Every married couple wants to be happy. As they exchange their vows on their wedding day, their minds and hearts are filled with thoughts, dreams and expectations of a happily-ever-after future. This is good and right, but what few anticipate is that it will require a large amount of perseverance and determination on the part of each spouse. A happy marriage is not going to happen automatically or easily. You will carefully need to set and maintain the right priorities. And both spouses will need to be fully committed "“ after all, it takes two to tango "“ if only one of you is trying to make things work, it won't.
So what are these priorities? I am talking about relationships… all the important relationships that we all have in our lives. If you were to represent yourself as being in the centre of a circle, surrounded by expanding concentric circles, the person closest to you would be in the innermost circle, and other important relationships in the next circle and so forth until you have mere acquaintances in the outermost circle.
For a married person, the innermost circle of your heart is where your spouse belongs, and every other relationship needs to shuffle up to another level. When your children come along, as precious as they are, they will need to go in the very next circle. Then close family members and friends and so forth. When these circles (or priorities) get mixed up and displaced it does not bode well for the marriage. For example, it often happens that children can slip into the inner circle and displace the spouse "“ this is bad news for both the marriage and the children. Another danger would be when the parents or in-laws are dominating a marriage and the husband or wife allows their mother (or father) to take priority over their spouse.
Keeping your spouse in this inner circle is in fact the only way to cherish and safeguard your marriage to last the distance of a lifetime. It often happens unintentionally that you allow other relationships or the busyness of life to creep in and overwhelm this sacred circle. So if you are thinking that perhaps you and your spouse may be floating in different circles, it's time to do a little relationship stocktaking and set your priorities on track, getting the circles of happiness in your marriage in order again.
Here are a few practical tips and things to remember every day as you make sure that you place each other in the number one circle closest to your heart.
It's the little things that count
Before you scramble out of bed in the morning, take a few seconds for a good morning kiss. Tell your spouse that you are so glad to wake up beside them and share another day together. It really is the little things that count "“ a simple thank you, or please, instead of just letting things pass; putting your cell phone off when you are having a meal together; showing affection, a gentle touch as you pass each other or an arm around the shoulder as you sit together on the sofa, noticing a smile or a frown, and sharing a funny moment.
Keep in touch throughout the day
Nowadays with so much technology and social media it does not have to be a matter of "˜out of sight, out of mind' when you leave for work. Send each other little messages or pictures at least once during the day, just to say "˜I'm thinking of you and I'm looking forward to seeing you again soon'. You may find it will make a big difference in helping you to stay feeling connected, and when you do meet up at the end of the day it will be even better. Then before you turn in for the night try sharing with each other your best and worst moment of your day.
Be there for each other when needed
The wonderful thing about being married is that you have someone special to face the ups and downs of life with "“ right? So make sure that you are there for each other during the highs and lows. If your spouse is giving a speech or playing in a tournament, you are the primary fan! If you are sick or in hospital, you will surely want your spouse to be perched on the side of your bed holding your hand. When your spouse has a big disappointment or loss, like a retrenchment or a bereavement, that's when you need to be especially close, understanding and sensitive. And then of course, don't forget the anniversaries and birthdays.
Do the chores together so you have more time for each other
There's no doubt that most women find it extremely sexy and attractive when her man helps her with the dishes, cooking, cleaning, ironing and whatever else needs doing. It's much more fun to do stuff together "“ it gets done more quickly too, and then you have more time to relax and really get romantic. This not only sets a great example for the kids to see mom and dad working together, but also conserves precious energy which can be well used having fun together.
Show your kids how it works
When mom and dad are safely tucked into each other's inner circle of happiness in marriage, with the kids held closely in the second circle, it creates a firm foundation for the home and shows the kids how a marriage was meant to be. This also prevents the children from becoming self-centred and thinking that the universe revolves around them which can often happen if they slip into that inner circle and oust the spouse. Hopefully you and your spouse can give your children a great foretaste of what their own healthy and happy marriages can look like one day in the future.