© 1998 Dick Wulf, MSW, LCSW
1. Adopt a significant purpose for your marriage that will require you to work together to achieve it; something very important to both of you. Don't be married just to have fun together or just for the passion - someone else can step into that purpose.
2. I suggest the purpose of helping one another enjoy life, heal from past hurts, and achieve dreams. Help the other person over the few internal messages that are ruining his or her success and enjoyment of life.
3. If you make your marriage one of being each other's helper, don't criticize - help! You are not competitors and you are more than mere business partners.
4. See your marriage as a whole, not two separate people who are totally independent of one another, but two people who are able to be independent but choose to be married to do things together and help one another enjoy life.
5. Always keep both of your lives and needs in mind, not just your own and not just the other's. Use the split television screen model of keeping both yourself and your spouse in mind at all times.
6. Don't make your spouse your whole life or responsible for your happiness. That's a formula for disaster. You will smoother the person, and it is not fair to make someone else so responsible for your own happiness. So, don't base your personal security in being loved by your spouse. Your security in the marriage relationship should be based much more on how helpful you both are to each other in life. Being over-dependent upon your spouse is a sure way to tear down your marriage.
7. Build a foundation of respect for your marriage. Always act like the other person is very important, and as important as you. Also, believe that you are as important as the other, although it is helpful to look out for the other person a bit more than you look out for your own needs. And remember that the other person is unique and not a carbon copy of you. His or her needs are likely quite different. And that is okay.
8. Because you both are different and see things differently because of the variation in your personalities and life experiences, try to ask a couple of questions before responding to your spouse. This way you can make sure you are responding to what is really being said in words or even in behavior.
9. Learn to dialogue purely to learn about one another. Learn to appreciate your differences.
10. How we see things, think about things and feel about things is not the only way - and is often not a correct or healthy way. Don't hang onto your perceptions, thoughts or feelings just because you are afraid of being wrong. Being wrong and admitting it is doing something right! There is great freedom in thinking about things with more accuracy. Don't close your mind to other ways of viewing things.
11. Own and admit your mistakes. You look really foolish when you don't. If you have made a mistake, apologize and make it right. Then go on with life.
12. Back up your marriage with fun and service together. This will hold you together during the tough times. Have a regular date night. And, don't back away from what worked for you in the good times. To do so is a breech of contract, since it was probably an unspoken promise to always be considerate or to do enjoyable things. Never consider courtship as a time when you were more considerate. It was a promise to become even better in marriage.
13. Solve problems rather than "get after" one another. Never win an argument. Never tear down; only build the other up. If your partner is your helper, why would you ever want him or her to feel stupid or inadequate? Never hurt your helper! You will be the loser in the end.
14. Use innocent questions and curiosity to defuse troublesome situations. Don't criticize, it doesn't help. Instead, make your needs or desires known and ask if the other person would mind changing to help you out.
15. Don't step on one another's dreams. Dreams are seldom threats to the relationship. Help your spouse think through and accomplish dreams. When a dream must be dropped, make sure your spouse has some dreams left. If not, help your partner develop some new, more realistic dreams.
16. Learn the joy of the other person's happiness.
17. See that your needs as well as your spouse's needs are identified. Then talk about them to make them reasonable and easier to fulfill.
18. Solve problems rather than "get after" one another.
19. Feelings are useful. Their expression is sometimes helpful, but their recognition can always be helpful - if they lead to problem-solving.
20. Problems usually don't have to be solved RIGHT NOW. Honor time-out requests. It is easy for people to become confused, scared, etc.
21. Problems can be best be solved LATER when no one is defensive, scared or feels "caught red-handed". It is best to talk things over when the relationship is secure and feels safe. Taking time also allows you to figure out how to bring things up as problem-solving and not as accusations and indictments.
22. Seek a win--win solution through creativity. Don't insist on your way, but find a way for both sets of needs or desires to be met.
23. Solve problems only after you know the other person's thoughts and feelings as well as you know your own. It is very unwise to think that you can understand the other person's position without his or her active participation in communication.
24. Ask questions to thoroughly understand your partner's position. Help the other person to explain in such a way that you can understand. When your partner is satisfied that you understand his or her position, state your own position and ask your partner to work at understanding your position. Then, and only then, begin to look for a solution.
25. Never try to change your spouse; help your spouse make his or her own changes.
26. Cut some slack for your partner and give credit based on the difficulty the other has in trying new things and changing.
27. Let each other be irritable once in a while. Don't get upset - help! Be tough enough to be hurt once in a while and not moan about it.
28. Put up with one another while you are communicating about changes. Put up with the other person's uniqueness. Only ask for changes in the big things. Otherwise, let the other person be.
29. Be sure of yourself and don't react with defensiveness. This is easier said than done, but it is worth its weight in gold! If you are wrong admit it. If you are not wrong, stay calm and give the other person information rather than become defensive. Being defensive will only make you look like you are lying or covering up.
30. Don't bring things up to force an insincere apology. That is usually only a way of winning. And, remember, winning is really losing down the road.
31. There are no good excuses for dysfunctional behavior. Learn to be in control of how you act more and more as you go through life. Try to act consistent with the person you want to be, regardless of someone else's behavior. Don't react to people. Respond to people only after you have reacted to who you want to be, your own principles or to God.
32. Forgive and go on. Everybody does insensitive things continually. Don't store things up - forgive and put them out of your mind. Life is too short.
33. Remember that forgiveness doesn't mean that you are going to trust someone before they prove their trustworthiness.
34. Falling out of love is not the disaster it seems like. Falling out of love is most likely a signal that you and your spouse have never been in love in the proper sense of being in love. So, falling out of love is a good thing if you will both then pursue together true love which is deeper and not so vulnerable to destruction.
PLEASE TRY TO REMEMBER THESE THINGS
TO ASSURE A REWARDING MARRIAGE
TO ASSURE A REWARDING MARRIAGE