I Learned 3 Simple Marriage Rules From a Preschooler

Last weekend, I learned three simple marriage rules from a preschooler when I picked up my four-year-old granddaughter for a much needed date. It was a standard date for us: getting some much-needed essentials from the toy store, catching up on the latest children’s literature at the bookstore, and topping it all off with some elegant dining at the local Chick-fil-A.

Among all the things she talked about (and she had a lot to talk about,) she filled me in on the latest news from her pre-K class. As she was catching me up on all the juicy Pre-K news, she told me her teacher expected everyone in her class to follow three rules:

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How Parenting Can Improve Partnering

In my last post (How Partnering Can Improve Parenting,) we looked at how improving your marriage could improve your parenting. It stressed the importance of making sure your partnering takes precedence over your parenting. (If you’ve not read that post, I encourage you to go back and read it.)

Now, we need to answer how parenting can improve partnering, and the answer is simply this…

 “Your parenting should instruct your partnering.” 

Yes, your partnering should take priority over your parenting, but your parenting can teach you to be a better partner. Here’s what I mean by this. If you listed the things you do for your kids, your list would look something like this…

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How Partnering Can Improve Parenting

We don’t often think of how parenting can improve partnering. Usually, we think of just the opposite…how parenting makes partnering harder. We instantly think of all the demands parenting makes on our time, money, energy, and resources, and how those demands complicate marriage.

It’s true that being a parent can make being a partner more difficult. This is why I always tell spouses, “You’re partnering should  take precedent over your parenting.” I firmly believe this to be true for every marriage…

  • Young spouses as well as senior adults spouses.
  • Spouses who have biological children as well as those who have step children or adopted children.
  • Those who have just one child as well as those who have twelve.

No matter the situation, the principle is the same. You’re partnering should take precedence over your parenting, because:

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3 Questions for an Ailing Marriage

I’ve discovered three questions you can use to diagnose an ailing marriage. I would like to tell you I discovered these questions while completing my graduate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, but the truth is, I discovered these questions while lying in a hospital bed.

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Trick Questions and Expectations in Marriage

Trick questions can be…well…tricky. For instance, how would you answer this question:

“Have you stopped beating your spouse?”

Answering this question is tricky, because if you agree, it sounds like you use to beat your spouse. If you disagree, it sounds like your still beating your spouse.

Watch out for the trick questions. 

When I do premarital counseling, I often ask a couple to complete an inventory where they respond to a variety of statements on a continuum between “strongly agree” and strongly disagree. Some of my favorite statements to which they must respond are statements like:

  • I have never regretted my relationship with my partner.
  • My partner gives me all the love and affection I need.
  • We completely understand each other.
  • My partner has all the qualities I’ve ever wanted in a mate.
  • We are as happy as a couple can be.

A couple preparing to get married will usually agree with these statements, but a couple that’s been married for a while will usually laugh at these statements. The difference is the couple preparing for marriage is in LOVE, where as the couple that’s been married for a while are in LIFE.

It’s all about your expectations. 

There’s always a difference between our expectations and our experience. When we’re preparing for marriage, we have all kinds of optimistic expectations about how marriage should be. Remember those? Sleeping in. Leisurely sharing a cup of coffee together before starting your day. Always having your spouse’s attention and affection. Sharing the same interest in sex. Always having control of the remote. Having the same goals and plans. Spending your spare time together. The list goes on and on.

But after you’ve been married a while, those expectations aren’t always met, and you begin to struggle. So you attempt to get your expectations met. You start off by trying to talk to your spouse and explain why you need them to meet your expectations. If repeated attempts to communicate don’t get you anywhere, then you’re generally left with three options…

  • Manipulate or make demands to get your spouse to meet your expectations. This increases frustration, raises defensiveness, and tends to make marriage worse.
  • Leave your spouse for someone else whom you think will meet those expectation. This will bring an end to what could be a perfectly good marriage…not to mention the fact that no one will ever meet all your expectations.
  • Adjust your expectations to something more realistic. This will help you both relax and have a marriage that will go the distance.

Adjust your expectations.

Adjusting your expectations in marriage will actually teach you some valuable lessons…

  • You don’t have to like everything about your spouse, or your relationship with them, to have a good relationship.
  • You won’t always get the love and affection you think you need, but that doesn’t mean you’re not loved.
  • You don’t have to completely understand one another to completely love and support one another.
  • Your spouse doesn’t have to have all the qualities you want in a mate. (That person doesn’t exist.) But they have enough of those qualities to make it work.
  • The two of you could always be happier, but that doesn’t mean your not happy.

These are critical lessons for a long and loving marriage, but you can only learn these lessons by adjusting your expectations.

Don’t fall for the trick questions in marriage. Marriage is not about the two of you getting every expectation met. It’s about figuring out which of your expectations are realistic and which are not. It’s also about the two of you meeting as many of each other’s expectations as you can, while leaving room for you to be yourselves.

What is one expectation you have for your spouse and your marriage that…if you were honest…is probably not realistic? Which of the five lessons do you most need to learn? What’s one thing you can do to let go of an expectation and be happier?

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

Encourage!

In my last post, Why So Serious, I talked about taking part in a funeral for a lady in our church. She had lived to be ninety-three and was married to the same man for seventy-two years. A mere two weeks after her funeral, we were holding another funeral for her ninety-four year old husband, who died just nine days after her.

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3-Way Love

Before you misinterpret the title of this post, let me explain. This post is not about making love to two other people at the same time. It’s about making love to one person for a very long time. Wait… that didn’t sound right either. Let me start again.

There are 3 ways of displaying love to your spouse….not to be confused with what Dr. Gary Chapman describes as the 5 Love Languages. (All of a sudden, love is starting to sound a lot like math.) Anyway, as I was saying, the three ways of love are:

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A Dry Run At Eternity

Sometimes you read thing something that makes you stop and evaluate your marriage, your faith and your life. This guest post from my friend Connie Plummer did that to me, and I wanted to share it with you.

They are like a man who builds a house. He digs down deep and sets it on solid rock. When a flood comes, the river rushes against the house. But the water can’t shake it. The house is well built. – Luke 6:48

In this life, we practice for the important events.

  • A trial run to the hospital before it is time to have the baby.
  • A ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ graduation walk through.
  • A wedding rehearsal.
  • That song you are going to sing
  • That speech you are going to make.

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3 Major Marriage Decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Sometimes marriage can feel like an endless stream of decisions. Even if you decide not to make a decision…that’s still a decision!

These decisions come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

There are minor decisions like: Where do we go to eat? Who cleans up after the dog? What movie will we watch? Who will take out the trash?

Then there are major decisions like: Is it time to have a baby? Should we change careers and move? What should we do about our wayward teen? How do we care for our aging parents?

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