1. (Lack of) Communication
Most of the problems we experience in our marriages can be solved (or prevented) if we just would do a better job of communicating. In a successful marriage, you have to fight the urge to sweep things under the rug. Don’t allow things to fester. Instead, keep an open line of communication. Bad things tend to happen in the absence of communication. Instead of giving our partner the benefit of the doubt, we assume the worst.
As a PR person, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the best ways (and the wrong ways) to properly handle a crisis. Companies who successfully navigate difficult situations, usually have this in common – quick, open, frequent, and honest communication. We can apply this to marital issues as well: communicate openly, honestly and on a regular basis.
Kids have a way of bringing out the best – and the worst – in us. And no couple agrees 100 percent of the time about how to handle every situation concerning the children. The best ways to keep the act of parenting from damaging your marriage are to avoid undermining your spouse in front of your kids; spend time talking and getting on the same page regarding the big things, and pray, pray, pray.
Here’s another important point on the topic of parenting: it’s easy to let our lives revolve around our children. The problem, which is well documented, is that when we do that as parents, we grow further and further apart as husbands and wives. I’m sure we all know people who have gone through a divorce or separation later in life after the kids have grown up and left the home.
It’s because the past couple of decades were spent focused on the kids. We all grow and change – if we aren’t paying attention, that’s how we can grow apart instead of growing together.
Money itself isn’t the cause of many divorces in America; it’s disagreements about how to handle it that causes most strife. When my wife and I first got married, I was an idiot. I was so concerned about money. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity with the whole thing: combining our finances, buying a house, paying bills, and more.
We made the mistake (as I see it) in the early years of not merging our bank accounts. I never had a clear picture of her monthly income and expenditures, and it sowed distrust under the surface. She would come home from a hard day’s work, and sometimes my first greeting to her was not “how was your day?” Instead, it was about money – how much did she make and how much she spent.
In a healthy marriage, partners can talk openly about finances and they have a shared long-term vision on where the family is heading. There are tactics to employ along the way to minimize disagreements on spending, but it’s important to keep the big picture in view at all times.
What has your attention, has you. There are so many things that can divide our focus in a marriage. Jobs, bills, stress, work, kids, and the list goes on. But in our current age, I would say one of the biggest focus-robbers is the smartphone. Research shows that last year, the average person spent nearly three hours of their day on a smartphone or mobile device. Three hours!
Dave Boehi writes for Family Life: “When you’re with someone, make that relationship your priority. Establishing this value will require some retraining if anyone in your family is addicted to their devices.” Make no mistake, many of us are addicted. We need to take a breather from our devices. Step away from social media for a while. When you spend time with your spouse, let them have your undivided attention.