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Marriage Advice From My Parents

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I know it sounds cheesy, but love is totally in the air.  In Live More Weigh Less we’re spending this week talking all about love – our romantic relationships, our friendships and our families. I’ve been seeing a ton of baby ducks, flowers popping up and new relationships blooming.  Jonathan and I are about to take off on a romantic getaway up the coast of California for a week.

These days it seems that it’s more common for my friends’ parents to be divorced than married, and though I am always supportive when people know that their lives will be better apart than together, I always wonder if there’s a secret to staying in love.

For women, being in love is the ultimate food, and when our romantic relationships are out of whack or draining, food is always there to fill us up and give us a fleeting feeling of belonging.  Which is why I’m so excited to share with you my parents’ tips for having a long and happy marriage in honor of their anniversary.

To be frank, I’m so impressed with my parents relationship and I’m very excited to show them off :).  I hope you will find some nuggets of wisdom to help you deepen and strengthen your relationship.

Marriage tips from my Dad:

Lots of little things are better than a few big things. While a surprise trip to Paris for Valentine’s Day can certainly be memorable, more frequent actions that show you’re thinking of your spouse are better for building and maintaining a long, loving relationship. It’s truly “the thought that counts” when you come home with a red rose on a random Tuesday, or make that favorite dinner, or volunteer to do the dishes so she can watch her favorite show, or go to a James Bond movie because he loves James Bond, or playing her favorite music on Pandora or, …you get the idea. It’s an every day thing, not a once a year thing.

Learn to love their imperfections. Face it we’re all imperfect. Some require attention, but most fall in the category of just being human. A couple can choose to constantly strive for perfection, which will never be achieved, or you can accept that everyone has their unique quirks. Some of these quirks may be a bit annoying, but if you can learn that it’s not your responsibility to fix every imperfection then you can learn to love those things that make your spouse unique. You can learn to laugh at his forgetfulness, indulge her fetish for facial products, laugh at his bad jokes even the ones in questionable taste, or let her get a little nuts when the in-laws are coming for three days. We all do it, learn to love it.

Forgive mistakes. This is the hardest, but is undoubtedly most important. Can you put your ego away, and forgive a small mistake? Of course, a sincere apology is almost always a pre-condition, but do you have to prove your superiority by punishing your spouse for a mistake? Do you need to show that you’re in control of the relationship by deciding when  you’ll let bygones be bygones? Be careful, someday the shoe will be on the other foot, and you’ll need some forgiveness yourself. And anyway making up is more fun than giving someone the silent treatment.

Marriage tips from my Mom:

Remembering to prioritize the marriage.   It is especially hard to do this when the kids are growing up and life is full.  I remember Steve saying to me once or twice when the kids were young …”our marriage comes last after the kids, the dogs and the community!”  Many couples feel that their marriage is last on the list but this isn’t good for anyone in the family.  The love that comes from the marriage sustains husband and wife and helps the children (and the dogs) know that they live in a loving household that feels whole and grounded.  If mom and dad aren’t happy, how can the family be truly happy?  Making time to be a couple is mandatory for family health.  It is good for the kids to learn that mom and dad need time to be alone sometimes.  It’s not a bad thing for kids to know that there is a relationship out there that is just as important (and maybe a little more important) than the parent/child relationship.  After all, it is the husband and wife that hold on to each other when the kids depart for college, a career, the military or move far away.   Time as a couple exceeds the time spent raising children at home.

Independence and Respect:  It is important for a couple to respect each other and to give each other the space to grow and develop as individuals.    Sometimes couples are co-dependent…trying new things only as a couple or not encouraging each other to try on new roles and experiences.  Traveling alone, taking a course, starting a new business or beginning a new sport are all ways to grow as a person and it brings more energy and freshness to a relationship.  Of course it is great to do things together too and it makes that time all the sweeter when we have had time to ourselves.

Therapy strengthens a relationship: We spend time and money on our homes, our cars and our children.  Why not invest in our marriage too?  Sometimes a professional is needed when a big shift happens in a family.  Is money really tight? Is mom or dad struggling with a bit too much sadness? Is the empty nest terribly hard? Or is it just a good time for a tune-up?  A therapist can be so nurturing and caring.  Setting time aside for the marriage with a professional listener and advice giver is one of the best things that you can give yourself.  There are marriage enrichment classes and marriage retreats too that are very healing and enlightening.

My parents on their wedding day, they were 22!

I know, my parents rock.

In the comments below I want to know

1. What tip was most helpful for you to hear and how are you going to implement it
2. What are YOUR tips for a long and happy marriage?

Can’t wait to chat with you!

Love love love,

Sarah


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