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5 Secrets to Protecting Your Marriage

5 Secrets to Protecting Your Marriage
All marriages have problems and challenges, some challenges being more difficult than others. This is because a marriage isn't some hot summer romance - you are sharing a life and house with this person. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly (like my hair when I wake up ;) ). My spouse, Ryan, and I have worked very hard to keep focused on our marriage, because we believe that it is the most important relationship we have. We put our marriage before everything else because our family started the day we said "I do." I have vowed not to argue while I'm hungry and he has vowed to always kiss me goodnight. Sadly, it seems that marriage is starting to decline and divorce rates are higher than ever. But marriage can be fulfilling and beautiful despite what society makes it seem! One of my favorite quotes is,

 "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by." - F. Burton Howard

My husband is the king of not arguing with me. When I asked him how he keeps his cool even when my attitude comes out he said, "When things start to heat up and we start to have a conflict I take a step back." He asks himself: "Is this a fight I want to be in? Is it worth it? Does it matter?" (most the time it doesn't). That hit me like a ton of bricks.

I need to be doing that. Now I'm not saying that he lets me walk all over him. He simply just lets me "think" I'm getting my way. He has always been the more mature one. After I cool off we both express our feelings without putting the other one down. I find this to be so important! The things and names you call each other can be the worst thing for your marriage. Our relationship has grown so much from keeping this perspective.

I think learning to see who you are through your partner's eyes will make a world of difference. Take responsibility for you actions and be aware of how your actions affect your relationship. Decide what kind of marriage you want and make a plan with your husband on how to get there. Whether it be goals within your marriage, finances, or parenting. Be on the same page and focus on the positive. Be a team and work together to make your perfect marriage!

Learn to clarify your expectations and let your partner know what you won't tolerate. Marriages fall apart and divorce happens when one has failed to meet the other's expectations. I believe this can be either party's fault. One of you didn't meet those expectations but the other didn't express what those expectations were BEFORE you made vows to always love and cherish the other. Before our wedding day, we talked about the marriage we wanted and who we wanted to be. Don't just expect your husband or wife to know what your expectations are in your marriage. They can't read your mind and relationship expectations are personal - everyone's are different. Fortunately, it's never too late to sit down and talk about this. I once read something that said "If someone fails you, they should have to do it by choice, and not have ignorance as an excuse." How perfect is that? When it comes to what your marriage should look like and what you want you can't be shy - express your feelings.

Ryan and I have also promised to never keep score. We NEVER bring up each others faults from previous altercations. Those problems are over and dealt with and could really hurt one of you. This one is something that can be very hard but it's so worth it. We have vowed to never keep score and chosen to win together as a team.

Finally, protect your marriage from unkind words from you and from others. I am Ryan's biggest fan and supporter and I believe he is mine. We work hard to protect our marriage from things that can destroy it! Social media can be one of these things, so we have given each other full access to passwords. This doesn't mean I am going to sit and read every conversation he has and vice versa it just means that we trust the other enough to know what is going on in our lives. 

And one of the things that has made all the difference for us is never stop being romantic even when you don't feel like it. It really can be the little things. Dressing up and going to dinner, sharing a favorite TV show, kissing on the lips like we mean it, and always saying I LOVE YOU!  Love, Natasha

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