When you first say the words “I do,” the idea that your marriage will last forever feels like a given.
Of course it will! That’s why you’re committing for life in front of God and everybody!
You met the right person and he miraculously felt all melty with you just like you did with him.
Your marriage will definitely last forever and ever. The end.
I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?
Then life kicks in and there’s a misunderstanding and you notice he has a strange way of doing things, or he hurts your feelings or gets very angry.
Oooh! Maybe he has an anger problem and you notice that the “forever” part seems longer than it did during that “I do” session.
That’s when the you who was looking forward to a lifetime together with your greatest love would like to know how to get back to having that kind of faith. Or was it just ignorance and immaturity?
It’s a big accomplishment to stay married forever, and some marriages do last a lifetime. If it’s possible for some people, then it stands to reason it’s possible for you too.
I used to think it was just luck, but now I know from my own experience that there are powerful habits that contribute to marriage longevity.
Not that I’ve been married forever yet! It’s something I’m definitely aiming for and feeling optimistic about.
Here are three habits that will give you an unfair advantage for making your marriage last a lifetime.
1. Use Your Power for Good
As a wife you have tons of power and influence over your husband.
You can influence the way he sees himself, like whether he thinks he’s capable and competent or whether he thinks he’ll probably mess everything up.
You have power to make him feel successful as a father and husband or to make him feel he’ll never measure up.
You might feel like that’s not in your power because your husband simply is or isn’t capable, is or isn’t competent or a good husband and father. You might feel you’re just reflecting back what you see truthfully.
But what you see depends on which perspectacles you wear.
If you wear your grateful glasses, you’re likely to see a lot of things he is doing right.
Maybe like me, you’ve taken some of those things for granted, since that’s just human nature.
Maybe the things he’s doing wrong seem much bigger.
Or maybe you think, like I used to, that you shouldn’t have to compliment him for doing his job, like fixing the garbage disposal or picking up salad at the store or fixing the Wi-Fi.
But how would your life be different if he didn’t do those things?
2. Try the High School Lesson that Changed My Life
My high school English teacher and mentor, Mrs. Carpenter, showed our 11th grade English class how to write letters describing the exceptionally good products and services—or exceptionally bad products or services—we encountered at local businesses.
An important part of the lesson was to put TWICE as much gratitude into the world as complaints by writing twice as many letters of appreciation.
We were amazed to see the lavish responses we got from businesses we acknowledged with gratitude.
We scored free comic books and movie tickets, a side of french fries and a medium Coke, and more.
Expressing our gratitude was like magic! We saw for ourselves that we got a better response from appreciation than we ever did by complaining.
Thanks to that lesson from Mrs. Carpenter, there’s a structure inside our private group that every post starts with two wins, or two things you’re grateful for.
An important part of the training is to put TWICE as much gratitude into the world as complaints. As you can imagine, the members of our program are amazed to see the magic that habit creates.
So thank you, Mrs. C. You changed my life and I’m forever grateful!
But focusing on what you’re grateful for does more than get you free frozen yogurt. It’s also an antidote to a common enemy of lasting marriages.
3. Beware of This Enemy of Forever Marriages
The threat I’m talking about is resentment. It’s as common as it is poisonous for lasting marriage.
But since you can’t feel both grateful AND resentful at the same time, there’s a simple, effective cure for it.
That cure is to make a list of at least 20 things that you’re grateful for about your husband.
It might seem very hard to do. It might seem impossible to do! Or it might just seem ridiculous and awkward because there are so many things about him you’re NOT grateful for.
I get that. I’ve been there. It wasn’t easy for me to decide to be grateful to my husband, who wasn’t just a local Mexican restaurant with a sticky booth and slow service.
But when I did finally choose my gratitude, I was amazed to see the magic that choice created. And now I have so much to be grateful for!
Including feeling proud and secure that my once hopeless-seeming marriage will last. Forever.
And if I can have that, then why not you too? It all starts with deciding to put on your grateful perspectacles.