I think you'll agree with me when I say that building a strong, happy marriage can be very difficult and requires a lot of effort on the part of both spouses.
The problem is that couples often fail to understand some of the basic dos and don'ts that can either build or break down their relationship. Just like with anything in life, we need to focus our efforts on doing more of the actions that lead to success and eliminate those that don't.
Part 1 - Relationship Dos for an Awesome Marriage
In Part 1 of this two-part series on marriage Dos and Don'ts, we'll cover 11 relationship Dos that you need in order to build an amazingly awesome marriage.
- Praise Your Spouse
- Be Kind
- Be Considerate
- Be Honest
- Lift Each Other up in Words, Actions, and Prayer
- Forgive Each Other Routinely
- Date Your Spouse
- Be Respectful
- Communicate Positively
- Be Patient
- Love Like Your Marriage Depends on It
Of course, this is not the definitive list for your relationship, but if you implement these Dos you are going to be well on your way towards a great marriage.
I don't profess to be an expert in marital counseling, relationships, or much of anything else for that matter, but the list below represents different things that I've either done well or done very poorly over more than a few years of marriage.
You can find Part II of our series here 11 Best Don'ts to Avoid an Unhappy Marriage
What are Some Relationship Dos for an Amazingly Awesome Marriage?
Praise Your Spouse
Everyone likes to be praised for something they've done or accomplished. Praise is particularly important when it comes from a spouse.
It's key in a marriage that you provide each other with words of praise. These words of praise can be one of your most powerful communication tools.
"Hey, you did a great job on ....." means a lot to me when it comes from a friend, but it means 10x more when it comes from my wife, Anne.
Words of Affirmation is one of my love languages and those words from her mean everything to me. It tells me that she recognizes and appreciates what I've done or accomplished.
We discuss the 5 Love Languages in our related post. Check it out here: Build a Happy Marriage: Learn How Now
How do we properly praise our spouses?
There are two keys to effectively praise your spouse: Be Specific and Be Sincere.
When offering praise to a spouse, but sure to include specifically what they did and only praise with sincerity. Offering praise with insincerity can do more harm than had you said nothing at all.
"The lawn looks great." is nice, but not as effective as "The lawn looks great! I love how you trimmed up the hedges and planted those flowers by the mailbox. They really brighten up everything."
Remember, offer your spouse words of praise that are specific and sincere and your relationship will reap the rewards.
Huddle Up Time
Do you praise your spouse enough? Are you specific and sincere?
Take time to Huddle Up with your spouse and ask them if you praise each other enough. It's important that you are able to meet each other's need for praise and recognition.
Kindness is one of the best ways to strengthen your spouse's heart. Being a source of kind words to your spouse can have a tremendous impact on your marriage.
John and Julie Gottman are experts on marital stability and together run The Gottman Institute. The goal of The Gottman Institute is to use scientific studies to build happy and healthy relationships.
In this article published by The Atlantic, the Gottmans discuss how kindness can serve as the glue that holds couples together. Couples that are in a marriage where each spouse is kind to the other feel a greater sense of security and understanding. From the Gottman's research, evidence shows that kindness from one spouse creates a reciprocating effect from the other - kindness from one spouse yields kindness from the other.
Conversely, cruel and cutting words have the power to destroy. Such words have no place in your marriage. This is particularly important to remember when you are arguing about something and tempers are running hot.
Words said out of anger to hurt or punish can have long-lasting effects.
"Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not." Samuel Johnson
Anne and I don't always see eye to eye and sometimes we probably don't even like each other all that much. I guess that's just part of the ups and downs of being married.
However, no matter the subject or how high our emotions are running, we love each other and we speak to each other accordingly.
[clickToTweet tweet="Even in the most difficult times, treat your spouse with kindness. " quote="Even in the most difficult times, treat your spouse with kindness. " theme="style4"]
As stated by Julie Gottman, "Kindness doesn't mean that we don't express our anger, but the kindness determines how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you're hurt and angry, and that's the kinder path."
If you are looking for more tips on how to offer kindness to your spouse, check out these two great articles from Markmerrill.com: 10 More Things Husbands Want to Hear from Their Wives and 10 More Things Wives Want to Hear from Their Husbands
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss what each of you can do to bring an atmosphere of kindness to your marriage.
Merriam-Webster defines considerate as being "thoughtful of the rights or feelings of others."
Do you consider your spouse's feelings in your decision making, actions, or words?
When you are married, practically every decision you make will impact your spouse in one way or another.
When asked to go on a fishing weekend with the guys, a husband may view a response of "Let me run it by my wife" as unmanly or that the guys will think he can't make decisions on his own.
A wife may view a response like this from her husband to his friends as making her look like she doesn't want him to have some relaxing time with the guys.
In reality, his response of checking with his wife is showing consideration for her needs / plans she may have had for the weekend. He is thinking about the tough week she has had and that she may need some down time herself. He is remembering that the decisions of one spouse will more than likely impact the other.
In great marriages, both spouses practice putting the needs of the other spouse above their own.
Huddle Up Time
Are you considerate of your spouse? Huddle up and ask them if they feel that you are considerate of their feelings and / or needs. How can the two of you be more considerate of each other?
Being dishonest or deceitful can destroy your relationship.
If your spouse can't trust you to be open and honest with them, then very simply your relationship will struggle.
Happy and strong relationships are built on a platform of trust and honesty. That is undermined when you are not honest and open.
That little white lie that you thought was not big may be a huge deal to your spouse.
So, be honest in all things.
Check out this great post regarding honesty by imom.com
Whether it is the speeding ticket you don't want him to know about (because it's your third one and you don't want another lecture from him) or that lunch with a member of the opposite sex (that you know she would not approve), your marriage needs you both to be honest with each other.
Whether or not your spouse will ever find out is irrelevant. Your spouse needs to know that you are always honest with them in all things.
Save you and your spouse a lot of heartache and be open and honest. Losing the trust of your spouse can take a long time to recover.
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss a time when honesty was an issue in your marriage. Remember that you are not trying to revive old problems, but trying to learn from each other to continue to move your marriage forward.
Lift Each Other Up in Words, Actions, and Prayer
During various times in your marriage, your spouse is going to need you to lift them up.
There are going to be times when they feel down, defeated, and hurt.
The world can be a very tough place and your spouse needs your support. They will be doubted by others or feel defeated by life circumstances. They will need you to be there by their side to offer encouragement and belief.
I've had numerous times when I was struggling with one issue on another. There have been times when I wasn't sure how to handle a particular situation or what step I should take next. I needed the support of my wife.
It was in these lowest and most difficult times that Anne has been there to give me support and encouragement.
Although she may not have fully understood what I was going through, she was there at my side, holding my hand, and offering support and encouragement. By doing so, she was lifting me up with her words, actions, and prayers.
I've felt her hand on my head as she prayed over me while I slept (or at least she thought I was asleep). In your marriage, you are going to take turns being the one lifting and being the one lifted up.
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and pray over each other. Ask your spouse how you can provide support and encouragement to them. Share with them times when you need their support.
- Forgive Each Other Routinely
If you are married, then more than likely you are married to a human.
Humans are prone to mistakes, poor decisions, thoughtless comments, selfish acts, forgetfulness, and so on and so on.
Your spouse will let you down during your marriage.
They are going to say stupid things, forget your birthday, skip dinner with your parents and go golfing with the guys, or act in some other equally selfish manner.
At this point, you have two decisions - forgive or not forgive.
Side note: Under no circumstances is any form of abuse acceptable. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek help immediately.
Remember that forgiveness is not about condoning something your spouse did or pretending like it didn't happen.
According to Wayne Dyer, "Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.”
By not forgiving you are refusing to let your relationship move forward. You are deciding to remain in a place of pain and hurt. It may take some time, but through prayer and counseling, you can get to a point of forgiveness.
[clickToTweet tweet="When we let go of wrongs, we loosen Satan's grasp on our relationships Domeniek L. Harris" quote="When we let go of wrongs, we loosen Satan's grasp on our relationships Domeniek L. Harris" theme="style4"]
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and pray for the power to forgive in difficult times.
Date Your Spouse
In order for your relationship to continue to flourish, you must continue to do the things that helped create the relationship in the first place.
Date nights with your spouse are an important ingredient in keeping your marriage new, fresh and fun.
At the beginning of your relationship, you tried to win over their affection. You tried to show them your sweet, romantic, spontaneous, and thoughtful side, right?
Well, just because you got married, started your career, and began raising a family doesn't mean that those things can stop. You must continue to do the actions that won their heart.
There is no such thing as autopilot in your marriage. You must prioritize building your marriage over all of the other aspects of life that pull you in different directions. As we have already discussed, you and your spouse need to be able to lean on each other.
Your ability to lean on each other is tied to the closeness of your relationship. By spending time together (i.e., dates), you are working to maintain that closeness.
In his awesome article, The Heart and Soul of Date Night, Gary Smalley covers some great considerations when it comes to date nights with your spouse.
His considerations to include in dating your spouse include:
- Regular Date Nights
- Add Variety
- Make an Adventure
- Have Fun
There are literally unlimited options for dating your spouse. You just have to take action.
If you feel that your finances are holding you back from more date nights, check out our related post: 8 Inexpensive Date Ideas to Build Your Marriage
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss some of the awesome dates you've had in the past. How can you revive those times? Work together to plan an outing where you two can share an experience and create some awesome memories.
You must at all times treat your spouse with the utmost respect. Without mutual respect, a marriage can't thrive.
What does that look like?
Well, respect can look different depending on who you ask. In general terms, respect is about how you treat your spouse on a consistent basis. You respect their thoughts, feelings, or views.
In a happy and healthy marriage, respect is about:
- Each spouse being able to be themselves
- Listening to your spouse's point of view
- Providing support to help you spouse achieve their goals
- Being considerate of their needs and feelings (see Be Considerate above)
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss how each of you perceives respect in a marriage. Has there been a time when you felt disrespected by your spouse?
One of the most important "Dos" in your relationship is to communicate in a positive manner with your spouse.
According to Dr. Amy Bellows, "Communication is the mortar that holds a relationship together. If it breaks down, the relationship will crumble. When spouses no longer communicate, a marriage nurtures no one. It is no longer a marriage."
However for many, positive communication can be very difficult.
In order to communicate positively, you must be willing to listen actively and emphatically.
Both you and your spouse must feel open in your marriage to express your needs, concerns, or even those periodic points of contention. This air of openness can only be achieved when both spouses display an ability and desire to communicate positively.
Huddle Up Time
How well do you and your spouse communicate? Are you both on the current level of communication in your marriage? It is important both your needs for communication are being met. Huddle up with your spouse and discuss your individual needs for communication.
When you were first married, did your spouse have these funny little "quirks" that made them uniquely them? Where there personality traits that just made them adorable?
My guess is that these are true for most couples.
How about now? Do you still find those funny, little traits adorable? My guess is not so much anymore.
When Anne and I were first married, she found my rumbles and grumbles in my sleep cute. Now there are times when she wants to smother me with a pillow.
The fact that I'm still alive to write these words is a testament to her being patient with me.
Instead of her getting upset (and smothering me with a pillow), she expressed her feelings in a kind and respectful manner (remember those sections above).
We talked it out, did some research on how to handle my nighttime noises, and came up with some solutions. Now, she is able to get her rest and I'm still here to type this out.
Bottom line, if your spouse is doing something that is testing your patience, then you have a couple of choices.
Is it something that you just need to "get over" and learn to let it go or do you need to sit down with your spouse and discuss seriously?
For example, Anne is not very good with directions, but I just let that go. But, if she had very poor spending habits, then we would need to sit down and have a respectful discussion about my concerns.
Being patient can be very difficult for some (more so for some than others). Being patient with your spouse is often more difficult than it is with others in your life.
Before you lose your cool and speak out of anger or criticize your spouse (which are both horrible actions for your marriage), you need to do a self-assessment on what really matters and what doesn't. What do you need to discuss and what do you need to let go?
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss times when each of you struggled to be patient with other. How can you help the other be patient in trying situations?
Love Like Your Marriage Depends on It
If your spouse knows that you love them, is it really necessary to say "I Love You" to them? I mean doesn't seem a bit pointless if they already know it? After all, you've been married for X years and have X children together.
YES IT IS!!!! Every single day you should take your spouse's hand, look them in the eyes and let them know that you love them with the fire of 1,000 suns. Maybe a bit dramatic, but you get the point.
Speaking to your spouse through their love languages is vitally important, but you must look them in the eyes and tell them every day.
In his letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
In these verses, Paul is describing how love acts. He is providing a model for us to follow.
Of all the "Dos" related to your marriage, Love is the most important. It is the key.
If you can live these words, then you are going to knock everything else out of the park.
Huddle Up Time
Huddle up with your spouse and discuss how each of you interprets love. If you and your spouse don't know your Love Languages, click here to take the quiz. After you take the quiz, discuss the results with your spouse and how you can meet each other's needs.
The simple Dos on this list might not be all it takes to have a great marriage, but if you live these out with your spouse, I can guarantee that you’ll be well on your way to building an amazingly awesome marriage.
As we have discussed before, a great marriage doesn't happen. It requires hard work and commitment from both spouses.
We hope that you found this post helpful and a great resource to help you and your spouse create an awesome marriage. If you did, we kindly ask that you give us a share on your favorite social media platform.
Until next time, Steve and Anne