5 Tips for Newly Married Couples
We're continuing with our Valentine's Day relationship articles. Today's topic is for couples.
Keep these five tips in mind to maintain a godly perspective on your union.
1. Marriage, like any relationship, requires effort.
Either party can sabotage a relationship, but it requires a joint effort to make it successful. Ironically, both sabotage and success require "effort;" you have to decide if you want to put your efforts toward building the relationship or tearing it down. And. by the way, don't be drawn into thinking that "doing nothing" keeps your relationship stable. "Doing nothing" is basically sabotage masquerading behind a softer name. Remember, the amount of effort required is directly proportionate to how badly you want to the relationship to succeed or fail.
2. Honest communication is key.
This doesn't mean you have to share every thought or feeling that you're experiencing. What it does mean is that, unless you're 100 percent honest in the relationship—no secrets!—you're setting yourself up for failure. Not failure in the short term, because anyone can keep a secret or two, but over time, important secrets harden the heart. The way you share your thoughts or feelings makes a difference. Data dumping (rambling on and on as your partner's eyes glaze over) is not sharing. Conversely, one-word answers do not make for good conversation. Conversation is about listening to the other person rather than thinking of a response to defend your position while the other is speaking!
3. Compromise is a challenging yet rewarding behavior.
For someone who has a strong will or who is fiercely competitive or hard-headed by nature, compromise can feel like losing. For the humble, soft spoken, and mild-mannered, it can feel equally unfair. The art of compromise is about the willingness of both parties to equally yield to each other because of their love for each other. If you position each discussion, each decision, each interaction as a "win/lose" proposition, the relationship turns into a competition—not a winning approach to a sustained relationship! As soon as one feels the balance has tipped, resentment grows and genuine love begins to leave the relationship. It can't be about getting your way or winning all the time. Focus on the bigger picture and the long-term desired outcome. You may have taken the hill in battle, but you'll lose the war! Compromise because you love the other person so much; you're willing to "give in" because it's in the best interest of the relationship. As long as your partner does the same, the relationship grows stronger and you both win.
4. You don't have to have the exact same interests, but shared goals are a must.
Although it's great to have similar interests and hobbies, it's also OK to have different ones as well. A marriage is the joining together of two different people. As a result, both can complement and help make the other more complete if you're willing to take an interest in the things that your partner likes. When one person likes music and art while the other likes sports and cooking, you've found the perfect opportunity to learn something new by engaging your partner and sharing in their passion or interests. Conversely, sharing common goals provides a unity of purpose and direction. Think of common goals as a relational compass that points in the same direction (for example, a desire to raise children, shared religious/spiritual views, shared financial philosophy, etc.).
5. If you focus on ALL of life's challenges, you'll soon be overwhelmed.
I'm not suggesting that you bury your head in the sand, but constantly focusing on the negative will quickly pull you into life's downward spiral. As an individual and as a couple, you need distractions from the pressure and stress of everyday life. Going to church together to remind yourself that God has you (and all your problems) in the palm of His hand, reading, praying, and meditating on the goodness of God and thanking Him each day, can be relaxing. Conversely, don't convince yourself that watching TV or reading a novel every night is the solution. Although it can be relaxing, it can also draw you into another world or lead you toward isolation. Plan to do things together. Go places, get away for a few days, take time out for dinner, spend time with friends, or do things that interest both of you. Doing these things together all help provide balance for our busy lives. (And yes, it's OK to do things without your spouse, but make sure they understand why you're doing it and with whom.)