Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage

Love must be as much a light as it is a flame Henry David Thoreau

Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience — trial and error.

Here are 10 principles of success I have learned from working with and observing hundreds of couples:

  1. Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.
  2. Couples discover the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.
  3. If you do what you always do, you will get the same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude, and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.
  4. Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.
  5. Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
  6. The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth — i.e., someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
  7. You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope — almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
  8. Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” — when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
  9. Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Successful couples have learned to resist holding grudges and bringing up the past. They remember that they married an imperfect person — and so did their spouse.
  10. A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.

Today’s article was written by Mitch Temple and is shared from the following website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/daily-living/keeping-romance-alive/ten-secrets-to-a-successful-marriage

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Love is a Choice: 30 Ways to Love in Action

Love is not what you say, love is what you do. Unknown

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen

I recently went with girlfriends to hear one of our favorite beach bands play. Since I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, I talked a friend into taking me home early.

While walking to our car, we witnessed a couple fighting. There was no pushing or shoving.  Fists weren’t involved.  Bizarrely enough, this couple was on opposite sides of the parking lot having their fight over their cell phones.

Due to the volume of their voices, the fight was easy to follow. Apparently, she didn’t give a rip about anyone but herself (his point of view) and he was a control freak (her point of view). There was much discussion back and forth and the words weren’t very nice, so I’ll gloss over that. However, what struck me about that fight was how pointless it seemed.

Did that couple realize how lucky they were to have each other? I wanted to scream at both of them, “What if something tragic happened to one of you on the way home tonight—would this fight have been worth it?”

I see too many couples take their relationships for granted. They forget why they fell in love. They forget the dreams they had and the plans they made. They forget their promises and commitments. The “healthy” of their relationships is based on personal happiness, rather than doing what is best for the both of them.

Love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion. It’s a decision you make every day of your life. Even when your mate doesn’t take out the trash, or spends too much time at the mall, or when your new haircut or outfit goes unnoticed, or when poor financial decisions set you back—you can still decide to love.

Love is for better or worse. And when you choose not to love, you’ve given up and given in.

It’s a decision you’ll regret.

Take it from a widow that wishes every day that she had her husband at home to leave the toilet seat up, or scatter Popsicle sticks and papers all around the couch, or smoke stinky cigars in the house, or forget to pay the bills or pick up the kids. All those imperfections about your mate are what you will miss the most when they are gone.

Choosing to love isn’t always easy, but it is worth the effort.  Here are some ways you can choose to love on a daily basis:

1. Let go of the little things. If you are truly honest, you’ll realize most of them are little things.

2. Give more than you take in your relationship.

3. Love without strings attached.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

5. Look at the world through your mate’s eyes. Seeing things from their perspective helps you better understand their actions and motivations.

6. Pay attention to your mate. Look at them and focus on what they are saying or doing.

7. Before you blame, examine yourself first.

8. Let it be okay that you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

9. Accept and celebrate your mate’s differences and uniqueness. Face it—you can’t change them, but you can change your attitude about their quirks.

10. Validate your mate’s feelings. Don’t try to “fix” their perspective or contradict them. Accept their feelings without judgment or correction.

11. Hold hands.

12. Work as a team. You are life mates, not roommates.

13. Be flexible with your mate. While consensus is always the goal, sometimes we have to bend to the other’s wishes.

14. Share your vulnerabilities and fears with your mate. A load carried by two is easier than one carried alone.

15. Be faithful to your mate, both emotionally and physically.

16. Don’t hide things from your mate. Trust is fragile—handle with care.

17. Send love notes—a card, text, voicemail, or message on a sticky note or the bathroom mirror will do.

18. Laugh.  A lot.

19. Speak respectfully of your mate. They like to hear you talk about them favorably in front of others, but it means even more when you talk glowingly about them when they aren’t around.

20. Encourage your mate to be the best person they can be. Support their hobbies, learning interests, and passions. Be their biggest fan.

21. Apologize. And mean it.

22. Forgive. And mean it.

23. Develop couple rituals that are known only to you. 

24. Work on goals and dreams together. Planning is half the joy.

25. Public displays of affection!

26. Say “yes” more often than “no.”

27. Appreciate the inner beauty of your mate.

28. Accept and love your mate’s family and friends.

29. Schedule time alone together, even if it’s just a walk around the block or drive in the country.

30. Love yourself. You can’t decide to love another until you can decide to love yourself.

Loving another person isn’t easy, and it can’t be based on feelings or emotions that fluctuate like the weather. Choose actions that show your love, and make the decision to do it every day.

Today’s article was written by Cynthia Hughes Lynch and is shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/love-is-a-choice-30-ways-to-love-in-action/

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The Power of Love

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides David Viscott

Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world. However, many husbands and wives think of love as an emotion. In reality, love is an attitude with appropriate behavior. Love is the attitude that says, “I choose to look out for your interests.” Love asks the question, “How may I help you.” Then love is expressed in behavior. The fact that love is action rather than emotion means that I can love my spouse even when I do not have warm feelings toward him or her. If I do or say something that is helpful, my behavior stimulates warm emotions inside my wife. She may not reciprocate immediately, but my loving act has made life better for her. That is what love is all about.

Today’s post was written by Gary Chapman and is shared from the following website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/2014/03/the-power-of-love/

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The Unexpected Key to Loving Others

You can give without loving But you cannot love without giving Amy Carmichael

“Stand guard at the portal of your mind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all know that love is a powerful emotion that has the ability to lift us up, inspire us and make us feel at peace. Studies show that being in love can actually lower your blood pressure and protect against heart disease. There is no disputing that love has positive benefits for our emotional and physical health, which is why so many people expend vast amounts of energy seeking love and doling it out to others around them. Yet how many people invest as much energy into loving themselves as they do in trying to love others around them?

Just as an experiment, I ask you to take one minute and think about what you truly think about yourself. How do you talk to yourself on a regular basis? Do you praise yourself for your achievements, or chide yourself for your failures and shortcomings? When you’re feeling down, do you treat yourself with tenderness and care or anger and frustration? Do you take care of yourself physically or have tendencies to neglect your health? And finally, would you speak to other people you care about the same way you speak to yourself?

If you leaned toward the latter in any of the above, it may be time to think about directing some love back at yourself. Self-love is the essence of all love, as this is where you truly begin to cultivate kindness and compassion. And although the saying, “You must love yourself before you can love anyone else” may be a tad overused, there is a great deal of truth in this notion.

Once you begin to love yourself, you develop a much deeper understanding of how to care for others in a way that is healthy and healing. Although there are many ways you can learn to love yourself more, I suggest starting with the basic notion of a mother’s love for a child. A mother is constantly tuning in to her child’s emotions to determine what the child needs, then attending to those needs with kindness, gentleness, and compassion. A mother will support and encourage her child through thick or thin and attempt to be a positive guiding force throughout the child’s life.

If you can be a loving steward to your own thoughts and emotions and a gentle calming voice much like a mother or guardian angel might be, then you will soon find that your loneliness starts to dissipate, your self-esteem rises, and you will be filled with a great deal of love and compassion to give back to the world.

Once you learn to love yourself, you can then offer that love to others in the same form — that is, tender words, a gentle glance, a kind touch and the ability to inspire self-love in others. By doing so, you are not only benefitting your own health and well-being but that of others around you as well. In fact, even something as simple as a soft touch can have benefits for physical and emotional health.

A recent study by doctors in the UK shows that human touch is vital to brain development in children and key to facilitating a healthy sense of the body and self. The study also suggests that a caressing touch can lower anxiety levels and that effective touch at every stage of life is important for emotional health. Thus, even the smallest gesture of kindness can have a profound effect on well-being.

In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health reports that positive emotions, like enthusiasm, hopefulness, and optimism, can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and depression. These positive attitudes can be cultivated by self-regulating behavior as well as having a supportive network of family and friends. So by offering someone encouragement and support, you may also be lowering their risk of disease.

If we truly want to create a world where love, caring, and compassion comes first, we have to start at the source — ourselves. It is only through self-love that we can begin to give ourselves to others in any beneficial way. To leave you with another Emerson quote that sums up this notion perfectly, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Self-love is where the journey truly begins and where divine abundance comes from.

Today’s article was written by Dr. Cynthia Thalk and is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-cynthia-thaik/practice-self-love-to-rea_b_5399513.html

 

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Your Life, God’s Way

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies Hudson Taylor

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, my church – Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida – rented a billboard near a busy highway. We were looking to attract people to what God was doing in our world. The ad featured an image of me (which made sense because the invitation was coming from the church, and well, I’m the pastor) with these words emblazoned across the ad:

Your Life, God’s Way

Despite the blinding vibrancy of my lime green golf shirt, we got a great response to that billboard. Lots of people visited Celebration for the first time and made it their home. Why? I seriously doubt it was due to my friendly-yet-penetrating gaze as drivers made their daily commute to work each day. No.

What drew people in was that the ad offered a different approach to the one thing everyone is concerned about and probably mulling over on their way to work: my life. Imagine the thoughts of those drivers. It’s not hard because we’ve all had them at one time or another, maybe at this very moment:

  • My life is a mess.
  • My life is going great.
  • My life doesn’t matter.
  • My life is about to change.
  • My life is falling apart.
  • My life has no purpose.
  • My life is too busy.
  • My life is depressing.
  • My life is over-the-top amazing.

The billboard reached all these people behind the wheel – all with different plans, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and so on – and offered them one more lens through which to view their life: God’s way.

Adding these two words has a way of changing our perspective. It forces us to pause and consider that there may be a completely different way of doing life than we are currently doing it, one we may never have considered. I’m sure more than one person drove by that billboard and thought, “God’s way,” huh? What does that look like? It’s gotta be better than the way I’m doing it.

When I first started thinking about my life in terms of God’s way, three life-altering, game-changing realizations came to mind. And speaking now as a pastor, let me add that these apply to anyone.

God has a “way” for our lives. Most people think God is not at all interested in the details of our lives. But he is.

He doesn’t sit in heaven simply watching our lives from the nosebleeds. God wants to be fully involved in your life, and He has a game plan, a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you (Psalm 37:23). As you make Him the first priority in your life, you’ll witness firsthand just how much God wants to be present and active in your life. You will experience His presence on a whole new level.

We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone. Life is challenging, and the cares of life are heavy, but God doesn’t want you to carry the burden alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with Him while He does the heavy lifting (Matthew 11:28). When you put God first, you begin to live in response to Him as He shapes your life. Rather than striving to manipulate and control every outcome under your own strength, you will find that God is standing close, ready to help lighten the load.

God’s way is better than ours.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening (Psalm 19:7-8). I don’t know about you, but my way usually isn’t any of those things. Amazingly, God’s way is not only all those things, but it also meets us wherever we are.

When you feel like your life…

  • is a mess, God works all things out for your good (Romans 8:28).
  • is going great, God has greater things in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • doesn’t matter, God ascribes incredible value to you (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • is about to change, he will be with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5).
  • is falling apart, God is your strength and deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2).
  • has no purpose, God’s purpose for you will prevail (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • is too busy, God’s peace guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
  • is depressing, he is the giver of joy (Romans 15:13).
  • is over-the-top amazing, there is a place to direct your gratitude (James 5:13).

God’s way for your life is the best possible way you can live. This is the God-first life. It’s the life God intends you to live.

Today’s article was written by Stovall Weems and is shared from the following website: https://www.faithgateway.com/your-life-gods-way/#.W3Q_gy-ZNmA

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