I have categorized my most important marriage advice into 12 important principles which, I believe, that if followed correctly, will result in a peaceful and functional relationship. This advice is applicable to married couples or to singles that are looking to get married.
Anna’s 12 Commandments of Marriage
1. Actions speak louder than words
Saying something means absolutely nothing unless it is followed up by truthful actions. If a wife asks her husband to help her clean up the house after having a vibrant dinner party, he may agree to do so, but unless he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work after the guests leave, the promise means very little. Along the same lines, saying “I love you,” doesn’t mean much unless a spouse shows his/her feelings through actions. Calling in from work every day, pitching in at home and performing meaningful gestures like being extra-attentive when your spouse is sad, asking how an important meeting went at work that day or randomly bringing home flowers or a thoughtful gift are all actions which show feelings of love and appreciation without even saying anything.
This involves putting a stop to name calling and signs of contempt; eye-rolling, sneering and general put-downs. Actions like this will make a spouse feel resentful and worthless, destroying any chance of having a happy relationship. Showing a spouse respect, interest and appreciation for who he/she is and what he/she does with his/her life, will boost confidence and enhance feelings of appreciation and fulfillment.
3. Take responsibility for your personal problems
Don’t drag them into your marriage and make your spouse part of your issues
ex. health problems, addictions etc. One who does not take responsibility for his/her personal problems is a broken person who needs help. Broken people can lead to broken marriages, so get yourself fixed before you dump your problems on your spouse.
4. Learn to be flexible
Take responsibility for your actions-don’t be defensive and remember to admit when you are wrong. You can be right all the time, OR you can be married. Not both.
5. Keep criticism to a minimal
Although we all have certain preferences, criticizing your spouse at length will make him/her feel like nothing he/she does is ever good enough. Spending time together turns into a chore because the criticized spouse is in constant fear that whatever he/she says or does will be a disappointment and there will be no way to relax.
6. Do not involve your parents in your marital problems
Parents are automatically biased toward their own child and will always side with him/her, while placing blame on the other spouse. Involving your parents in marital problems is a great way to quickly sabotage your marriage. If you need mediation or just need to vent, turn to a marriage counselor, a clergy member or even a friend, but leave your parents out of it.
7. Say the words “I love you,” at least once every day
More than once is even better.
8. Agree on a financial plan and budget together
Be open with each other about finances; keeping secrets about money will usually surface later on and lead to greater conflict. Be upfront from the beginning.
9. DO NOT hold grudges
Learn to let go and move on. Bringing up past arguments or errors of your spouse will never allow you to move forward in your marriage and be happy; there will always be negative reminders looming above your heads, which will prevent future growth and happiness.
10. Learn to communicate
People are not mind readers, especially men. ESPECIALLY MEN. Don’t expect your spouse to know what you want unless you tell him/her exactly what it is.
11. Marriage is 100/100, NOT 50/50
Although you may have your routine or delegated tasks, there are days when one spouse is super-stressed, feeling unwell or has deadlines and must work late. At times like these, it is the responsibility of the other spouse to come forward and take on extra responsibilities with the household or children, in order for the day to run smoothly and to keep the stressed spouse from losing his or her mind.
12. Give, Give, Give
Leave your selfishness at the door; there is no place for it in marriage. The more you give to your spouse, the more you receive, the more you receive, the more you will appreciate your spouse and the happier you both will be. Giving is a win/win situation.