A marriage is a terrible thing to waste, especially when there are children involved. People enter into marriages all the time with such optimism, but realize that perhaps they were overly optimistic. Maybe you barely even knew the person, but you said you did because you had passion for them. However, marriage is not about passion – that’s just part of it. Marriage is about two healthy people learning to live together and take on struggles together. They don’t turn on each other – they turn to each other.
I want to talk about some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to marriage:
1. Before you get married, the various things that make you “you” get exercised with a number of different people in your life. For example, you’ve got a friend you play golf with, somebody else you go beading with, somebody you talk to about politics, and somebody you share your religion with. Well, do you know what happens when you get married? You have the expectation that your spouse is now supposed to be the whole package, having all the accessories in life. Your spouse should definitely be your best friend – no question about that – but not your only friend. Some other people might be better mentors, workout partners, antiquing buddies, etc.
2. Sabotaging trust. Love brought you together, but lack of trust will terminate everything. Trust is all about the small things – hiding store receipts, telling small lies, and casual flirting. If your spouse sees that you’re dishonest with the small things, they make the assumption you’re a big risk for the big things. Be open and honest about the small things, and that way, you won’t be doubted.
3. Breaching privacy. How many times have you heard me yelling at people on my show because they told their mother/father/sister/uncle/cousin/friend or posted on Facebook about what their husband or wife did? They humiliated their spouse in public, made others think less of them, and now they’re wondering why their relationship stinks. Don’t put your spouse in the position of feeling exposed and betrayed. Don’t talk to friends and family about private things. Just don’t.
4. Throwing around the “divorce” word every time you get pissy. In the beginning of people’s marriages, even little disappointments and slights can turn into big arguments. It’s no wonder why so many people call my show saying, “We’ve only been married a short amount of time and we’re fighting all the time.” It’s because they went into the marriage with certain expectations, and then reality hit. Their illusions about “he’s perfect…she’s perfect…it’s perfect” get dented and bruised, and they become angry about feeling let down, trapped, frustrated, and betrayed. However, you have to see this as just “real people time.” Don’t be throwing around “divorce” every time you have a disagreement. Emotions can run high if you’re not good at resolving conflicts together. In your minds, you should both be saying, “Divorce is not an option. We must work to find a way to work through this.”
5. Insisting on being right. Some of you folks do this like you’re arguing about what’s the best Italian restaurant in town. Constantly insisting that you’re right, that your opinion is the correct one, or that your way is the best way is a quickie way to make your spouse feel undervalued and underestimated. If you find yourself in this situation, whether it’s during a heated argument or just a friendly debate, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right or happy?”
6. You don’t spend enough time slurping each other. When I talk to people on the radio, I don’t ask them if they are their spouse’s husband or wife – I ask them if they are their “husband’s girlfriend” or their “wife’s boyfriend.” What I’m implying is whether or not they do all the flirting, slurping, complementing touching, cuddling, tickling, and smiling people do when they’re somebody’s girlfriend or boyfriend. These are things that people tend not to do with their wife or husband. It’s probably the biggest thing people admit to after going through a divorce: they know they weren’t slurpy enough.
If you’re thinking about getting married or contemplating why the hell your marriage isn’t going well, read my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage, in addition to these tips. Trust me, it’s really worth it.