Marriage is a consensual union where two people love and commit to each other for life. While tying the knot is done out of love, a couple truly does not understand the meaning of the word until they have weathered life’s storms together. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, but setting ground rules can prevent misunderstandings down the road.
Some find that once they are married, they feel more like roommates rather than spouses. The daily grind can get to everyone, and the responsibility that comes with such a commitment can be overwhelming. Ground rules are essential, and they should be established before you walk down the aisle.
Ground Rules for a Successful Marriage
If you want a successful partnership and a happy life, then you need to establish some ground rules early on. You may think that it sounds silly to put requirements on a relationship that has a foundation of love. But nothing can be nastier than a married couple throwing verbal punches during an argument. Here are some ground rules that can help you ensure your union is a long and blissful one.
Also, know that while you agree to these ground rules, they can be flexible–when both parties agree. For example, your feelings about starting a family might change one day. As long as both of you agree to amend these decisions–and play by the new ruling–you’ll do just fine!
1. Don’t Go to Bed Angry
There’s an old saying that states that you should never let the sun go down on your wrath. This is so important because the longer you allow frustrations to boil, the more apt it is to drive a wedge between the two of you.
Most arguments start over silly things, and they should be resolved before you go to bed. You will lie there all night and stew about what happened. As you replay the events in your mind, you will build the situation up to be bigger than it is, and it can easily cause you to resent your spouse.
If possible, don’t go to bed before at least committing to sort things out in the morning and to apologize for any wrongdoing.
2. Vow to Never Allow Family to Interfere
One of the most significant problems in marriages is the in-laws. In many cases, they act like outlaws when it comes to their loved ones. It’s essential to establish firm boundaries regarding the relatives early on.
Never allow your parents or siblings to speak ill of your partner. Additionally, you must ensure that they don’t stick their nose into your business. Your union must be strong, and you cannot let your relatives ruin your successful partnership.
In-laws can quickly destroy your relationship with meddling, especially when you have children. So it’s best that you set firm boundaries with them on what behaviors you expect and what you won’t tolerate.
3. Decide the Financial Stuff
There was a joint checking account in the olden days, and one person handled all the bills. Today’s couples are a bit more diverse in how finances are done. Do you tend to be old fashioned, or do you want to keep money separate?
It’s important to discuss these issues upfront. It can get very messy if two people are trying to pay bills and dipping into the proverbial cookie jar. Finances are one of the problems that can ruin a marriage quicker than anything else, so establish early on how things are done. Decide on a plan that is acceptable for both of you.
Another thing to consider is that neither party should make a significant purchase without talking to one another. Set a dollar limit that you shouldn’t go over without discussing it. The same should be said about opening credit and going in debt.
4. Determine if You Want Children
Another issue that is common among couples is the desire to be a parent. One may want to be a mom or dad while the other one isn’t interested in offspring. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you are on; you need to voice your desires to your partner.
Don’t skip over the issue because you are afraid to tell your partner how you feel. It could cause a significant rift later.
5. Don’t Bring up the Past
Everyone has a past, and some histories are sketchier than others. When you create a union, you cannot consistently throw your partners past in their face. If your spouse was once addicted to drugs but pulled themselves out of that lifestyle, then they shouldn’t have to live with it being brought up constantly.
You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. Leave what’s behind you alone as it’s not a life sentence.
6. Always Be Honest
Dishonesty can be a quick way to head to divorce court. It’s easy to tell a little white lie now and again, but it can get you in real trouble. Trust your partner enough, to be honest. Make a pact that no matter how upset it might make the other person that you don’t lie to each other.
7. Vow to Keep the Doors of Communication Open
It’s hard to communicate once you’re not dating, and you’re living together. Make one of your ground rules that you keep an open line of communication with each other. Even though life is busy, you should at least have one night a week reserved for date night.
If it helps, keep a list of all the things you want to discuss during that time. Take time for each other, no matter how busy you are in life. Money and prosperity can only get you so far, but if you want true happiness, you will invest in your marriage.
8. Divorce is Not an Option
There may come the point and time in your life when you want to call it quits. Perhaps, you’ve grown apart, or you have had an affair. Life never goes as you plan. Marriages that last more than five years are the anomaly these days.
How do these people that stay married for 40-50 years do it? The key is they don’t quit, no matter how hard they want too. They keep going because they took vows to the other person to have and to hold, through sickness and in health.
While not every union withstands the test of time, don’t be so eager to give up. Make up in your mind that you’re not going to quit, but instead plan to honor your commitment.
Negativity can destroy a bond. For every bit of constructive criticism that you give out, you should follow that with four things of praise. If you’re always telling your spouse all the things they do wrong, you will destroy their morale, and they will avoid you.
Even when you’re amid a heated argument, and you feel like calling names, don’t resort to childish games. Be a grown-up and civilly talk about things. Make a pact and set ground rules that you won’t call names or hit each other no matter what the situation.
10. Make Sure to Keep Personal Things Personal
One of the most significant ground rules in a marriage is learning to keep private things private. If your spouse calls their family or friends and tells them all your personal stuff, it can destroy your union. Make sure these rules extend to finances, romance, children, or any information you don’t want to be shared.
Establish rules about what things should never be shared beyond your union, and make sure you both keep these things out of the public.
11. Don’t Argue in Front of Children or Others
There are very few couples that agree on everything. However, take your arguments to a private area and don’t fight in front of children, relatives, or the public. When you disagree, no matter how trivial, go somewhere that you can discuss it calmly, and don’t get everyone else involved.
12. Make Your Relationship a Priority
Marriage takes work, and it’s not easy. Your union must be a priority every day. Your spouse, their needs, and desires, should always come before your own. When your commitment to your job is complete, your spouse and children get the next priority in your day.
If you want to hang with friends or relatives and do other things, they should be after your relationship needs are met.
There’s no rule book when it comes to marriage; however, by establishing ground rules that cover the basics and significant issues, you can take care of many problems before they happen. Love and cherish one another no matter what life throws your way.
There are going to be hundreds of times that you want to throw in the towel and file for divorce. However, there’s something special about those who stick together no matter what comes their way. In sickness and in health are significant vows to make to a person.
Take advice from older couples that have been married for decades. They can give you the keys to a successful marriage. Don’t take advice or seek wisdom from someone who has been divorced a couple of times. You want to make your union last, so you want all the help you can get.