By Heather Hale
Are you giving your marriage the best you have to offer, or are you letting other interests squeeze your spouse out of your life?
Think back to when you started dating your spouse. When everything is new and exciting, we give the best of our time, energy, and talents into developing our relationships. Fast forward a few years — are you still giving your marriage your all? Chances are, between the wedding day and today, some things have started to slide. If you’re looking to divorce-proof your marriage, you’re going to have to give it all you’ve got, and that means putting your marriage first.
It’s easy to put other priorities above our marriage, so easy, in fact, that we often don’t realize we’re doing it. However, if you find yourself bickering more often and seeing eye-to-eye less and less, you’ve probably let something come between you and your spouse. Here are some common concerns that push your marriage out of the forefront of your mind.
We need to make money to survive, that’s a given. However, when we put money before marriage, our relationships suffer. Putting in excessive hours at the office can leave your spouse feeling neglected and relegated to second place in your life. Before you commit to take on extra responsibilities, evaluate whether increased work pressure is worth the strain it will put on your marriage.
If you can’t get away from the office more, look for ways to ease the burden at home. Vow not to take work problems out on your family, and allow yourself enough time to decompress after the day. Bringing work problems home adds to marital discord.
Whether we’re doting parents or devoted children, it’s all too easy to let family obligations supersede our obligation to our spouse. Mothers are especially susceptible to forgetting their husband in favor of motherhood, a move which can leave Dad feeling alone and forgotten. Your spouse needs to come before the kids, and he deserves your time, attention, and affection. Remember that, after the kids are grown and gone, your spouse will still remain.
Also, beware of siding with family members over your spouse. As good as it might feel to vent about your spouse to your mother, sister or friend, it is never appropriate to denigrate your spouse to others. A huge part of being loyal to your husband is honoring his good name.
Can you say that your spouse is your best friend? She should be! Emotional affairs begin innocently. Confiding in a friend or spending large amounts of free time with a friend may seem harmless at first, but as you put friendship above your marriage, you are inviting in trouble. If you’re having a hard time connecting with your spouse on a friendly level, look for new ways to spend time together. Take up a new couple hobby or resurrect a forgotten interest. As you find new ways to bond with your spouse, friends will fall into their proper supporting roles in your life.
Having an outlet to relax is a necessity for maintaining a balanced life. However, if your hobbies are putting a strain on your relationship, it’s time to reconsider your priorities. You can usually spot a problem hobby if you find yourself getting into arguments with your spouse about your time spent away from the family. When a formerly good thing becomes a point of contention, that’s probably a clue that you’re putting a pastime ahead of your marriage. Have a sit-down discussion with your spouse about what is a reasonable amount of time each week to spend on personal hobbies. Be willing to compromise, and find ways to include your spouse or the entire family in your free time.
Your marriage is the most important relationship in your life. If you take the time to nourish it, you’ll be blessed with companionship, friendship, and love your entire life. Creating a happier home and marriage always starts with an honest evaluation of your priorities. Look for little ways to show your spouse that she comes first today. It won’t take long to start seeing the dividends from your affectionate attention.
By Heather Hale