9 Success Factors after Saying "I Do"
- Monday, January 07, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dan Seaborn and Peter Newhouse's new book, The Necessary Nine: How to Stay Happily Married for Life!, (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2007).
Now that you’ve found your spouse, you want to stay together the rest of your lives, enjoying a happy marriage. But good intentions alone aren’t enough to get you there. After you say “I do,” there are some things you must do to build a great marriage.
Here are nine factors that will help you and your spouse enjoy a happy marriage that lasts:
Establish cherishing attitudes. Honestly ask yourself what your marriage is worth to you. Once you realize how important it truly is, decide to do all you can to invest in it by showing your spouse how much you value him or her. Think about the ways you’ve invalidated your spouse lately, through disrespectful behaviors like rolling your eyes, name-calling, cursing, mocking, ridiculing, comparing unfavorably to others, being physically aggressive, assuming the worst, neglecting, ignoring, etc. Once you recognize your pattern of invalidating your spouse, commit to stop each specific invalidating behavior.
Ask God to help you respect and cherish your spouse. Let your spouse know regularly that he or she is important to you. Decide to cherish your spouse regardless of whether or not your spouse is currently cherishing you or whether or not you feel like your spouse deserves it. Offer a cherishing attitude to your spouse as a gift given unconditionally. Pray for the ability to refrain from invalidating behaviors, focus on your spouse’s good qualities and express appreciation for them.
Pursue financial security. Keep in mind that your marriage is more important than your money. Consider whether or not your financial decisions are making your marriage better. Ask: “When you disagree about money matters, do you resolve the conflict in a way that reduces stress and arguments?”, “Do your financial priorities foster unity and bring you closer together?”, “Do your spending habits promote honesty between the two of you?,” “Do you each show appreciation for the contributions that your spouse brings to the finances (through income, saving, etc.)?”, “Are you adequately preparing for your future together (children, medical expenses, emergencies, retirement)?”, “Do you challenge each other to be less selfish and more giving with money?”, “and “Do your financial habits reflect both of your individual needs for security?”
Pursue financial security for the sake of a better marriage, but never compromise your marriage for the sake of money. The next time you get into a disagreement about money, hold hands while you talk to defuse tension. Make sure you notice and compliment your spouse whenever he or she does something to improve your finances, such as saving money on a purchase or working overtime. Mutually decide on what amount of money neither of you should spend without discussing it with each other first. Choose one or several charities or other organizations to support financially together. If you identify a destructive pattern in the way you handle finances that continually threatens your marriage, do whatever you can to solve the problem (visit a financial planner, eliminate credit cards, downsize to a smaller house or car, etc.).
Discover sexual satisfaction. Realize that sexual satisfaction always grows out of a loving, nurturing relationship rather than just a quest for personal fulfillment. Think of how you can best love your spouse instead of what you can get out of your relationship. Remember that an extraordinary marriage requires sacrifice and selflessness. Talk honestly with your spouse about what’s good and what’s not in your sex life. Lovingly share concerns. Pursue a sex life that capitalizes on the strengths both of you bring to it. Aim for sex that connects you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you’re a husband, let your wife know why she’s special to you, recognize when it’s not the right time for sex, don’t rush lovemaking, and emphasize the love and connection you share. If you’re a wife, acknowledge the intensity of your husband’s sex drive and enjoy the fact that he’s attracted to you, do your best to be available when he wants intimacy, be playful, and don’t hesitate to initiate intimacy sometimes.
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