Our Marriage Commandments


After three months of dating, JP and I got engaged and life has been perfect ever since. Just kidding. Like all couples, we’ve experienced our fair share of bumps in the road but each obstacle we overcome brings us closer together and strengthens our bond. I want someone who challenges me, inspires me to be my best self, and supports me unconditionally. I have found that in JP and it is a constant comfort to know he loves me and that he knows I love him back.

People often tell us that we are “so cute” as a couple and that through watching us interact, they can see that we are very much in love. All of this is true (come on, we’re adorable) but none of it came without putting in the necessary work. The true measure of love is being together when things aren’t easy, when you aren’t having fun, and when everything feels like a challenge. You know, still loving each other even when you really (really!) don’t like each other.

Relationships have ebbs and flows. I firmly believe that the divorce rate is so high because we take people for granted and treat them as disposable (like our $800 cell phones that we junk after a year). As soon as a relationship gets too hard, we simply move on. The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever, yet people seem shocked by the transition into “real” life. This is a pretty horrifying way to treat a person, especially one who you have vowed to, you know, spend eternity with.

So even though it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it is always worth it and there is no one I would rather be going through the journey of life with than JP.

Our Marriage Commandments

I have a secret: successful marriages take a lot of concentrated effort. We haven’t been married for that long, but we have learned a few things along the way that I think are worth sharing. Our list may be entirely different than yours, and I’d love to hear about what works for you in the comments.

Communicate with each other. I do have an English and communication degree, but that’s not the (only) reason that I put this at the top of the list. Sometimes long-term couples can read each other’s minds, but sometimes they make assumptions that are just plain wrong. Regular communication can help prevent resentment from building and ensure that couples really are on the same page (in the same book).

My experience has shown me that a lot of couples talk about their issues with the wrong person. I have friends who are happy to tell me how they are feeling about something, why they are angry with their partners, and exactly what they want done about it. However, other than providing an ear to listen, there isn’t much I can do to help. Unless couples talk to each other, then nothing is going to change for the better. These friends won’t be identified by acronyms to protect the guilty.

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These elephants do not mess around when they communicate. I’m all for a direct style!

Develop and nurture trust. Often Sometimes life throws you curveballs that you didn’t see coming. It is so important to know that your partner has your back no matter what and that you can put your full trust in that person to support you, advise you, and be there for you. Of course, it is also important to trust that your husband or wife really is where they say they are, but if you didn’t have that kind of basic trust then you wouldn’t have gotten married. Right? I’m talking about the “I trust you with my life” trust, which takes a lot of work to build and very little effort to destroy.

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This couple trusts each other enough to know that they won’t drown out there. What more could you ask for? Me, I’d push JP in and then swim as fast as I could to shore (after we took the picture of course)! Just sayin’.

Make each other your most important priority. Sometimes you have to say no to other people, even people you love, so that you can say yes to each other. It is more important to me that JP is happy than anyone else and he feels the same way about me. We are always looking out for each other’s best interests and we are each other’s biggest supporters, defenders, and fans. We never have to worry about coming in second place to anyone or anything else (yes, this includes work, except on a strictly exception basis that we discuss first).

To be fair, we don’t have children yet (and we may never have them). But I still stand by this commandment and my marriage will always come first (don’t throw tomatoes at me). Of course, small children are going to need attention that will take away from time that I can spend with JP. I’m not talking about being unwilling to make any sacrifices, I’m talking about working together on a balance you can both handle.  I think it’s important that our relationship doesn’t revolve around our (potential) children and that we still carve out time that is just for each other. I do not want to be defined by being a mother when I will also be a wife, daughter, sister, and friend.

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These big cats make cuddle time a priority! Do you? True story: once, JP told me that “there’s no time for cuddles, babe! We have to go!” 

Learn the art of compromise. Disagreements aren’t about winning or losing but about trying to make both people walk away feeling good about the outcome. It can be hard not to get caught up in the emotion of a contentious situation but as my dad always said, as soon as you start yelling or losing your temper, you’ve already failed. As challenging as it can be, try to always put your love and respect for your partner before any other emotion and most importantly, be kind! We are often more polite to total strangers than our own family members, which is just crazy talk. There is always time for kindness (and cuddles, JP).

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It’s all about give and take! If you both try to give more than you take, imagine how sweet life would be. 

Make time to have fun. Married life can be monotonous. Wake up, work, come home, make dinner, possibly work more, walk the dog(s), go to bed, and repeat. Grownups have mortgages, bills, obligations, and many demands on their time that they don’t necessarily choose. That’s why it is so important to carve out time to have fun. Children have fun everyday and adults need to plan and schedule their fun, but such is life. This could mean many different things depending on the couple but whatever makes you laugh, smile, and feel happy together – do more of it!

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Snowballs make snow worthwhile. Couples who play with balls together stay together.

Always appreciate each other. I’m not a relationship guru. I’m just a gal who has been around the block a few times, learned a few things, and wants to compare notes with other couples. To sound more guru-ish, I should tell you that I always appreciate JP, always tell him that he’s wonderful, and that there is no taking each other for granted in our household. But then I’d be a liar. I don’t tell him nearly enough that I’m grateful for what he brings to our home, family, and marriage or that he’s a totally awesome dude. Today, I’m going to make it a point to.

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Life is short. Take a moment to enjoy it and appreciate what you have. The secret to having it all? Knowing that you already do.

Practice active listening. We have all heard the sage advice that we have two ears and one mouth so we should act accordingly. However, this can be hard to do, especially during a disagreement. Listening is not about waiting for your turn to talk or simply hearing someone speak. It’s about being active and engaged in a conversation that isn’t all about you and really trying to understand someone else’s point of view.

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This could be a good approach to getting JP to listen more. If it fails, I could always take a nap on him instead.

Learn the value of forgiveness. I often marvel at the world of B (and all dogs really, but trust me when I say that B is special). B is fully present in every moment because he never thinks ahead or looks back. He lives in the here and now and has a perfectly wonderful dog life as a result. A stressed out dog could not sleep peacefully for as many hours as B does. This is one of the most important lessons B has taught me about life: focus on the present; let go of the past; don’t hold grudges; and add more forgiveness.

Hint: to forgive means to let something go and not save it as ammunition for future arguments.

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The faces of forgiveness (or abject despair, I can’t decide).

Create meaningful traditions. I think every couple needs meaningful traditions that are unique to their relationship. It could be going to the same restaurant every year on your anniversary, taking a big trip for milestone anniversaries, or simply a daily ritual like kissing each other hello and good-bye. People find comfort in the familiar and I don’t know about you but I look forward to celebrating my favourite traditions with my partner (and making new ones!).

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Romantic dinners for two are a tradition I could get behind supporting (as long as I don’t have to do the dishes after).

Don’t forget to be intimate. I’m not talking about sex (well, not just about sex). It’s important to make the time to connect on a physical, emotional, and mental level because all three are equally important to a healthy connection. Life gets busy and sometimes people put the most important relationship they have on the backburner because they feel safe enough to do so. Complacency is dangerous; no one wants to feel taken for granted. I firmly believe that we make time for what’s important to us and nothing should be more important than our marriage.

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See, guys? Even monkeys ask for back rubs first. And, no, it can’t be after (you’ll be asleep. History repeats itself).

Pick your battles. When you spend a lot of time with someone, you are privy to all of their bad habits. If you decide to point out every single one all the time, then you are going to cause a lot of unnecessary arguments. When you’re married, there are enough challenges that you have to face. Creating conflict when there doesn’t need to be any simply doesn’t make sense.

Consider what you’re griping about: will it matter in a month? A year? Most importantly, will it serve any purpose if you bring it up (other than annoying and isolating your spouse)? Take an example of dishes not being put in the dishwasher. It will take you less energy to put the dishes into the machine yourself than it will take for you to complain about it and start a fight. Trust me, there’s a list of things about you that your partner gives you a free pass on too.

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Choose the issues that you’re going to lock horns about very carefully. Life is stressful enough without fighting over things that don’t matter.

As a bonus, men just need to remember this one simple commandment and marriage will be amazing: a happy wife means a happy life.


66 thoughts on “Our Marriage Commandments

  1. Very wise and very cute. There is a lot of valuable suggestions from someone who has learned a lifetime of wisdom in a very short period of time. If people practice your suggestions, the divorce rate WOULD reduce!
    Thought I would pass one fact along you didn’t mention. Men average 25,000 spoken words per day; women average 75,000 spoken words. Some women argue this is because they have to repeat themselves 3 times as often to get the men to HEAR them! 😀
    Stay healthy and happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, I’m a fast learner 😀

      LOL at your fact! The worst is when I assume my husband isn’t listening to me and I ask him to repeat what I just said…and somehow he can! I swear, men have learned a trick to ignore women and also somehow hear them at the same time.

      JP has told me that if he ever needs a hearing aid when he gets older, he will simply turn it off when he is done listening to me for the day (not amused!).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that “supposed to be” are the operative words! I see so many people struggling in their marriages and a lot of times it’s simply because they are getting in their own way and not communicating. I’ve learned that when I’m open and honest with my husband about what I want and need, he’s almost always happy to oblige (unless I’m making him visit some friends he doesn’t care for, lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! This is the kind of stuff I tell people all the time. Being married or in a committed relationship isn’t easy, it takes work every day. Especially when you have a kid. We have a 13 month old, its so easy to get lost within your role as a parent and forget about your duties as a spouse. It took a couple of months for us to feel like a couple again and not just parents. But through our daughter we have learned so much about ourselves and how to communicate better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do worry about how our marriage will change if we do decide to have kids. It’s easy for me to say what we’re going to do when I’m sitting over here child free, but it’s an entirely different thing to live it. I just hope that we can take the same principles that we learned as a child free couple and continue to apply them even after our family expands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I worried about the same thing cause I loved the dynamic of our relationship. I never wanted to have kids when I was younger. This might make me sound like a horrible person, but I always thought they were a burden. But once I met my husband, my feelings obviously changed. Eveyone is different but I truly believe Jayne brought us even closer. I’ll be honest, we don’t go out on dates like we used to, but strangely enough we enjoy those few hours together on the couch when Jayne goes to bed. That’s our time to connect and make eachother feel important.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true. It’s so easy to slip into taking our marriages for granted. I think people forget that “I love you” doesn’t equal “I will never leave you.” We really do have to treasure our partners and treat them with respect.

      Thank you for the nomination and for your kind words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, and so much sage insight. I could rattle on and on, in agreement, about what you wrote, but I will just add this: I think the hardest part of being being in a relationship is finding someone who challenges you and inspires you to be your best self while at the same time supports you unconditionally. A truly spiritually intimate relationship is not one in which the other challenges and inspires through pointing out flaws and failings. There has to be a mutual respect in which each other trusts the other knows those flaw and failings, and so there is no need to point them out. Healthy unconditional support between two people occurs where the unconditional support occurs along side each person’s sincere commitment to work on him or herself to be the best they can be. My partner accepts my flaws at the same time I struggle to confront and overcome those flaws. In other words, I can’t (nor can my partner) fall back on the excuse “I am what I am” (or the common one “you know my flaws when you got involved with me”).

    To find such a dynamic where this occurs in both directions is very rare, in part because so many people are trained culturally to fixate on their own and other’s flaws. Obviously neither partner will be perfect at engaging the other in this manner, we are human after all, but it can be a consistent core. I feel blessed that I have finally (after fifty years) of finding such a relationship, with the knowledge that this is not a destination I have arrived at, but a journey I will take with my partner for the rest of our time together.

    Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am on my second marriage 😳 and never thought I would go through it again. But you are right to have communication at the top of your list for sure and making time for each other….those two things failed in my first marriage and it’s hard to rally if you can’t talk!
    My second marriage is wonderful, open and I feel supports….don’t you just love it when he grabs your hand while walking to the grocery store…love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sounds like your second marriage is a strong relationship that makes you both happy. In this day and age, sometimes that doesn’t happen the first time around! Life is too short to be unhappy, so I’m glad that you made the best decision for you and your future happiness 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey, Scarlet! I really enjoyed reading through your article, “Our Marriage Commitments.” As a very grateful husband of 50 years, I can say that such advice could have really helped me as a developing husband! However, I was blessed to have a very understanding and patient wife, a mother who continued to give me advice on how to be a better husband and father, and glad for all the books, tapes, videos, workshops, week-ends, and conferences on marriages my wife was willing to attend with me. Early on in our marriage, I became painfully aware that I had some unresolved issues needing solving, along with some much-needed growing up that I needed to do! Please continue to share your blogs with the world—there is still much relationship and marriage issues needing assistance around the world!

    I also enjoyed how you outlined your post by with the headers, and with the various pictures that helped someone like me who has some learning and information processing issues. I am a newbie with my blogging, and plan to improve my work by taking some lessons from your page!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I have been blogging for a few months now so I am still learning what works and what doesn’t, and I do really appreciate any feedback that I get.

      My husband and I are definitely still working on perfecting the things I outlined on my list, but we are committed to doing it so that we can have a happy, healthy, and long-lasting marriage – like yours! I think 50 years together is such an incredible milestone 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Himself and I have now clocked up 20 years together and yes, ups and downs are normal. It’t how you handle them that matters.

    We only have one marriage rule: We may not go to bed with an argument unresolved.
    It only took one time where we stayed up until 3:00 a.m. (and then got up to be ready for work at 6:30 !!!) to realize that we never want it to take that long to resolve our differences, but we keep to this rule. It stops anything festering for days on end and keeps things in proportion.

    We also agree to differ on some things. As long as the foundation of your marriage is strong = love, trust.values, faithfulness, commitment, communication, etc then the virtual “home” that you build on top of those foundations is allowed be a quirky mix of both of your styles, ideas, personality. After all we are two different people and we have our own opinions, strengths, weaknesses and ways of doing things.

    Himself has issues with a few things I do, The analogy is that it’s like he dislikes the decor in one of the rooms, it’s a small issue so no big deal, I don’t like some things he does either, or a few views he takes on child rearing, the analogy is that it’s like a garish crooked window he put in our house together…but it’s a part of him, the man I married.
    I always use a few question to put things in perspective: “In one year time will this be a big deal? does this issue really matter in the bigger picture of our entire lives together? If Himself died tomorrow would I be complaining about this, or just wishing his quirky ways back?”

    I think that marriage is all about loving each other always, but that doesn’t mean that you have to like them all the time 🙂 Learn to appreciate what you have and look at the positive things and not the negative. No one is perfect, and if by chance you found someone who was they would probably annoy the heck out of you very very quickly.
    We find that two imperfect people fit rather well together, 🙂 We just have to work at it one day at a time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s amazing advice from someone with a lot more perspective than I have! JP and I are only on 4 years together, so it will be interesting what my thoughts are when we reach 20. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Like

  7. Beautiful post. I’ve been married 23 years and still consider my husband my best friend, though life is never perfect and we’ve been through our share of hard times. Talking, sharing interests, accepting each other warts and all and positivity are all important … as are keeping those date nights alive! Keep smiling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading! I always feel like getting it right is a “work in progress” but as long as you are both dedicated to doing what’s best for the marriage (and not necessarily for yourself personally) then I think that makes a world of difference. Even if we do decide to have kids, we have committed to keeping date night! 🙂

      Like

  8. We married young, nearly 36 years ago and have weathered together serious health issues, cancer and kidney failure, raised two kids, crazy financial setbacks plus through it all we stayed committed to each other. The list is great in think you could have broken it up in to posts. Well written and nicely broken up with photos and captions.
    Lists are tough in speeches or blogs and I think some people top out at five in a row. Acronyms help and of course easier to use them for small lists.
    My last thought – keep dating your beloved, you didn’t get complacent when you were dating and they still deserve that 5 star treatment.
    Write on!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hearing about long, successful marriages always makes me happy 🙂 it sounds like you’ve been through a lot as a couple but the most important take away for me is that you’re still together!

      My list started off small, but I kept thinking of more things that I wanted to share (as usual). I try to make even my longest posts easy to digest with pictures and captions though!

      I agree about “dating” and my husband and I need to get better at that. We still have date night, but probably not as often as we should. You’ve inspired me to do more of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. You have really spotted a lot of truths about relationships. The world is in desperate need of cooperation. I love that you spread truths about life. Keep it going and have a magic touch!! .) XxOo

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great Post! God is Love and it looks like you are on target with Him. See 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 learn More about that unconditional love. You know, God loves us no matter what…I am amazed at his love for us… his prize creation, the human race. God Bless you and your husband and family!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great list! You have a refreshing voice … not preachy, with just the right amount of personal sharingl 🙂

    I have been married (child free) for 8 years to the love of my life and I feel that we are still as in love with each now. I think we will be fine 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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