I do! Now What Do I Do?

Marriage can bring many changes to which you and your partner will have to adjust, especially in the first year. Some of these changes are eagerly anticipated; others are surprises that may cause unhappiness or even fear. In at least one aspect, marriage is like football. In a close game, the winning team is usually the one that made the most significant adjustments in strategy along the way. That is what effective coaches do at halftime, they give their players the key adjustments that will gain them the advantage in the final quarters.

A winning marriage requires the same mind-set. A husband and wife need to recognize that surprises requiring proactive adjustments await them in their relationship. For me personally, with the help of Godly mentors and husbands, I have adjusted in all areas my marriage, especially when it comes to communication with my spouse.  One of my mentors shared with me 7 things that you should not do in a marriage. Consider the following points in your efforts to develop a satisfying relationship:

1. Do Not Criticize 

Criticism makes your spouse feel like they are not good enough. No matter what the situation is, criticism will build distance instead of togetherness. Instead of criticizing say something positive. Anytime you get the urge to criticize remember the positives and articulate that instead.

2. Do Not Complain

Complaining is negative and it gives the impression that you are a negative person. Who wants to be around a negative person? Instead of complaining, remember the positives about the situation or person and accentuate the positives. Never complain! Remember “Blessed is the man that walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful.” Psalms 1:1.

3. Do Not Argue

All couples have disagreements, but it is the way couples go about solving their differences that determines if their relationship will go the distance. Instead of attacking the other person’s character, happy couples color inside the lines and express their own feelings,” psychotherapist Vikki Stark, director of the Sedona Counseling Center of Montreal, told The Huffington Post.  “It’s fine to say, ‘I’m furious with you right now!’ It’s not fine to say, ‘You’re a sorry excuse for a human being.’

4. Do Not Interrogate

Don’t ask any question the other person does not want to answer. Instead ask questions that the person wants to answer. Ask about things specific to each person’s like. For example, I like sports and I perk up when someone comes to me and asks me a basketball or football-related question.

5. Do Not Talk About Your Marriage

When you discuss your marital issues with close friends and family, they hear only your side of the story, which by definition, is incomplete and skewed. But this does not stop your loved ones from diagnosing your spouse as the problem. Their loyalty to you blinds them from seeing or understanding the context in which the marital problems have developed over time. They fail to recognize how maybe, just maybe, your actions may have triggered your spouse to behave in undesirable ways. That’s because YOU might be unaware of your own contribution to your relationship struggles as well.

6. Do Not Explain

Explaining is for NEEDY PEOPLE! It is annoying and has no place in my habits. Plus, when you feel the need to explain your partner, 9 times out of 10 your partner does not believe you are being 100 percent truthful.

7. Do Not Nag

Do not ask a question more than twice. For example, if you ask, “Did you pay the phone bill?” on Monday and the answer is no. Then you ask on Tuesday, “Did you pay the phone bill?” and the answer is no … Don’t ask again! Asking more than twice becomes a control issue.

Although many adjustments must be made, the investment in your marriage relationship makes it worthwhile and can even pay off better than expected. Any worthwhile commitment requires continuous maintenance. You cannot assume a good marriage relationship will develop by itself. A new marriage is much like a newly planted garden. It has great potential for the future if it is well cared for. Just as a garden grows, so can a marriage relationship. It can start with excitement, happiness, joy, and anticipation. With time, marriage can bring satisfaction, peace, comfort, contentment, and pride. The rewards of a healthy marital relationship benefit those who give it proper attention. To win the game, we must make the proper adjustments.

By Walter Mendenhall

Walter completed his initial Urban weekend for men in 2013 and is currently enrolled in our Two-Year Transformational program. Having accomplished his lifelong dream of making it to the National Football League (NFL), Walter’s desire for mentoring and teaching young people prompted him to walk away from football to focus on pursuing his passion for teaching the next generation of leaders. He is currently a professor at Northeastern Illinois University (Leadership Development) and South Suburban College (Sociology), and a successful motivational speaker and mentor.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Walter Mendenhall