I was organizing downstairs and I came across one of my notebooks from college where I had written some of the “gems” and things that I learned from my marriage and parenting classes. Here’s the best of them all summed up for you:
15 Great Marriage Principles to Always Remember
*Don’t “overfeed” your children and “starve” your marriage. Make sure your children know that your first loyalty is to your spouse. Always back each other up in front of your children. If you don’t agree with a rule that is enforced with the children, talk about it privately rather than undermine each other. My husband and I started this fun idea that we recently heard: set a time that is just for you two. For us it is 8:30 after Kinley is in bed. This is a time to sit, snack, whatever…but without distractions. This is a time to just talk and hear about each other’s day.
At home with the kids? Instantly access any of these printable activity bundles to keep them learning!
*This goes along with the first, but continue dating after you are married. Take time away just the two of you each week. It doesn’t have to cost money, but plan for it and make sure it always happens! Here and here are some blog posts on some fun date nights to have at home.
*We have this mistaken idea that the best way to “help” someone improve is to criticize them. The opposite is true. We are motivated by praise. When we were first married, I remember I was having a bad day and I proceeded to say, “I’m sorry for complaining…” and my husband responded with the words, “complain? Yeah right. I’ve never heard you complain about anything.” He was sincere in his compliment and it motivated me to want to stay that way; whereas, if the statement had been, “why can’t you stop complaining?” there would have been little motivation present. That’s how we are as humans. We want to continually do what makes others happy.
*distinguishing between preferences and principles takes humility. Just because you like something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.
*Pray for your spouse. Not only is it special for your spouse to hear you pray about them, it helps you remember all the reasons why you love him/her. In your personal prayers, ask, “what can I do to make my spouse’s life less frustrating?”
*Communication is more an attitude than a skill. Too many people say things like “My husband comes from a family that doesn’t know how to communicate” and continue to blame the problems on him. Good communication more often comes from two people ready and willing to find a solution than from two people with a communications degree.
*Rather than feeling shame for our weaknesses, we can rejoice as they lead us to true humility and greater dependence on God. Rather than try to defend yourself, delight in the opportunity to learn and become a better person. There should be no shame in recognizing an area in our life that we can improve on.
*Always say “I Love YOU.” My grandma once shared with me a period of time when she had marriage difficulties and thought about divorce. The feeling came to her, “Start saying ‘I Love You’ EVERYDAY ‘ (even if you don’t want to) before you lose the ability.” She told me how grateful she was that she listened, because they grew beyond their difficulties and she was so glad she never lost the habit of being able to say “I Love You.”
*Do something EVERY DAY to express genuine affection and appreciation. Appreciation is the gas that keeps marriages going. Let your spouse know how much you love and appreciate them often. Don’t let what’s missing discolor everything
*Love your Husband and you will love yourself! (Ephesians 5:28)
* Make it a goal to never attack or call names. Be hard on the problem and easy on the person.
*Remember that crisis is composed of two symbols: one representing danger, and the other opportunity. Trials and challenges can either harm or help marriages, depending on how you react to them. Treat each challenge as an opportunity to grow closer to one another.
*Remember that giving up is not the same as compromising
*Agree to disagree!
* Instead of nagging about things you want your spouse to be or do, try becoming it yourself.
*Focus on WHAT is right, now WHO is right.
Now it’s time to hear from you! What would you say is your “best” marriage advice? What skills/principles have most helped you?
Speaking of marriage, this girl is hilarious! How many of you had to work extra hard to convince your spouse to marry you?
I also had this quote written down in my college notebook about being a super mom and decided to make it into subway art and put it in my room since I love it so much. The original quote is from a talk by Ezra Taft Benson and it says:
“she will have the countenance of Christ for her beauty, the peace of Christ to support her emotionally, the Savior’s example as a means to solve her problems and to strengthen her, and the love of Christ as the source of love for herself, her family, and those about her.”
Now onto some of the “gems” that I took from my parenting classes:
*When you can, use parent-child activities as a reward for your children rather than food/toys
* Write about your child in a journal during your pregnancy with them and give it as a gift when they are older
*Find alternatives to yelling (like humor) if you want your children to learn. When you yell at your children they have no time to self reflect because they are exerting all of their energy protecting themselves or being mad at you. As you feel the anger bubbling, rather than yell use that energy to excitedly say something like, “I’m so excited for you! You must be wanting an opportunity to learn how to be nice to your sister!” Or an opportunity to learn hard work, or respect, or whatever brought on the behavior.
*SPECIFICALLY praise your children multiple times a day! (“You were so creative to come up with that idea!” Rather than “You are awesome!”). Also praise them in front of other people, especially if they think you don’t know they’re listening.
* Attack the problem, not the child. Always make sure they know they are loved.
* Have “brag time” with your kids. The rule: they have to brag about each other. This gives siblings a chance to brag about each other and uplift each other
* Ask your kids these two questions before they go to bed:
1. What was your happiest thing today?
2. What did you do for God today?
* Set an alarm for their curfew. This keeps you from staying up and losing sleep. If they make it home on time, they sneak in and turn off the alarm, if they don’t…the alarm goes off and you know to wait up for your child.
*If kid’s are having a hard time falling asleep, pull out the “magic pillow” (has a special pillowcase) that “magically” puts kids to sleep. If you have kids that are scared of monsters, have a spray bottle with water labeled “monster spray.” Spray the room before they go to sleep.
*Use humor to discipline your children! “If you’re going to argue you have to do it laying on your back,” or “If you’re going to argue you have to sing your argument (opera) style outside!”
*Don’t shield your kids from parental arguments. It’s good for children to see their parents disagree so that they know that disagreements are normal, just make sure to resolve arguments in a healthy way so that they learn how to resolve conflicts. One family had a “push up kisses” rule. If the kids saw their parents arguing, they could yell “push up kisses!” and the mom had to get on the floor and dad had to do push ups and kiss mom every time he goes down for a push up (allow humor in resolving conflicts).
*Kids that keep getting out of bed: As kids are going to bed give them certain privileges like a night-light or lamp, the door ajar, and music or a book on tape. Each time they get out of bed you say, “Sure! you can get up and get a drink…which are you going to give up first? The lamp, the story, or the open door?” Or another family that I know just has each kid keep a water bottle by their bed.
*Kids that refuse to wear their seatbelts: Teach, don’t control. Slow down to less than 15 MPH and BRAKE! Teach them that it’s a matter of safety so they don’t get hurt.
Disclaimer: Please, please, please be smart if you do this and do not harm your children in the process. A professor gave this idea to me, my kids are not old to have actually tried this myself, therefore it is not my personal recommendation.
*Kids that are consistently unfair to each other: Next time they get in trouble, let them choose each other’s consequences. If they are unfair and choose something very difficult for each other, say: “congratulations! You did such a good job, you just picked your own consequence!” In the example given, the brother suggested that his sister should be grounded for a week and the sister decided to choose something equally painful for her brother. As a result, they both ended up with the consequence they intended for each other.
*Have a “blessings” jar. It could be for misbehaving, whining, hitting, etc. When the behavior shows up, have them pick a paper out of the blessing jar. On each paper is a task listed that they get to do to “bless” mom (could be dusting, or other tasks).
*Let your children decide natural consequences. Sometimes kids know better than you do what would help them learn a certain principle. One family I knew gave their children the chance to come up with a natural consequence if they misbehaved. You could say something like “I have a consequence in mind…but what do you think would be fair?” Make sure they know that they automatically get yours if they don’t come up with a good enough one the first time. This usually turns in the parent’s favor.
*Fighting in the Car. Rather than yelling or repeating 5 million times “if you don’t stop I am going to pull this car over!” try telling them ahead of time what the consequence is going to be. “If you don’t get along I will pull over and knit until you stop.” When they fight, don’t say anything, just pull over and start knitting. It won’t last long.
OR…I had a friend do this but it’s not something I would personally have the heart to do. Her kids always fought in the car and never believed her when she said she would turn the car around and go home. So one time she told the whole family they were going to Disneyland, but that there was to be no fighting or she would turn the car around and they would go home (She of course was not planning on actually going there because she knew a fight would start within five minutes). Sure enough, the fight started and she turned around and took them home. She said there were a lot of tears that day, but they believed her from that moment on.
What works best in your family?