Since today is my wedding anniversary, I wanted to share my top five tips for a healthy marriage. I’ve been married for a pretty long time and have been challenged by my life partner as well as the institution, itself. But I wouldn’t change anything about my relationship status. Not only has my marriage grounded me but it has also strengthened me. After thinking about why that is, I came up with five rules or guidelines that have elevated the quality of our union.
Number 5: Argue constructively.
During a fight don’t go around and around arguing about who did what, who said what, or who was wrong. Instead, talk about what needs to be done in the future to avoid the dispute from happening again.
If you are too angry to have this conversation, then don’t say anything. Cool down first, even if that means going to bed angry. As Mr. Hargrow always says, “Let cooler heads prevail.” At the beginning of our relationship, I hated this saying. I wanted to fight. And I wanted him to admit his wrongdoing because, of course, the argument was always his fault. But with time, I saw the wisdom in his words.
Number 4: Don’t bicker.
Have you ever known a couple who communicates by picking on one another? I have. It’s annoying. But worse than that, it seems to be a toxic habit. Nothing good can come from the constant strife and negativity created by bickering.
Number 3: Divide the labor equally.
Unless you want the foundation of your union to be resentment, you must split up the work as fairly as possible. Division of labor is especially important if you have children. It doesn’t matter who does what, as long as you are both doing something. Life requires a lot of maintenance. And the more responsibilities you take on; the more upkeep is needed. And once you have decided on your respective jobs, do them! Don’t turn your spouse into a nag.
Number 2: Don’t keep score.
Yes, I know, I just said divide the labor. But you must resist the temptation to keep track of or critique your partner’s performance. If your companion is indeed slacking off, you may need to have a conversation. However, don’t let your discontent simmer. Talk to your partner before resentment takes hold. And be open to a renegotiation of duties. See Number 5.
Number 1: Sort yourself out.
Take responsibility for your actions. Make sure to screw your own head on straight before you attempt to fix your partner’s head. You can do this for free. In these modern times, we have a little thing called YouTube where you can find much more than kitten and puppy videos (I do love those videos.) For example, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, has posted several of his courses on YouTube. Click here to check his channel out. He also has a new book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote For Chaos, coming out in January. Click here to check that out. Of course, the book is not free. But I’m guessing it will contain content covered in his YouTube videos. Dr. Peterson has some strong opinions and polarizing political views. But I don’t find his lectures political at all.
There you have it: my recipe for a healthy marriage. I hope you found some value in my list.
Disclaimer: I am not a counselor or a therapist. If I could get a psychology degree based on YouTube hours watched and self-help books read, maybe I’d have one. But sadly, I’m just a regular person passing along a few kernels of wisdom I’ve acquired over the years.