A few days ago we had a young man at our home giving us a quote on tree work. He asked my husband how long we had been married and when my husband responded, “17 years,” the man asked us what the secret to a happy marriage is.

I am generally the one asking older couples their advice, so his question reminded me of a book titled, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.”

I have compiled a list and titled it, “The 7 Habits of Successful Marriages.”

Habit 1:

Approach your marriage from the standpoint of win-win. In a society where in order for someone to win, someone has to lose, the concept of win-win can be challenging. An example is this: if a wife wants to have quality time with her husband, but he wants to do yard work, they can come to a win-win agreement that she will help in the yard (making the process faster) and then they can to dinner. Both get to do what they wanted.

Habit 2:

Go on a date without the children. I cannot stress this enough. Dating doesn’t stop when we marry. It can even be a walk alone around the neighborhood.

Habit 3:

Talk to each other. This seems to be the number one issue in marriage. We fail to communicate. In our home, we ask each other daily, “What was the rose of your day?” Followed by, “What was your thorn?” This question generally leads to further discussion.

Habit 4:

Cut the cord. We all know what this means. Some of us cannot get away from our parents long enough to have a deep, meaningful marriage. Oftentimes the spouse with the cord gets his or her conversation fulfillment and quality time fulfillment from a parent. This is disastrous because the other spouse is left out on conversations and feels his or her input doesn’t matter. It’s hurtful and eventually can lead to adultery, divorce and resentment.

Habit 5:

Plan annual vision retreats. In last month’s article, I discussed this in detail. Essentially you and your spouse go away for at least a few days and discuss prepared questions from Jimmy Evans book, “Mountaintop of Marriage.” Vision retreats can help you define strengths, weaknesses, and possible problems that could arise in the future.

Habit 6:

Learn your spouse’s love language and then speak it. In his book, “The 5 Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman identifies and dissects love languages. He has a free assessment online as well. Be diligent in speaking their love language.

Habit 7:

Forgive each other. The offenses will come. There will be painful days. Arguments will happen and we say things we didn’t mean. Other times, we will forget to take the trash out for the eighth time. Even still, there may be terrible financial decisions made and compromises in our marriages. Choose forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice. Forgiving doesn’t say the wrong was OK. It says the wrong will not dictate my choices and our future together.

This list could go on and perhaps in the future I will write an article titled, “7 More Habits of Successful Marriages,” but for now, let’s focus on these seven.

Until next time, be successful!

Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.

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