I get asked all the time what the secret is to a good marriage.  And while my marriage is nowhere near perfect, we have definitely improved over the last 17 years in making it a consistently happy one. I think what people see in our marriage that they want for themselves is that we enjoy each other. And it’s actually pretty easy to maintain, but you have to do some work to get there.

The first subject I want to tackle is how you speak about your spouse.  I start here because, for us, it caused the greatest amount of conflict our marriage has seen. And it was all MY fault.

I just thought it was something women did, gripe about the guys to each other. 

“He hasn’t mowed in 3 weeks.”

 “He didn’t help me carry in groceries.” 

“He never lets me…” 

“He won’t…”

“He can’t…”

I couldn’t have been more wrong. While it may, in fact, be something people do, it is not conducive to a healthy marriage. 

What happens when you engage in the act of complaining about your spouse? Lots of things:

  • It WILL get back to him/her.
  • Their feelings will be hurt.
  • The first thing people will think of when they see your spouse are those negative descriptions YOU have provided them.
  • You start to really focus on those negative things more than the positive things about your marriage.
  • Your family will resent him/her. They CANNOT be objective. 
  • People will think you are petty.
  • What worked for us:

    • I quit complaining. Seriously. This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a habit unfortunately. I will probably always be working on this one to some extent.
    • I build him up to my friends and family. (It is one of my favorite things to hear “you have a good one there, Amanda”) Even if he just slept until noon and forgot to take out the trash today!
    • I praise him in front of people!  His family. My family. Friends. Coworkers.
    • I started to thank him for the all the things he does; taking out the trash, mowing, making dinner, making the bed. You’ll be surprised at the reaction you get.
    • Learn to communicate. If the two of you are effectively communicating, you can take your issues directly to the source.

    When it comes right down to it, there is no quick fix for repairing the damage you have done by bad-mouthing your spouse. It can takes months, sometimes even years to earn back that trust. My advice to you would be to never get into the habit to begin with. But if you have, you CAN fix things. Be patient. Be considerate. Respect your spouse. LOVE your spouse and choose your words wisely.

    Peace and love, everyone!

    Amanda

    *next week: Fighting Fair

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