Practice loving, forgiving and being less critical towards others in your life as well, being mindful that we ALL make mistakes.

Embrace the JOYFUL side of life; have gratitude for all that is good around you. Recognize your blessings, even amidst the hardships and frustrations that are an inevitable part of life.

Choose a PEACEFUL existence. Make decisions that simplify your lives and allow you to experience more peace in your daily walk with God and with one another. Choose friends and activities that enhance your peace, rather than rob you of it. Live within your means, so that you can eliminate concerns about money. 

Be PATIENT with one another, remembering that you are each on your own separate spiritual journeys, even as you walk this path together. You will discover enlightenment at a different pace, but you can help each other to learn and to grow.

Treat one another with KINDNESS; speak lovingly and respectfully to each other using a calm, caring, and considerate tone of voice. Let your love be evident to one another and to others by the manner in which you speak to each other.

Let GOODNESS dictate your decisions so that you are virtuous, honorable and defined by integrity in all aspects of your life. Your professional, as well as your personal life, should reflect an honest, noble and ethical value system.

Be FAITHFUL and true in your commitment to God and to one another. Do not allow work, hobbies, outside interests or the allure of others to sabotage the covenant you have made together. Honor your vows by staying devoted to one another and to your marriage. Give one another your time and your talents, putting your marriage before the demands and temptations of this world.

Approach disagreements and difficulties with a GENTLE, compassionate, understanding spirit. Be sympathetic to one another’s problems and challenges, and considerate of one another’s needs. Cooperate with each other and be willing to compromise for the sake of your marriage.

Exercise SELF-CONTROL when you are angry, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, or tempted. Put yourself in the other person’s place and try to imagine the impact of your words and actions. Take care to choose what you say, how you say it; and what you do, very carefully. Don’t elect to “win the battle” and in the process, “lose the war”. Weigh your words and actions carefully; they will have an effect on your spouse and your marriage. Make positive choices rather than negative ones—err on the side of love, forgiveness and commitment to your marriage.  

You may have realized as you were reading, that adopting these attributes requires a mature perspective and viewpoint. It calls for putting aside your selfish inclinations and committing yourself to a cause greater than yourself. It involves thinking about someone else and how your actions affect them. It means that you must learn to communicate more constructively, taking care to temper your emotions so that your message is delivered and received in a positive and beneficial manner.

Incorporating these qualities into your marriage and your daily life will not be easy, and it will take lots of practice! I find that I need God’s help on a regular basis to consistently put me back on track. But a commitment to these values will enhance and enrich your union and even the quality of your daily existence.

So before you say, “I Do”, and especially afterwards, spend time on “planning” your marriage. Make the choice together to embrace the essential qualities of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

Use them as a guide to keep you on the right path when you stumble and fall. And let them be a litmus test to illuminate the source of any problems that arise. Most every difficulty can be traced back to a deficiency or weakness in one of these areas.

By adopting these characteristics and making them part of your “marriage plan,” you will have chosen a sturdy framework, a pattern of behavior that will enhance your relationship, help you to pinpoint the cause of your difficulties, and support you on your journey towards an enduring, successful, and happy marriage.  

“Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth.” ~ Ecclesiastes 8:9

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister.  Please visit her website for additional “Reflections” on Life and Marriage.  She has just finished the first draft of her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life.