Without clear marriage priorities, your relationship may be doomed to fail.
Even worse, many couples fight because their priorities are not in alignment. Being aware of the five key priorities in marriage is going to save you a lot of stress and fighting in your marriage.
Being aligned on these five marriage priorities will help you see life as a series of hurdles rather than a series of obstacles!
Priority One: Values and Principles
People with religious aspirations often mistake sharing the same religion as having the same values and principles.
It’s only later on that they discover that they share a faith in name, but their values and principles are not in alignment or not prioritized in the same order. People without a shared faith have this problem as well, but they lack the illusion of alignment.
Whether you share the same faith, are agnostic or an atheist, having your values and principles articulated and prioritized will make a huge difference in your marriage. It is so much simpler to make a decision when you both are clear and aligned on values and life principles.
If you do share a faith, a key principle might be keeping God at the center of your marriage for example. This is not going to be the only principle you live your life by, however.
That’s why you really want to talk about life principles and values.
How To Explore Values And Principles
There are simple tools online that you can use to start this conversation.
There are many values tests out there, if you both take the same values test and compare the results, that’s the beginning of a conversation. Another way from a religious perspective would be to read from the same text and discuss what the text means to both of you.
Exploring values and principles is simpler than it sounds. Anytime you’re watching a program on television where there is a conflict, discuss both sides of the conflict and see where you both fall and why.
Start writing down your conclusions. You may want to get some outside help with this, talk to a third party. Talk about values can lead to contention.
Contention is not necessarily bad, how you handle it is what makes a difference over whether it’s a conflict or a creative conversation.
How you handle conflict will reflect your values in principles. Some people avoid conflict, some dive into it with fervor. In a healthy relationship, you want to land somewhere in the middle on this. Enjoying conflict too much is often a sign of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Conflict avoidance similarly is unhealthy.
Priority Two: Your Partnership
Your partner is your greatest asset in life.
You pick them because they have strengths that you don’t. You pick them because they see strengths in you that you don’t even recognize.
They can be your greatest ally and support her and vice versa. Putting this relationship on the front burner on a daily basis will save you so much confusion in the future!
Remember that your partner has strains that you don’t and as such their situations they’re going to be better suited for than you and vice versa. When you have daily communication, you’re much more likely to work through challenges together leaning into one another strengths.
When the pandemic first started almost every couple that came to us for help had lost sight of their partners a priority. Their priorities were work, children, self. Their partner fell off the radar.
In fact, many saw their partner as another need they had to meet. When you put your partner second, you have an ally who can help you with children and work.
There’s a synergy in a partnership that does not happen when you’re working and living parallel lives.
How To Enhance Your Partnership
An intimate relationship is founded on caring communication, trust, and empathy.
Ensure daily communication of some kind. Even if it’s just going through a list of what you both accomplished and what you both have in front of you the next day, it is worthwhile.
You can’t help one another if you’re not talking about it!
Schedule a weekly date night. Put down your phones, focus on one another and talk. If you can avoid talking about work a date night great!
If something really pressing is happening work, don’t resist it. The idea is to talk and to help one another. You just don’t want date night to de-evolve into complaining about work all the time.
Watch your mouth. You know those little jokes and remarks that you make to one another sometimes? They can actually be hurtful. Even worse you can both become thick-skinned over time.
You’re going to want to reduce or eliminate sarcasm and snarkiness if possible. If not you might want some help with this.
Every week sit down and go through your calendars together. Once a season take a night or a weekend together if you can get that kind of time without being too worried about your children. Once a year sit down and schedule out major holidays together.
Go to community events together at least twice a year, make new friends :-).
Priority Three: Children
Once you have the teamwork sorted out you’re ready for your children. You can meet them as a unified front.
You may want to cut up time with them individually, but you’re always going to want to talk about what happened and keep each other on the same page.
How To Get On The Same Page About Children
Talk about your children, what you both see. You’re going to have different perspectives on this. This is what strong partnerships are for, to fill in the blanks for one another and talk about concerns.
Go to school functions together whenever possible. It may seem redundant, but it gives a message to your children and it keeps you on the same page.
Going to children’s sports events together will again give your children a message of unity.
Priority Four: Extended Family
Having a relationship with your extended family is vital. It’s vital for your marriage, you are both the conglomerate of your ancestors.
Honoring one another’s parents, even if you don’t particularly like them is important. By honoring your partner’s parents, you honor your partner.
The chances are they may not like some of the qualities of their parents that you don’t like. That doesn’t stop them from loving their parents and it shouldn’t stop you.
How To Pull This Off
Yes, it is possible to love someone even when they have qualities you don’t like. You married their child, you love their child, therefore by extension, there are qualities they have that you love.
Remember that love is an action verb. Love is a muscle that we exercise. Do not squirm away from this, do not be lazy.
It’s also very important for your children that you have these relationships. Having a relationship with an extended family helps your children have a sense of continuity and history.
It gives them a sense of a wider network of support. That many people love them and care for them besides their parents.
Priority Five: Work and Community
Of course, we all work to eat. Some of us even work because we like it. The reason why this is the fifth priority is because our work and our community support the other four priorities.
Not only do we want to show up at work with integrity, but we want to be plugged into our community as caring members as well.
If you’re at a job you don’t like, don’t complain about it. Do the best that you can with the job. Give it 110%. You chose it after all.
If you really don’t like it find a job you like better!
Similarly, if you don’t like your community, get the heck out!
The alternative is to figure out what it is you don’t like and try and change it. It might be something between your own ears that’s the problem, it might be that there’s something that you can really impact in the community if you work at it.
The point is don’t just wait for things to change. Be the change you want to see!