- We worked hard. We worked in our jobs so that the pay became more than enough to live on. We worked on our marriage so that we understood each other well and we worked with our children so they behaved, because poorly behaved people are not enjoyable.
- We lived through things together. We did not split up the tasks into his and hers. Almost every decision was made after talking, and talking and talking. We are now a team, and can step into each other’s shoes when needed. If one of us goes somewhere, the other is not lost.
- We trained the kids to be adults. Adults need to know how to clean, cook and take care of their every need, so as soon as the children could, they were learning to do. The boy’s roof collapsed a few weeks ago thanks to high winds and heavy rain. I did nothing. Tim was at work, but my teen-aged boys took care of everything, and their sisters helped. Why? Because they saw a need and took care of it instinctively.
- We helped others in front of our children, and with our children whenever possible. They now help us, and others, because that is what they saw growing up. This isn’t volunteering at the food pantry. (Though there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not personal.) This is seeing a neighbor with a need and taking care of it. It’s not hard. Last week our neighbor was hit by a drunk driver so we lent her our car. Simple.
- We did what was right, even when people did not like it. We did not appease people and act like doormats. When we did give in to pressure, we explained why this was not a battle that needed to be fought at the moment. The children learned that love was not getting your own way, and that sometimes ‘no’ was reasonable. They also learned that people that cannot be told ‘no’ without getting upset are immature. This was easy to teach because they saw the fits people threw when they did not get their way. The people made themselves look bad, and my children learned that they did not want to be that way. If you never say ‘no’ you never have this experience and your children will not see what unreasonable people look like when they throw an adult-sized tantrum.This behavior also kept us from being constantly under the unreasonable expectations of the ‘adult-children’ in this world who like having everything their way.
- We had long night-time devotions. Our family talked, and talked. While the devotions began with scripture, they often veered off course, onto real life. This is okay. Since we home schooled, family talks that lasted past midnight were not a problem. We did not merely lecture, we all talked.
- I allowed my husband to be a part of the household. The house is messy and comfortable because that is the way he likes it. He may also do projects in the living room (even ones where saw dust abounds) because it is his home too. Of course he cleans up his own messes. If I were left in charge, the house would be spotless. Not because I like it that way, but because it would have gotten the cattier women off my back! He has kept me from the insanity of pleasing that group of people.
- My husband is an adult. He does not come home and do things that I would yell at the children for, like leave his socks on the floor, or ignore the messes he made. He respects me and my time by not contributing to the messes and then leaving the home.
- Both my husband and I speak highly of each other. Spouse bashing, especially husband bashing is a social norm. I am not sure people even notice they do it anymore. I did not realize how little we participate in this until my teen aged son experience his first ‘let’s put the men down’ session. He started defending himself and became a bit upset. Most guys are used to it, but should they be?
- We are not passive-aggressive. We confront things and talk boldly when needed. This takes a lot of trust. That is the beauty of being married for more than a year or two. But it comes from years of fighting well. If you fight well (fairly, not trying to ‘win,’ but actually trying to explain and understand) then you will grow. Unfair techniques like changing the past, making lists of every sin the person has ever committed, name calling and saying things you don’t mean only get you off topic and prolong the fight. Further they keep you from trusting each other. No one wants to feel like anything they do can be twisted and used against them whenever the other person gets a little cranky. Fight fair. You can show that you are upset, if you are, but talk only about the things that actually upset you, and be honest about it. No lying to make the other one feel better, or worse, and absolutely no silent treatment. That solves nothing. And listen. Actually try to understand what your spouse is saying. Even though you are the one upset, it is not all about you. The two of you are in this together. Listen to his side. It may help you realize that it was not what you thought it was, and now that he knows it upsets you he will never do it again. Many arguments last past the point of the guy saying this because guys don’t tend to elaborate under stress and the girl is not listening.
- We lived within our means (mostly). Many relationships are stressed because there are always financial pressures. Even with the best planning financial pressures come, but there are things you can do to make sure they do not come frequently. (Check out Dave Ramsey for excellent advice on this subject.) For us it once meant living in a mobile home park while Tim was a young doctor until we could afford the house we wanted. (Our neighbors loved talking about the ‘doctor’ who lived next door and watching people look totally confused.)
Now remember, this is a list of what we did right. Maybe next week I will compose a list of what we did wrong, and would have done better if we had realized this sooner… ‘Hope this helps!
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