It amazes me at how many couples take marriage for granted, especially the couples who enter the marriage with challenges, such as kids and ex-spouses. For some reason, most are convinced that love some how conquers all and once it gets difficult, it must mean that you just don’t love each other anymore. Perhaps it’s the reason that our divorce rate in America is so high and the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher. Listen closely because I am about to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Marriage is hard and remarriage is even harder. Both take continuous effort on both participants’ parts to build a strong union. Below are ten tips to help you build a strong (re)marriage.
Learn to Forgive
This is probably one of, if not the most important tip to maintaining a successful marriage. Forgiveness is essential to truly moving past any hurt that your spouse may have caused you. The truth is people hurt people all the time, be it intentionally or unintentionally; and because marriage involves two people, it is no different. Therefore, if you decide to stay married after the hurtful behavior then you have to make a decision to forgive and let it go. There is no room in your marriage for holding grudges.
Do Things Together
A strong union requires that the two people actually spend time together and like it. Spend time with your spouse doing or learning about something that you enjoy doing together. Take a dance class together, or buy a cookbook and prepare a different dish together every month. Do things that require team work, touching and communicating but are fun as well. Learning something new together helps to build memories as a couple and strengthens your bond.
Relive Old Memories
When you’re stuck in a rut it’s hard to remember the good times, but doing so can often times bring you out of that rut. Every now and then, bring up an old funny story that involves you both. Talk about your honeymoon or your first kiss or the first time one of you did something silly in front of the other. These serve as little reminders that the person you fell in love with and married is still in there somewhere.
Talk – A LOT
When you ask your spouse how his or her day was, act like you really want to know the answer. By that same token, when you tell your spouse about your day, avoid the “it was good” answers. Instead briefly let each other into your respective worlds while you were away from each other. Tell that funny story about a co-worker. Talk about something interesting you heard or the news. Describe something cute that the baby did. Engaging in friendly conversation (not about bills or problems) is way of maintaining your connection.
Be Kind and Generous
This one seems kind of funny to mention, huh? Well, you’d be surprised at how many couples show kindness to people outside of their marriage, such as co-workers, soccer coaches or the Walmart cashier, but take their spouses for granted. Be kind, thoughtful and generous to each other. If you get a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, take one to your spouse too, without him or her asking. On your way home from work, pick up your spouse’s favorite candy bar or magazine – just because. Cherish and treat each other like the king and queen that you both are.
Focus on What You Like About Each Other
I often hear from couples that they each only notice and point out each other’s mistakes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having my mistakes constantly thrown up in my face. If all you do is remind your spouse of their mistakes and wrongdoings, they’ll begin to question why you even want to be with him or her in the first place. Instead, focus on what each of you do that you like and make it a point to verbalize that you to your spouse.
The old saying, “laughter is the best medicine” is so true. Be silly and goofy with and around each other. The couple who can laugh together and actually be friends, holds the key to longevity.
In a (re)marriage, there is no room for divided loyalties! If your marriage is under attack by an ex-spouse, in-law or even your respective children, stick together during these stressful times. Decide how you’re going to handle the situation and then present a united front. During stressful times remember that you are both on the same team so stick together.
Learn to Say I’m Sorry
You’d be surprised at how impactful those three little words are. As a matter of fact sometimes the words, “I am sorry” are more meaningful and powerful than “I love you.” If you had a bad day and you know you just berated your spouse for no reason, make it a point to apologize. Admitting when you are wrong shows humility and can help to build trust in your relationship.
Write it Down
It is essential that you remain on the same page (or at least in the same book) with your spouse on all issues, especially those involving the kids. Discuss rules and consequences for the kids, including bedtimes, homework times, computer and video time and allowance and write it down. Writing it down and placing it in an area that is visible to you both helps to keep you on the same page.