The 10 Commandments of Marriage: 1. Prioritize Your Partner Over Everything Making your spouse the first priority in your life requires your attention. BY LYNNE Z. GOLD-BIKIN
Don't be blinded by things that can strengthen your marriage.
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?
Over the next number of months, weíre going to make some suggestions for avoiding my office and staying "hitched." Try these, and you may put me out of business!
After a short time in a relationship, many partners take each other for granted. We take phone calls when weíre having dinner, break dates with our spouse for a kidís soccer game, come home late for dinner (without the phone call) to get that last item off the desk, and even choose to play golf with the boys after a six-day work week. Sure, "sheíll understand" or, ďhe knows the kids come firstĒ is easy to say and, even, understandable. Hereís the problem. People tend to grow apart when they stop sharing their life with each other and assuming that their loved one will always wait for everything else to come first.
Hereís the suggestion; prioritize the spouse first. Sure, business work is necessary, kidís games are important and golf is fun. Somehow, however, there is a way to make your spouse number one. Donít take him/her for granted. Treat them as you did before you married, when you were dating.
Itís so easy to take advantage of our partner. But I want to argue on behalf of the marriage as something to prioritize. This means explaining to the guys that youíll play golf every other week, because this is the week you have a date with your wife; itís saying to the boss, Iíll get to that report tomorrow because my husband and I have plans for dinner; and itís communicating to your partner, Jack has a soccer game tonight, and letís go together. Sure, there are times that delaying certain things wonít work, but making that the exception rather than the rule is an important step in prioritizing the relationship.
You chose this person because you loved him/her and wanted to spend your lives together. Why, then, does everything else come first? Like water closes over a rock that is thrown into the pond, others fill in when you are unable to do the work. No one can fill in when you ignore your partner and take him or her for granted. There are only so many hours in the day and if we expend them in too many directions, there really is no energy left for our spouse. If you want a marriage, it takes work, and making your partner number one is the key to a good marriage.
Nationally known family law attorney Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin is chair of the family law practice at Philadelphia-based law firm Weber Gallagher. Ranked one of the top ten divorce attorneys in the U.S. by Worth Magazine, Gold-Bikin is a former chair of the American Bar Association's Section of Family Law, and has more than three decades of experience advising clients on everything from financial matters, prenuptial agreements and divorce, to custody disputes and domestic violence.