Last month Josh and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. I was asked what the secret is. I don’t really think there’s a secret to making a marriage last but if I had to sum it up, I might use words like stubbornness or persistence. You have to refuse to give up, even when the going gets tough.
Before we were married, we did premarital counseling. In all the wedding planning blogs and timelines and lists of things to do after you become engaged, this little step rarely makes the list. Someday I’d really like to expand upon this subject, because it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. In the meantime, there are three things that I remember our counselor telling us to do regularly to increase our chances of a successful marriage.
Photography: Samantha James Photography
- Listen for 20 Minutes a Day
20 minutes of uninterrupted conversation per day is essential. It’s also nearly impossible and anyone with kids will agree. We don’t sit there with a stopwatch or anything, but we both make a point to listen to one another and share what’s on our minds each day. Communication is key to success.
- Date Once a Week
7 years ago I remember thinking what an easy concept this sounded like. Once a week, we go out or stay in or do something together. Put the phones away and just spend some quality time. But through the years, it’s gotten much harder. We have busy schedules, he works full time and has passions on the side, I own a business, we have two kids under the age of 5, babysitters are expensive and often hard to come by, there are home improvement projects in the works and the list goes on.
For us, date night often is the equivalent of putting the girls to bed a half hour early and then eating dinner together, just the two of us. We might watch a movie or play games, we rarely even leave the house for our dates anymore. But that’s what works for us. And we might not actually do this once a week, but we do try to make some sort of an effort on this front. Scheduling it ahead of time so we have something to look forward to is also really helpful.
- Get Away Once a Month
The last piece of this quality time equation requires you as a couple to disconnect from the outside world for 24 hours. Whether it’s an overnight stay out of town or you send the kids to grandma’s for the day, our counselor recommended planning a getaway once a month. This one is by far the hardest and we rarely follow this suggestion. We have our nights away from the girls here and there and definitely take advantage as much as possible, but we don’t’ stick to this rule. However, it think it’s still worth mentioning and maybe someday we’ll be able to get back on track with this tidbit of advice.
If you didn’t notice the pattern, spending quality time and communication is key. A marriage can’t thrive without meaningful interaction and understanding, along with the persistence to stick to these guidelines and never give up on one another. While I’m certainly not an expert on the subject, I think if your partner always remains a top priority, your chances of success are greatly increased.