A Good Home

The Ten Commandments: Marriage

And now for a completely different kind of blog post!

Maybe it’s COVID, maybe it’s just the time we live in, but several of my acquaintances have ended their marriages recently. It makes me appreciate my own marriage even more.

It also got me thinking about the marriage relationship – traditional or otherwise.

Marriage can be a crucible. What other relationship calls for us to share the same bedroom, bank accounts, property and our very lives “till death do us part”?

Along the way, we can learn lessons about nurturing an important relationship. Here are my top ten. Feel welcome to add!

1: Empathize: Love is a great foundation, but respect and understanding of the other person can help you go the distance. Try to place yourself in your partner’s shoes when things get tough.

2: You don’t have to win every argument. Sometimes, it’s more important to listen and say “I hear you” while giving yourself time to think about the other person’s point/anger. If you feel yourself getting furious, it may be time to step away. Leave the room.

3: You should be honest about everything – except whether s/he’s looking too fat!

4: Appreciate the other person’s strengths while graciously shoring up his/her weaknesses. Never humiliate your partner over his weaknesses. We do not come to a marriage fully formed – and no-one is perfect.

5: Affection and praise should outweigh criticism. You may sometimes have to remind yourself of all the things you loved about her in the first place, and the good things your partner has done. Three of my acquaintances who recently separated/divorced said their spouses criticised a lot and gave little affection. “There was no love”, said one. Another said: “It became a toxic relationship.”

6: Marriage is a cross-cultural endeavour. Understand that you are marrying a partner, but he has a family with its own culture – that intangible thing that goes far beyond visible traditions like the food they cook. What lies below the waterline includes accepted gender roles, the family’s history, the birth-rank of each child, the roles each person performs in that family and how valued each person feels.

7: You may have to find a way to show respect to your spouse’s family members even if he’s told you all the ways in which they hurt him earlier in life. This is a tough one. You don’t have to love them, but if he’s forgiven them, or found a way to work around those hurts, you can’t be the one left holding a grudge.

8: Don’t be afraid to get counselling on some child-raising tools and shared discussion of differences. Children are a blessing, yes. Know that parenting also puts untold pressure on a young marriage. This is where the different styles of child-raising come in. Each spouse brings different ideas about how to raise children – often built on what they hated or loved (or both) about their own upbringing. Is she a more authoritarian parent? Do you take a more developmental approach?

9: Financial ignorance/differing attitudes can strain a relationship. Many young couples in North America dream of owning that first house, for example, but aren’t prepared for it. But with a house come a mortgage, taxes, necessary repairs and updates, utility bills, etc. etc. and it’s always more than you planned. (Regarding repairs: my daughters both got and used their toolboxes when they got their first homes – something I admire, since I always left repairs to my husband!)

10: Finally, remember to laugh. Laugh about something. A bit of humour can change a mood or turn away wrath – bringing the element of surprise to an argument, reminding both parties that no matter how intensely you may argue, you still like and enjoy each other.

And yes – after decades of marriage, I still sometimes need to remind myself of some of these. Something to do with being fallible, different, and human. To close, I’ll quote my blogger friend Michel Fauquet, who says marriage “is a constant act of faith and love until the end of life here”.

What would you add to this list?

46 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments: Marriage”

  1. We agreed when we married that I would make the big decisions and Mrs L the little ones. Fortunately, in 37 years we’ve yet to confront any big decisions… Geoff. PS thanks for the follow Cynthia

      1. We are very democratic. If there’s something we need, Mrs Le Pard whittles the options down to three and I have three goes to get it right. Foolproof!

      1. Give it a few days then sell the idea to one of the card companies. As far as marital (martial) advice goes, that would be a gem.
        Thanks Cynthia, a series of up’s and downs but at least no hospital this year so far.
        Massive Hugs

  2. I agree with Judy, time apart is vital! and love your ten. Also glad to see you blogging again! Especially the love his family despite their trespasses, this has been a difficult one for me, and the fat exception is priceless. You should write another book!

    1. Ah, Amy – I have missed you and my other favourite bloggers. Taking care of a toddler who moves fast is not for the limp of leg. But I have loved my time with that sweet little scamp so much. Hope you’re doing well.

  3. These are all wonderful points, Cynthia. And it’s great to hear from you. I think that couples who each have their own children from previous marriages might need a small set of their own commandments.

  4. Great list Cynthia. You came into my mind unconsciously the other night, I dreamt that we moved to Canada and I was working in a grass roots community activist organisation along with you and Hamlin 🙂

  5. This is a great list, Cynthia. I would add, though, that marriage requires both partners to agree. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen and it’s wise to know when a partner can’t go the distance before it’s too late.

  6. It’s a great list Cynthia. And when you mentioned knowing a few getting divorced, I can’t help but wonder how many marriages have been tested during close quarters in Covid. 🙂

  7. Wonderful tips for a healthy marriage, dear Cynthia. I brought my own tool box into the marriage but have only used it when my husband isn’t home since he’s a gifted handyman, whereas I’m the queen of Mickey-Mousing things that he later needs to straighten out. It’s one of the thing we laugh together over. Humor helps. Always.
    I have no tips to add except that I adore two marriage books: Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs and Spouse in the House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

  8. Great advice, Cynthia! But I’m sorry to hear about the ending of marriages; Covid has caused more than just loss of life. 😦 But I especially like your last tip. Laughter can make such a difference!

  9. What a great list. While I don’t have an addition, what you’ve written makes me think that today, it seems more important than even to not rush into things and to really take the time to see what life with this other person would be like, both in the short and long run. Just being realistic about how you’d be together with all you each bring to the table …
    #2 reminded me of an adage – “Would you rather be happy or right?” 🙂

  10. Great list, Cynthia. I’ve been married 27 years and appreciate my spouse more and more as we grow older together.
    I think it’s important to try our best to think before we speak and to always be kind and respect one another. Those things may have already been mentioned but it’s early and my brain is still partially asleep. 😊

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