Good communication starts with open and respectful listening.
This doesn’t mean we have to agree with what we hear, but that we listen with a mood to understand and validate. We listen with both intellect (for the content) and with heart (for the feelings). This receptive attitude builds a loving and trusting relationship.
Respect should also be the guiding principle when we speak. This means expressing our thoughts and feelings without blame, criticism or sarcasm.
A marital team—your spouse and you functioning as a unit to achieve your goals—is most successful when each player knows his or her individual responsibilities.
Early in the relationship, expectations should be discussed and agreed upon. Ambiguous or unspoken expectations can lead to the disappointments and resentments that erode the positive esteem between your spouse and you.
People feel valued when they are appreciated for who they are and what they do. When this need is not fulfilled in a marriage, your partner or you may seek it in an extramarital affair.
It is easy to take our spouse for granted and to forget how that person is special. An antidote for this complacency is, every so often, to make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse.
Choose one or two things from your list to share with your spouse. Be creative: leave a surprise phone message, a special e-mail or a note in your spouse’s lunch bag!
An extra-marital affair can devastate a marriage. Nothing compares to the pain and breach of trust of infidelity. Such damage is often irreparable, even if the couple remains together.
If your marriage is strong, there is less chance that infidelity will be an issue, but it is still important to prevent situations that could make you vulnerable to an affair. Avoid confiding intimately or spending time alone with a person of the opposite sex.
Couples often get themselves into financial trouble by buying now and then struggling to pay later. Such difficulties stress a marriage and are a contributing factor to divorce.
Find a good book or attend a seminar that can help you learn to budget so that you live within your means. Manage your money or it may dismantle your marriage.
A spiritual economic principle is to give a percentage of our income back to God. Everything comes from the Lord, and we express our gratitude by giving to Him without expecting anything in return. And, while we may have no expectations, when we give to the Lord He returns it manifold.
We spend time with the things that are important to us, the things we value. Making time for our relationship communicates that we are committed to and value our marriage.
Your spouse and you can make a list of activities you each like to do and then regularly do things together that you both enjoy. Have fun!