Do you believe a marriage can be perfect? Obviously, no relationship is, but after reading the following “Family Rules” you may become more positive in your response to that question.
Back when we first got married, my mother-in-law gifted us a canvas of one of our engagement photos. Next to the photo listed, 11 statements entitled “Home Rules” to serve as a reminder of how to put family relationship needs first.
Considering we have moved twice and my chronic need to redecorate and move things around, this picture of us continues to be a constant fixture in our master bathroom. I read those rules often and ponder upon the innocence shown on our faces. Not yet married, we had yet to face the challenges that laid ahead. What our future held was a mystery. The lessons ahead of us were priceless. We are no longer are the kids in that photo. So I cherish this print, not only for the nostalgia it imparts, but for the reminder that each day is an opportunity to love, be loved and work towards becoming a healthy and happy family.
This list is 100% applicable to an entire family, but is described in detail below as relating to spouses.
In the midst of composing this post, I’m realizing how vulnerable and raw this is turning out to be. My hope is that it will touch your and your family in a much needed way.
11 Rules to Make a [Nearly] Perfect Marriage
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Always Be Honest
Secrets within a marriage will eventually tear the relationship. What one person doesn’t know will snatch the potential for growth, robbing the relationship of what it could have been. The person that chooses to hold onto the lies will eventually feel the weight of the deceit, no matter how unseeingly small the lie is.
I have often told this story: how thankful I am to have experienced a deceitful relationship prior to meeting the man I was to marry. Why? I learned one of the most valuable lessons I needed to learn.
At the very beginning of the relationship with my husband, one night, he blatantly announced that he would never be with someone who had ever been unfaithful. I had two choices. The first, being to lie to him about my past. After all, it was my past, and it’s really none of his business…. The second, to tell him immediately that I suppose I should leave, because I had been unfaithful. I immediately opted for the second option swiftly explaining how I was actually extremely thankful for my heartbreaking, emotionally exhausting, life altering mishap because it actually ensured the safety of my future marriage. I had gone through such turmoil, guilt and shame that I knew in the depths of my soul that I’d never do that again.
So take it from me, holding onto a lie will eat you alive inside. And trust me, eventually, it’ll always come out.
Count Your Blessings
It took me about six years to really grasp the concept of being truly thankful. Unfortunately, in order to see the beauty in my life, I’ve needed to experience some ugly circumstances and struggles. I’m not certain this is the case for everyone, and I sure hope my life can move along blissfully without needing to experience those struggles again!
One of the helpful tools I found in my search for growth was a fabulous devotional called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp based on her book One Thousand Gifts. I have discussed her work with many people who also agree that it has enormously helped them see the beauty in their own lives.
No matter your circumstances, you are surrounded by God’s grace, peace and beauty; your eyes just need to be able to see it.
Bear Each Other’s Burdens
Often times, when we are sharing another’s burdens, it really doesn’t feel good for us. After all, we are choosing to partake in hurts, negative situations and ugly feelings when we could just choose not too. But as much as it may not feel good at the time, no matter how long the time lasts, it is always worth jumping into the pool of hurt with your family.
My marriage to an entrepreneur has really allowed me to share in my husband’s negative feelings and insecurities. To be quite frank, there was a time in my life when I almost resented how much I was able to feel his hurts, anxieties and struggles, and to constantly go through the mud with him. But thankfulness flooded over me at just the right time when he pointed out that my ability to support him emotionally made all the difference for him.
Now when he needs me most, I am equipped to give him what he needs. I have found prayer is the most important tool I have in bearing his burdens. Also, involving God in bearing the burden is critical. In one season of struggle, we chose to read a chapter of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren before nightly TV time. After 40 nights, we had come to recognize the peace there despite the struggle.
Forgive and Forget
Forgiveness. That’s the easy part. Forgetting, that’s where it gets tough. Some are more easily inclined to forget than others, while some just can’t seem to let go. All I can say is that prayer is needed to fully rid yourself of the hurt that someone else has caused.
Holding onto a grudge from a past hurt will hurt you, foremost, and the relationship subsequently. The grudgee will often times not be phased and wonder why you are being such a *itch. So then, it becomes your fault.
What I’ve learned is to ask myself is, “Is this worth ruining my relationship over?” Am I willing and wanting to end it over holding onto my stance?” If the answer is no, my tune must change, quickly. Moving on toward outwardly loving your spouse is the only way to live happily. Both parties will hurt each other and make mistakes but the relationship moves on… if each can forgive and forget.
Be Kind And Tenderhearted
It amazes me how easy it is to be kind to nearly everyone you encounter in public yet when you get home, kindness and tenderness is meekly unidentifiable. It truly is a sad story that I have often lived. Oftentimes, attitudes get in the way of any tender acts. If you have followed me at all, you will know I used to struggle with my attitude, especially with those that I loved the most. If you struggle with this too, The Attitude Antidote Daily Devotional can work wonders on your heart.
Your spouse will always be there when you get home, so don’t let their dedication be the thing that punishes them.
The fact they’ll be there is a blessing not an excuse to act however you want to act.
On a more positive note, don’t forget that kindness and being tender is contagious.
Comfort One Another
It’s so incredible knowing that there is someone who has your back 24-hours a day, no matter what. If you’re hurt, needing a hug, a kiss, some tenderness, or a bit of understanding they’re there. How incredible is it that you have a forever person that you can go to to get these things!
But sometimes, people may not realize how much they need from an emotional perspective. So as a spouse, it’s our job to recognize that. Offering love, attention and comfort when someone needs it the most brings people together and bonds them beyond belief.
Therefore it’s important that your spouse is the person you are heading to for comfort. A word of warning, if you find yourself consistently going to a parent, friend or someone else over your spouse, there may be a deeper rooted issue than you may realize. Allow him/her bring your comfort, it’s one of the biggest benefits of a marriage!
Keep Your Promises
Do you remember the words you vowed on your wedding day? I wanted to be sure I did, so I added them into our wedding photo book. Why? because they are powerful promises made the day we got married and I am intending to keep them for as long as I live. I assume yours are along the same lines as ours, so go ahead and use these as a reminder!
Be Supportive of One Another
This one reminds me of a time when my husband came to me and wanted to quit his job to begin a pool business. (A first of many changes in our entrepreneur life.) But let me tell you as a spouse, it required trust and a lot of verbal support.
It can be scary to make big changes when outcomes are unknown, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. When opinions differ, it becomes difficult to understand the other side of the story, so just remember to keep an open mind to whatever your spouse feels they may need.
Be True To Each Other
Marriage is a lifelong decision. Hence, why I love sending 7 Secrets to Marry the Right One at the Right Time to anyone looking for a mate. For better or worse, the promise made on the wedding day was to choose this person everyday, even on the days you don’t really want them.
To expect a fairy tale marriage is silly. But I believe if you stay true to one another and try daily to be a good person to them, then you can certainly attain the happily ever after.
Look After Each Other
What this means to you may differ than the way I apply it to my life. I believe this means that we need to meet each others needs, as best explained by The Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. Men and women, and people in general, need to be looked after in different ways to meet their different needs.
What I expect is to be taken care of financially, physically and emotionally. I need my husband to provide us a good living, to keep us safe from harm and to meet my need for affection. I have learned that my husband needs my support, affirming statements and frequent small gestures to keep him feeling loved.
Looking after the emotional side of your relationship will ensure that it never dries up.
Love One Another Deeply
Like discussed above, people feel love more vividly via different avenues, but the bottom line is that everyone longs to be loved with a love so deep that they feel complete. This deep desire for love was put there by the one and only creator, God himself. He desires you to desire Him and He put that need in your soul so you may find Him. Yes, your spouse can love you deeply, but it will never complete you. Only God’s perfect love can do that and fill the space that each and every human so deeply desires. People can let us down, but God never will.
Our marriages and families are one of the biggest gifts the Lord has given, so let us be so thankful for the people in our lives that love us the most. Let us love one another so deeply that we get lost in it. Let us live with a deep love that mimics Christ’s love, one that is selfless, enduring and forgiving. Let us love with endless compassion, and a desire to make one another feel euphoric. Let our love not be held back because of stress, worry, hurt or other circumstances. Instead let us love our spouses with everything that we can give.
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