Did you hear the news this morning? It’s all about Brangelina and how Brangelina will be no longer. They are calling it quits, which although is newsworthy, apparently, it’s also so heartbreaking. I have always loved them because we have a large family in common. They with their six kids, and us with our eight, thus far, and I know raising an army isn’t always easy. So, hearing the Brangelina news this morning struck a nerve with me.
While I didn’t read anything about their reasons for calling it quits, it really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t know anything about their marriage or their relationship. I also don’t know about their kids or their parenting style, but I do know a little something about being married. How? Because in just a couple of weeks, my husband and I will be celebrating 21 years of marriage.
First off, I am making the assumption that like I, you entered into marriage with the intention of it being a lifelong commitment. It is with this in mind that we will move forward.
The reality is, being married is hard work. You have two people who are often very different, and natural human tendency is to be selfish as well. Mix in some life issues like job loss, moving across country, the loss of loved ones, major health issues, and so many more, and you can have a real recipe for disaster. It really is no surprise that Brangelina are calling it quits.
In fact, how can anyone stay married with this recipe for disaster?
The short answer is: commitment, intention, and work. It really is as simple as that.
I can do one better (actually 10 better) because these are the 10 best tips on marriage I’ve got after being married for 21 years. This is also 7,665 days, 183,960 hours, and 11,037,600 minutes, but who’s counting?!
Here is how NOT to end up like Brangelina:
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Learn about love languages
Most times couple speak different love languages, which means that it can be a real challenge to feel loved by the other person. You can both be trying your hardest to show the other how much you love them, but they have no idea what you’re really saying since your languages are totally different. Just as it would be impossible to understand our spouse speaking in Latin if you only know English, it can be literally impossible to hear and understand one another when it comes to showing and accepting love. Check out this book. It’s exactly what you need for this.
Be on the same team
You are not enemies. I will never forget being at a marriage conference once when the speaker instructed us to look into each other’s eyes and say, “You are not my enemy.” It was such a powerful thing because sometimes we really do look at the other person as our enemy, don’t we? Even if you have to repeat this to yourself out loud, remember that your spouse is not your enemy, you are not on opposing teams, and that you are on the same team.
Don’t keep score
I think part of being human is the tendency to keep score. We always think we have it worse, don’t we? I know I’m guilty. I do more, I work more, I sleep less, I work with the kids more, I cook more, I clean more, and the list could go on and on. Interestingly, my husband could also choose to look at things through the lens that he does more in all kinds of areas. What good comes from this? None. Don’t keep score. Just don’t do it, it’s really that simple.
Give more than you get
No matter what it is, just approach it as you are going to give more than you get, and then do it. This is along with the same lines of keeping score. Marriage that is 50/50 will never make it because both spouses have a different measuring stick. You must approach marriage as you are giving it 100% all day every day in order to not end up like Brangelina.
Honesty is not always the best policy
Of course in many areas of marriage it is. In fact, marriage has to be built on the foundation of honesty, however, we can also use honesty as a weapon. We can use honesty as a way to manipulate, a way to wound, or a way to punish the other person. It is in this context that honesty is not always the best policy. Many things shouldn’t be said. Remember, we are naturally selfish in the things we think. For this reason, some things are better left unsaid. Dropping a hurtful comment because “I’m just being honest” is not a good thing in marriage.
Don’t throw around the “D” word
Remember how I am assuming that you’re in it for the long haul as I mentioned in the beginning? With this assumption, the word “divorce” should not be thrown around lightly, or at all for that matter. It is unhealthy, yet common, to do this as a means to manipulate, punish, or hurt the other person, and it only damages the relationship deeply. Neither partner should ever have to wonder about the commitment of their spouse because they have threatened with the “D” word.
Sleep in the same bed
Of course there are special circumstances, believe me I know this one since my husband worked third shift for years. I am more referring to not sleeping in the same bed because you are punishing your spouse. You are not sleeping in the same bed as a means of communicating that you are angry, that you want your spouse to do or not do something, or again, just as a means to punish them. Again there are other reasons, of course, but if you are both sleeping under the same roof at the same time, you should be sleeping in the same bed.
This is such a good practice to get into. Notice I didn’t say a daily dumping. A daily debriefing is just making a habit to get on the same page with one another once a day. I know a couple who does this over a glass of wine while the kids are watching a show for about 15 minutes every day shortly after he gets home from work. Without a daily debriefing, small things can turn into big things. Getting realigned with one another every day takes a bit of planning, but to avoid being Brangelina it is a great thing to do.
Regular date nights
Before you got married, I’m guessing you went on dates. It’s still important, although I know they often become much more inconvenient. Regular date nights simply communicates to yourselves and to each other that you matter…and that you’re willing to make your marriage a priority. They don’t have to be regular or fancy, but they do need to be regular. Try reading 10 Secrets to Make Date Night a Priority in Your Marriage and 25 Free and Frugal Date Night Ideas.
I’m not referring to clutter here, I am referring to stewing. When there’s an issue that you are certain needs to be addressed, don’t stuff it. Just be sure you’re not just trying to stir up strife. Things that start small only grow, and issues need to be addressed as soon as realistically possibly. Weigh your issues carefully, make sure they are real issues, and communicate in an effective way for your spouse. In doing so, you are addressing rather than stuffing.
Marriage isn’t easy, and it is a lifelong learning process. While it is commonplace to hear of couples calling it quits, like Brangelina, it doesn’t have to be you. You can do these 10 things starting today!