back and realize it has been a life well-lived. If you want to fight for your marriage, here are some ways to keep it strong.
Embrace the Unexpected
If there’s one thing you can expect in life, it’s that unexpected things will happen. For couples, unexpected events, both positive and negative, can have a straining effect on your relationship, unless you know how to embrace these events and lean into them together. For example, if you experience a tragedy together, such as the loss of a loved one, it’s important to mourn together, instead of isolating yourself and refusing the help of your spouse.
On the other hand, if, for example, one of you receives a promotion and suddenly has a lot more income, don’t let the newfound success divide you due to money issues. Rejoice with one another’s successes, and use some of that new money to look outside of yourselves by serving others.
Serve One Another
No matter how much you think you can accomplish in a single day, there will always be more on your ongoing mental to-do list that you won’t get done. Something good to know is that your spouse also has one of those mental to-do lists that is never getting completed, and your spouse would sure appreciate your help in getting some of their list crossed off.
If you know your spouse at all, you probably already know some of the things that are on their to-do list, so you could get them done without even asking or being asked. However, if you honestly don’t know, just asking them about what is on their list is a great first step in serving them. Then, do something about it. Put your own list on hold, and do the dirty work of serving your spouse, whether it’s doing the dishes, washing the car, or making the bed.
Never Stop Dating Each Other
One of the easiest ways to bring a relationship crashing down is to zap all the joy and excitement from it. Not that each moment in your relationship needs to be exciting or joyful- far from it. However, if all you ever experience with your spouse is the boring routine of everyday life, it will be much easier to give up on your relationship when times get tough.
So, spice things up with your spouse by continually dating them. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go somewhere on a date, though that’s part of it. It also means leaving love notes in their sock drawer for them to find at unexpected times, it means lingering in your kiss for a few extra seconds before you head out the door in the morning, and it means showering them with gifts- not necessarily expensive, but meaningful gifts that show you are constantly paying attention to them and learning more about them.
Keep a Clean Slate
Another dangerous habit to fall into is regularly keeping important things a secret from your spouse. One of the most common things that spouses keep a secret from each other is an addiction to some vice. Whether it be alcohol, shopping, pornography, or what have you, an addiction, left unchecked, can quickly come between you and your spouse.
It’s not enough to just tell them about your addiction, though. You must, of course, work to eliminate that addiction. You can’t do it alone, either, you must “air your dirty laundry” in a way that brings both your successes and failures into the light, so that those around you can help you move on.
For alcohol, this might mean using something like a Soberlink device, which monitors your BAC, and allows partners to monitor it, as well. For shopping, this might mean putting all your money in a joint account, and setting strict spending limits. Whatever your addiction, there is a solution. Embrace that solution, with the help of your spouse, so you both grow stronger as a result.
Many people see love as simply an emotion that ebbs and flows. The problem with this view is that, if love can ebb and flow, that means your love and feelings toward your spouse can ebb and flow, as well. True love, however, is a decision you make with your mind to cherish and care for another person, no matter what the current situation might dictate.
If love is a decision, then, it follows that making that decision more often will improve your ability to truly love your spouse. So, while you reserve your most special love for your spouse, it is important to find others to choose to love as well, to allow your love to grow. This means serving those on the margins, such as the poor and homeless. This means loving your children, if you have them, in an exemplary fashion. This also means loving those that are hard to love, even when you don’t see eye-to-eye with them. Love isn’t always easy, but doing it more often will make it a strong habit that shows up in the way you love your spouse.
True love is the foundation for a relationship with your spouse that lasts a lifetime. None of these tips make any sense in the absence of true love. So, work on making the decision to truly love your spouse each and every day, both in the midst of the situations listed above, and when all is quiet and still. As your love for one another grows, so will the outpouring of that love to the many other people in your life that matter most.