#1 – Live on a Budget and Talk About Money
Everyone knows that money is one of the leading causes of divorce, frustration, and stress. When two sinners come into marriage with two different ideas on how to handle money, naturally there will be trouble. If you want your marriage to be peaceful, you need a plan for what you’re going to do with your money.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”– John Maxwell
Ramsey’s plan is very conservative and narrow. He’s not trying to help you get rich quick. For this reason, he has his critics. However, the reason people resonate with his material is the “P” word in the middle, PEACE.
Ramsey offers a plan which will give you peace as a married couple, and as an individual in regards to finances.If Financial Peace University is out of your price range, you can check out his book The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness for under $15.
#2 – Make Rules For When You Fight
When my wife and I got engaged, I just happened to be taking a Bible college class on marriage and family. There was an entire class on how to have disagreements. The advice seemed so practical and obvious. Yet I know so many people who violated the principles. The big idea, you have to have rules for how you fight.
Think about it! UFC Fighters are paid money to try and hurt another person, and they have dozens of rules on what you can and can’t do. Married couples have committed to love a person for the rest of their life, but they have absolutely no rules for when a fight breaks out. And, unlike what you were told as a child, words can hurt someone for a lifetime.
Here are some suggestions (none of these are sophisticated, just good old fashioned wisdom):
- Don’t say things you don’t mean
- Avoid words like “Always” and “Never”
- Never say something to hurt the other person
- Don’t treat their past mistakes as ammunition
- Don’t keep bringing up the past (and if there is an on-going pattern, address it as a problem to solve, not ammunition against their character)
- Don’t yell at each other
- Don’t start a disagreement while emotional (set a timer and come back an hour later when you’ve calmed down)
It would be wise to regularly re-evaluate your rules of engagement. The longer you’re married, the more you should grow in your understanding of how to respect one another in disagreement.
#3 – Have a Frequent Date Night Without the Kids
Life is busy and hectic, and it gets even more difficult when you throw kids into the mix. When life gets crazy, it’s very easy for your spouse to turn into your roommate who helps drive the kids around. Your spouse needs to be your lover and best friend. When you were dating, that didn’t accidentally happen, you worked to build intimacy and to get to know the person. Once you’re married, you have to keep fighting for the relationship.
When life becomes most hectic, that is exactly when it’s most important to fight for the relationship.
- Do something where you actually talk to each other (dinner and a movie is a good date night. Just a movie is not a good date night for this purpose)
- Don’t talk about the kids
- Don’t talk about your schedule and plans (unless it’s quick)
- Talk to each other about things you’re interested in
Different periods in your life will allow for different frequencies. As newlyweds you probably have a lot more freedom to have date nights, and it’s a great time for you to develop a deep relationship before kids enter the picture. It’s more difficult to have date nights when the kids get older, but it’s essential that your role as parents doesn’t rob your relationship as spouses.
The best gift you can give your kids is to actually love each other.
#4 – Have a Weekend Without Your Kids Each Year
You need annual blocks of time where you only have to relate to each other as spouse and not as parents. Kids provide amazing amounts of joy and stress. Kids create constant important urgency, and urgency creates stress. Growing as spouses is extremely important, but it only feels urgent when marital problems arise. Marital problems arise because you don’t do the important thing of growing as spouses. Having a weekend without the kids gives you a block of time where the urgency of children are removed and you’re given the freedom to just invest in each other.
This doesn’t have to be a vacation. This can simply mean scheduling a marathon sleep over for the kids or sending them off to the grandparents’.
#5 | Be Honest With One Another
I’ve written a great deal on marriage. One thing I don’t believe I’ve ever written about is being honest with your spouse. Not surprisingly, my own choices to isolate in my marriage over the last few years have caused great harm to our relationship.
When we fail to be honest with our spouse, we may live with them, but we’re not living life with them. Marriage requires authenticity and honesty. Without these things there is no trust.
Finally, to be honest with one another, you have to choose to pause long enough to have real conversations.