Pay attention! When you “pay attention” to your spouse you invest in him/her for what he/she means to you and does for you. You are investing in the one person, other than yourself, who most wants you to succeed. Investment in your spouse, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually leads to a better life for both of you.
Manners matter! Use your manners with your spouse. Often we treat co-workers, customers, and even strangers better than we treat our spouses. Remember to use your manners and treat your spouse better than co-workers, customers, or strangers.
April is couple appreciation month and jazz appreciation month. Take your spouse to a local jazz club and enjoy good music while enjoying being with each other.
A REAL date a week builds a REAL marriage.
Hug and kiss your spouse every day. Most of us have heard that a person needs X number of hugs per day. What X is depends on the research you read. They all agree that hugs are good for you.
Here is my recommendation: Hug your spouse at least 10 times per day for at least 10 seconds each. It may seem like a long time to hug but it is a big investment in your marriage. Kiss your spouse at least 10 times per day. Some can be quick, some medium, and there needs to be one or two long kisses each day. Click here for a description of types of hugs and kisses.
Go to church together. Church attendance is correlated with marital satisfaction. Those who attend more often describe themselves as happier than those who do not attend very often.
Be an ACE!
Assume the benefit of the doubt with your spouse. Believe that he/she means well.
Clarify what you hear and what you see. There may very well be good intent in what you hear or what he/she is doing. Your spouse may also be dealing with something that could use a loving response from you.
Explain your expectations. Let your spouse know what you can do to help or what you think and feel about what is going on. Keep it focused on reaching mutual goals. One of those goals, stated or not, is likely “we want to love each other and enjoy being with each other.”
Use the REAL acronym to organize your investment in your marriage.
The “R” is Romantic, which is a “we” mindset. You are in it together. The “E” is Encouraging which is a manner of speaking to each other. Say or do something that will encourage your spouse, from his/her point of view, each day. The “A” is Adaptable which is a way of working together. Sometimes we have to adapt what we are doing to be most effective. Be adaptable. Finally, the “L” is Loving which is a habit of doing for the other. Do something for your spouse each day that he/she will think is nice or helpful.
“In a successful marriage, there is no such thing as one's way. There is only the way of both, only the bumpy, dusty, difficult, but always mutual path!” Phyllis McGinley
Pie is wonderful! It tastes good, smells good while baking, and can bring back wonderful memories. That kind of pie is not what this post is about. This PIE is about personal responsibility, intentionality, and expectations.
Personal responsibility is important for each of us to accept if we want to reach our goals. In marriage it means taking personal responsibility for your actions, your words, your attitude, and everything else about you. Blaming your grumpiness on the boss at work as an excuse for saying mean things to your spouse does not cut it if you are taking personal responsibility. In this case taking personal responsibility means realizing you are grumpy and why, being nice to others because it is the right thing to do, explaining to your spouse what is going on and how he/she can help, and then taking care of yourself in appropriate ways to get over your grumpiness.
Intentionality is about living on purpose. When you are being intentional you have a purpose for what you are doing and you have made a conscious decision about that purpose and those actions. To use the above example being intentional is when you get home and get bombarded with questions you listen carefully because you have already decided that you are going to be nice to everyone at home even though you feel grumpy. Then, after listening, you appropriately explain how you are feeling and what would help you along with what you plan to do to deal with your grumpiness. When you live intentionally you live with plans. You have an overall plan and goals for your life and how you want to be and more detailed plans for the specifics. You can still be spontaneous as long as the spontaneous things you choose fit in your overall plan. Some people call this idea being proactive and it minimizes the times in your life when you are reactive (which often does not go well).
Expectations are the key to everything you do. When your expectations are met life is generally good and when they are not met then life is generally less than good. Make sure your expectations are realistic. If others need to know your expectations then be clear about your expectations and double check with those others to make sure they understand. Many of us who are parents have given very clear expectations to our children only to find out later that they truly did not understand the expectations. Those troubles are on us for not making things clear and checking to make sure they were clear. (See how personal responsibility and intentionality work into this example?) When in doubt, clarify your expectations, or what you believe the expectations of others are, before acting. It will save time in the long run.
Once you get in the habit of living with PIE, your life will get better and you will be well on your way to a REAL Marriage.