1. Prioritize Your Partner Over Everything
Making your spouse the first priority in your life requires your attention.
After years of being a divorce lawyer and watching couples grow apart and divorce, I became frustrated watching couples lose their dreams of a permanent marriage due to their lack of basic skills that we should have learned in kindergarten. Over the last 35 years, the statistics remain the same: 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Many of these marriages are good people who have grown apart and look across the dining room table (if they even eat together) and do not recognize the person who sits in the other seat. How does this happen and what can we do about it?
2. Communicate With Your Spouse
This second commandment offers four tips on strengthening your communication skills--including the importance of listening.
It is almost impossible to share a life with someone with whom you can't communicate. Most relationships that fail are ones where people talk past each other, rather than to each other. How can one meet the needs of the other if they don't know what they are? And, how can you know what they are if you can't hear what's being said because you haven't learned to listen? Finally, what skills must you develop so that your thoughts, feeling and needs are recognized?
3. Make Dates With Your Spouse
Lynne’s third commandment suggests ways to get out of the house and get the alone time your relationship needs--without kids!
One of the primary reasons people get divorced, unlike what we see in the movies, is that they just grow apart. Husband or wife goes to work; the other person either goes to work or cares for the children. They live separate lives and one day look across the table and don’t even know each other any more. Other relationships have developed at work or the gym that appear even closer than the relationship with their own spouse. How did this happen? Where did the years go?
4. Argue Constructively
5 ways arguments can help build your relationship rather than destroy it.
In every relationship there are disagreements. Just because we marry does not mean we give up our own thoughts, opinions or perspectives--it's important not to. We approach things differently for many reasons. For example, stay-at-home parents may see issues in another way than working parents; or religious differences can cause disagreements in a marriage. In every relationship, it is nearly certain that arguments will ensue.
5. Don’t Expect Your Spouse To Be a Mind Reader
Speak up, express your feelings and watch your relationship grow.
Relationships are difficult. A relationship takes work, compromise and a lot of understanding. Most of all, it takes communication. Just because you’re in love with your spouse doesn’t mean that all will run smoothly.
6. Leave The Baggage At The Door
Don’t impose your pre-marital baggage on your new spouse.
Let's face it. You're all individuals with your own histories, feelings and responses. That means that each new relationship into which you enter will layer on new histories and feelings and, probably new responses. This "baggage" is something you carry around forever. And, of course, when you marry you bring all your baggage from past relationships to the new relationship. By baggage, I also mean past hurts, happiness and attitudes.
7. Praise Your Spouse
Keep the derogatory comments to yourself and instead say something nice.
One of the most important things a relationship can and should provide is a supportive, loving atmosphere. What could be nicer than to go home at the end of the day to hugs and appreciation? Appreciation is a two-way street. To make a relationship grow, it should be watered with praise, compliments and thanks from one partner to the other.
8. Resolve Arguments One Issue at a Time
Rehashing past arguments will not make the current issue easier to resolve, it will in face make things more difficult.
There is a place for the kitchen sink. It belongs in the kitchen, not in any argument you may have with your partner. Many arguments deteriorate into the so-called "kitchen sink" form of argument, which does nothing to enhance the relationship. This commandment requires you and your partner to stick to the subject and not rehash all of the old disagreements that seem to come up over and over and never resolve.
9. Develop Mutual Interests
With one commandment to go, the Ninth Commandment states that all relationships must find shared interests in order to survive.
Marriage is for life. And life is a pretty long time to live with someone with whom you have no common interest. A couple is usually drawn together by attraction, physical or otherwise, and for the first few months or years that may be enough. Eventually, however, you'll need to embrace your common interests.
10. Make Special Time for Yourself
Too often in a relationship, people forget about their own needs. The Tenth Commandment gives you that permission.
There is nothing more wonderful than a good solid relationship where you enjoy each other, enjoy spending time with each other, and share common interests. That does not, however, mean that you have to be together all of the time and do everything together.
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