So here's twelve things I've learned about having a healthy marriage:
1. There is an emotion behind anger. Figure out what that emotion is, and deal with the root cause.
Example: When our dog died, my husband became angry when I began to cry. He flat out told me to, "Get over it."
This did not go over well.
But I understood that his anger was from a sense of being out of control--I was upset and he hated seeing me upset and was unhinged by the fact that he couldn't fix me. He wanted it to stop immediately. I explained that that was exactly what I was doing--getting over it. That tears are part of grieving. I also told him how his reaction made me feel. He apologized. Which leads to #2.
2. Forgive immediately and without grudges. You will likely have to forgive your spouse every single day. Do it quickly if you can. If not, see #2.
3. Ask for EXACTLY what you need. We usually need to feel connected to enjoy sex. If you need a hug and your spouse is not providing it, ask for one. If you need your spouse to sweep and mop the floor for you to feel connected enough (or relaxed enough) to have sex, ask them to (men don't get hints).
If you want more sex, ask what you need to do for your spouse to want it more. Don't say, "I shouldn't have to ask." As Dr. Phil says, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
4. Ladies, make your spouse feel like your superhero. Most little boys want to grow up to save the day, make him feel this way.
Men, make her feel like your princess. How you might ask, well that leads to #5.
5. Find out what your spouse's love language is, and show them love in that way. Also, find out what your spouse's personality color is. It will help you understand their strengths and forgive their weaknesses--we all have them and while we can improve upon them, they're not going away. (FYI, I'm a blue and my husband is a red).
6. Don't be a right fighter. If one person is right, that means the other person is wrong. You can't have a successful marriage with that kind of attitude. Instead, try to focus on both of you getting as much resolution as you can out of the conflict.
7. You need a team of people to support you--and your spouse can't play every role, though they should be your team captain. My husband simply isn't able to meet all my needs. He's an introvert, and I'm an extrovert. I need people and adventures to feel alive, while the same activities drain him. So I have friends I go running with. I also have friends I go shopping with, or out to dinner. I come home feeling alive and he doesn't begrudge me that.
8. Money. Money is always a problem. We were super poor the first 10 years of our marriage. It was HARD (whoever said money doesn't make you happy was an idiot). For us, I used to do all the grocery shopping and my husband would get upset with me every. single. time.
I couldn't feed our family on his expectations. After seven years of fighting, I finally gave up and let him do the grocery shopping for three months. He spent more money than me every single time he went.
After that, whenever he starts to get upset, I tell him I'll gladly hand the responsibility back over to him. The other thing that helped was getting my own job. My husband could not deal with making all the money and me spending it (even if it was just on groceries and bills).
9. Division of labors. For us, and probably for most women, the majority of the housework falls on me, even though I work almost as many hours as he does. Same for child care. It's a constant struggle, feeling like one person isn't pulling their weight.
The only thing I've found that helps is #3. Tell your spouse exactly how overwhelmed you feel. Explain how much it would mean to you if they would take over, say, cleaning the bathrooms. Also, get your kids involved. Even a toddler can wash walls with a squirt bottle of water and a cloth.
10. Have fun together. Find something that you both love to do and make it your thing. For my husband and I, we both love to travel. That's not something we get to do a ton, but we like to imagine places we could go. We also like to go out to dinner together.
11. Don't have close friends of the opposite sex. I've rarely seen this lead to anything but heartache. The only exceptions are when both couples are equally as close.
12. Try really, really hard to never call your spouse bad names. Never swear at your spouse. Never yell at your spouse. If you're angry enough to do any of those things, walk away and revisit when your calmer (the advise to never go to bed angry is absolutely ridiculous. People need time to cool off, and they're better off coming back to it rested than exhausted).
So how did I do? Did I miss anything?