We all know friends and family and famous couples we thought would be together forever, yet somehow these marriages were not all they were cracked up to be. They didn’t last. Instead of growing closer over the years, they grew further apart.
Many husbands and wives find themselves living more like roommates than soul mates. And we worry, If it could happen to them…
What can we do to try and ensure that our marriages won’t fall through the cracks? Where do you want your marriage to be five years from now?
Here are three tips for being soul mates forever.
1. Journey Together
The Torah gives us incredible wisdom and teaches us how to keep marriage alive.
Our father Abraham and his wife Sarah faced many pressures and difficulties. They were asked to leave all that was familiar to them, faced infertility, and stood for beliefs that were mocked and even dangerously unacceptable.
It was a most challenging journey. But they journeyed together. They continued to set goals and climb even at the age of 90 and 100.
Partners who share a larger sense of purpose create a legacy together. They sustain one another and live with a passion for life.
Study together. Pursue spiritual aspirations. Live with meaning to your days.
Yes, there will be tough times and challenging moments. There will be nights that you lay awake, heart pounding, wondering, “What will be?” But if you recognize that you are not on this journey alone, the road taken will not be as arduous.
The perfect marriage is not one without difficulties and stress. It is the one where we learn to extend our hands and walk this journey together. You will find that it is impossible to call it quits when you’ve invested your heart and soul in each other and nourished one another with hope and faith.
2. Communicate with Respect
I know couples who almost always communicate through texting. Husbands and wives can go two or three days without having a real conversation. And when they finally have a few minutes together, their thumbs are under the table, blackberrying. They are busy connecting with everyone but the person right in front of them.
Do you know what this communicates to a spouse?
You are not important enough for me to even look at you.
Now how do you think this spouse feels?
After a lecture on self esteem, a young woman came over to speak with me.
“It’s exactly as you describe. My husband comes home from the office and his blackberry is attached to his fingers. Forget about seeing the kids or having dinner together. I’ve given up on that. I’m just fighting for us to have time together. He walks in and tells me that he has 37 emails to answer; no time to talk. I think he’s forgotten what I look like.”
Can a marriage endure when we cannot even take the time to look at each other?
How can I possibly feel loved if my spouse cannot bring him/her self to turn off the blackberry and turn on the relationship?
This goes way beyond today’s relationship experts who urge couples to set up a weekly ‘date night’. This is about the fundamental act of communicating with respect.
An elementary school principal told me that when there is a child who possesses ‘attitude’ and exhibits chutzpah, she calls the parents in for an office conference. Too often the minute the couple sits down she sees the root of the problem. Husband and wife roll their eyes at each other, talk over each other or jab each other with sarcastic remarks.
How can a child speak with respect if he is witness to his parents' disrespect?
Why would he not roll his eyes at authority or ignore his teachers if this is the normal mode of communication at home?
When we speak to our spouses respectfully, we are setting a tone for the whole family to treat each other with consideration. Parents only hurt themselves when children grow up watching their mother’s and father’s communicating through insolent words and rude gestures.
3. Don’t Take Each Other for Granted
How often do I stand next to a husband or wife and hear the following exchange:
“Are you Mrs. S.?”
A nod is given.
“Oh my gosh, your husband is amazing! He’s the nicest guy in the office.”
“You’re Mr. B.? Wow, your wife has the most patience of any woman I know. She always has a smile, no matter what!”
And as the person leaves, I hear the spouse muttering quietly, “She should only see what goes on at home.”
We save our moodiness and discontent for those who mean the most to us. We put on bright faces and smiley voices for friends and co-workers but leave our spouses to bear our malaise. Sarcasm, miserable looks and lack of appreciation eat away at the bedrock of this haven we call home.
The following words may sound simple but they can change your life.
Don’t allow a day to go by without saying “I love you.”
Take a moment and give your spouse a ‘thank you’, a kind word or gesture, an encouraging smile.
You cannot begin to imagine how much this will mean to your relationship.
Little expressions of love will anchor and sustain you through the challenges of a lifetime. You will build an enduring bond that will allow you to live with blessing and joy as you journey this world together with your soul mate.