What comes to mind when you think of good habits? What if you picture a healthy, happy marriage? A highly effective marriage? If you haven’t read Stephen F. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, stop what you’re doing, go to B.A.M., read it cover to cover and come back.
Oh wait, it’s the 21st century. Order your copy from Amazon. Google that gold. It seriously changed the way I live every day life and it’ll do the same for you. The principles are enlightening. The practices achievable. It affects the way you interact with your husband, children, coworkers, and complete strangers. Maybe I’ll write a full review for you sometime.
Just like we as individuals, our marriages can have both good and bad habits. Here are seven good habits of a highly healthy marriage.
1. LEARN CONTROL
Not of him. Covey’s first habit in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to be proactive rather than reactive. Meaning that you are responsible for your emotions, moods, and actions. A healthy marriage is one in which you learn to control your temper, your tone, and your behavior regardless of your spouse. You are only in control of you. So if you can develop the good habit of regularly reigning your tongue, tone, and projected attitude then you carry the characteristics of a good spouse. Sometimes I have to literally bite and hold my tongue! Will you always be consistent? Well, no. But that’s where grace comes into play. Speaking of…
2. GIVE GRACE
I say this quite often – two imperfect people from two different households with two different ways of life decide to live life together forever. There are going to be misunderstandings. There are going to be bad days. There will be days where the tempers are lost, the tone and words get ugly, and the attitude sucks. We’re all human. Offer grace to your husband.
How though? When he’s being a complete jerk this is the last thing you want to do. First, take some deep calming breathes. Second, mentally look for a reason or trigger for the bad mood. It’s a good habit that helps you recognize and accept that you’re not the cause of the conflict. Third, learn to let the little things go. Read the related posts below for more ideas on how to do this:
3. Kiss DAILY
Most marriages get into a daily routine. Get up, get ready, go to work, yada yada yada. Where’d all the romance go? Where’s the intimacy? A healthy, happy marriage holds on to both of these. We tend to kiss with familiarity after a while. Kiss your man daily. Not just a peck on the lips or on the back of the neck in passing. Ryan and Selena Frederick over at Fierce Marriage suggest taking the 15 second challenge. The challenge is to stay physically and mentally engaged in a fifteen second kiss with your spouse. Try it. Comment or contact me and lmk how it goes. Could you stay focused? Did your mind wander?
Unless you’re both working remotely, you’re not together 24/7. Wrap your arms around each other, smile and make eye contact, and kiss your man goodbye. Give him well wishes for a wonderful work day. Slap him on the butt as he turns to walk out the door. This lets him know he’s not just a paycheck. It communicates that you’re going to miss him. It makes the last memory of you before he left for the day a good one. Build the good habit of a good kiss everyday.
Worth mentioning again, couples tend to get in to a daily routine and go through the motions of life. Communication can whittle down to a bare minimum if we’re not careful. Take the time to schedule family meetings or date nights to discuss goals, dreams, theology. This connection and communication is part of what makes your bond to each other stronger than that with any other.
On a lighter note, just have an idea of what your spouse thinks the rest of the day should look like! For goodness sake, simply know what’s on the TDL. Share your Google calendar. Make plans together. Even just try to keep in touch with your man throughout the day. If one of you are in a stricter work environment, then send a text right before he walks into work wishing him a wonderful day. At lunch, send him a sweet message. Here’s a list of 25 you can use:
Another of Covey’s amazing habits that’ve transformed our relationships is “Think win, win”. When on opposite pages or in a disagreement recognize the conflict. Then pull out this tool. What does he want? What do you want? What would be a solution that both of you could live with? Covey calls this a win-win. A friend from church questioned if it wasn’t a lose-lose instead.
But God calls us to love each other like Christ. Christ loved us with a sacrificial love. So love your man with a sacrificial love. I’m not gonna lie. This is really hard for me. I mean, I don’t wanna do what I don’t wanna do. It sucks. What’s something you don’t want to do but your man would appreciate? Go, do it. I’ll wait.
Healthy, happy marriages are a give and take. Make the sacrifice, think win-win (or lose-lose), and be ok with it. Do it for the health of your marriage. We all know someone who is completely self absorbed. They are not well liked. Something is engrained in us to be attracted to someone that serves others. Be a spouse that sacrifices for your husband. Practice this good habit.
Men and women communicate differently. Dr. Emmerson Eggerich calls it pink vs. blue. Picture a man wearing blue hearing aids, holding a blue megaphone. He will speak and hear differently than a woman wearing pink (much more stylish) hearing aids and holding a pink megaphone.
Listen with the intent of understanding. Discipline yourself to listen without formulating a response while they’re still talking. Make sure you understand what they’re saying. If you’re not sure you understand, rephrase what you think they’re saying in your own words and ask if that’s what they mean. You’ll be surprised that your pink hearing aids sometimes completely misinterpret their blue megaphone.
Listening to understand also involves trying to see it from their point of view. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to see things from their perspective.
7. LEARN TO SAY SORRY
You’re gonna screw up. Just accept that fact right now. You’re not going to be 100% right. You will be wrong sometimes. What’s ironic is people get really mad about being wrong. Give a heartfelt apology when you realize you’re wrong. Don’t go to bed mad. Generally wives can practice this good habit with any of the following:
- “I’m sorry I was disrespectful earlier. I was fighting to get my own way without even considering your point of view. I should’ve listened to your perspective.”
- “I was wrong. I’m sorry. I respect your leadership and intelligence and trust your decision.” Psst – then really trust it & follow him!
- “I’m embarrassed about it but I was way off base earlier. I’m really sorry babe.”
- “I love you. I’m sorry. I was frustrated with (______) and I took it out on you.”
Or the more light-hearted:
- “How come you always gotta be right?” (acknowledging that he’s right & you’re wrong)
- “When will I figure out that you always know what you’re talking about?!”
- “You were right and I was wrong. Now you get to sing the “I was right” song.”
YOU CAN DO THIS!
All seven of these habits are achievable. Is marriage hard at times? Hello yes! But developing these healthy habits will result in a happier marriage overall. And that’s something both of you want!! So start now and this week practice controlling your emotions, giving grace to a grumpy husband, intentionally kissing and communicating, loving sacrificially, listening for the purpose of understanding, and saying sorry when applicable. You’ve got this girl!
Speaking of having a healthy, happy marriage…have you taken the “Wife for the Win” marriage challenge yet? It’s five work days, five quick emails with five different aspects of wifing (yep, it’s a verb) to focus on, complete with homework. 😉 Get it now!