"What Every Marriage Needs" Marriage Retreat 2015
What Every Marriage Needs
A great photo of the two of you
And, no, your wedding photo doesn't count. It can be a candid from the holidays or a family wedding, as long as it's recent (less than five years old). This shows your commitment to remaining a couple.
A joke no one else shares
Without a sense of humor, you're doomed. My husband and I, married 15 years, have a private vocabulary devised from initials, like "WNTW" or "ITVOJ," that makes us smile when we're around other people and can't talk freely. I'd tell you what those initials mean, but hey—it's our secret!
A fair fight
You won't always agree, but that doesn't mean you have to yell and sling insults. "We don't discuss things when we're upset," says Jamie Lorance of Gilbert, Arizona, married eight years. "Instead, the next day we ask each other to rate the issue on a scale of 1 to 10. If it's a 5 or higher, we talk. If it's lower, we disregard it as being in the past. This has helped us realize we can respect each other's opinion without agreeing."
A reality check
Sometimes even good marriages need a wake-up call. "A few years ago, I had to ask my husband to choose between his family and a job that was keeping him away from us," says Holly Vine of Conyers, Georgia, married 11 years. "Neither of us wanted to get divorced—we'd both been through that as kids. He quit the job because he didn't want to quit on us. It made us realize how important our relationship is."
A promise to stay healthy
Busy lives mean fitness is usually one of the first things to go, but it doesn't have to be that way. "We work out together four times a week in our basement on our treadmill and other machines," says Bonnie K. Schmidt of Bloomington, Minnesota, married 31 years. "Neither one of us dares back out for fear the other will pile on the guilt!"
A willingness to ask for help
No matter how well you know one another, you can't assume your spouse knows what you need. "Women always feel like they should be able to handle everything on their own," says Melissa Herzberg of Freeland, Michigan, married 14 years. "With three children, one of whom has health issues, I felt like I was drowning some days. I finally asked my husband to pitch in more, and now he asks daily what needs to be done, whether it's make dinner, fold laundry or pick up the kids."
Time together and time apart
Nurturing your own interests keeps you happy and independent; nurturing shared interests helps you bond as friends instead of focusing solely on day-to-day concerns like bills and chores. "We sail and ski together, but he loves endurance road biking, while I like to paint and do yoga," says Laurie Fisher of Longmont, Colorado, married 27 years. "Having the space to pursue our individual interests makes our time together that much sweeter."
An acceptance of your differences
When you were dating, you made an effort to understand his likes and dislikes, whether or not you shared them. That shouldn't change after you're married. "My husband is fascinated by World War II and European history, so we travel to historic sites and attend lectures," says Ruth-Ann Fisher Mendel of Youngstown, Ohio, married 25 years. "I've actually enjoyed learning about things I never thought I'd be interested in. We've discovered that each other's pastimes are often fun for us both."
A commitment to work things out
There's something to be said for the familiarity of having "been there, done that" with the man you love. "Over the years, we've endured three miscarriages before our sons were born, job loss and serious illness," says Lois Butler of White Haven, Pennsylvania, married 36 years. "But every trial makes us closer because we choose never to give up on each other.
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