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SALT LAKE CITY — One of the first disagreements my husband and I had as newlyweds happened while hiking together one afternoon in a nearby canyon. Things began to go downhill rather quickly, and I'm not referring to the grade of the hiking trail.
The argument began when I made a suggestion about where to place grass in our soon-to-be landscaped front yard. We laugh about it now, but at the time my idea seemed preposterous to a husband, who makes a living in the landscape industry. Instead of delicately telling me my idea didn't make much sense, my husband disagreed with me in a … well, less than delicate way.
Thankfully, I learned some valuable lessons that day and in the days that have followed (one of them being to leave landscape design to my husband). I'm no marriage expert, and I may be a newlywed compared to those celebrating golden anniversaries, but I can't deny that 17 years of marriage has taught me something.
- Have a sore tongueHaving a sore tongue means you bite your tongue often, and that is good for a marriage. There are some things that really can be overlooked. I have never heard my very organized and neat husband comment on the state of my side of the closet, and it's rare that I tell him how his ice cream dish magically gets to the kitchen sink almost every morning. Some things are best left unsaid.
- Understand your spouse is NOT a mind-readerUnless you met your spouse at a fortune-telling booth at the local county fair, chances are high they are NOT a mind-reader. So, when your spouse calls to say they are going to be late, don't throw a self-induced pity party because today was the day he was supposed to come bursting through the door with a bouquet of flowers commanding you to get in the car, because he's kidnapping you on an overnight getaway. Perhaps if you'd let him in on that little "expectation," the I'm-going-to-be-late-phone-call would not have been quite so contentious.
- Think before speakingNeed I say more? Some days I think I have the part of my brain missing that helps filter thoughts before they make it out of my mouth. Those are usually the days we have a (often one-sided) regrettable argument. Enough said.
- Raise the praiseEven if your spouse forgot to run your time-sensitive errand, or he fell asleep instead of helping with homework, there is always some good to find. (Even if some days are harder than others to find it!) Who doesn't love praise and gratitude? Send a text, leave a note, write an email or, heaven forbid, say it to their face! The more praise you give, the more you'll get back, almost always guaranteed.
- Make time togetherAt our house, chaos reigns supreme in the evenings. Everyone is hungry and tired, schedules are sometimes overbooked, teenagers want to talk, dripping-wet children can't find a towel and reading books can't be found. Oh, and the two people behind it all haven't said anything of any depth or meaning to each other all day. Sound familiar? Do what it takes to change that. Lock a bedroom door, escape to the front porch, or sit on the couch and send everyone else outside. Make and take time for each other.
Will these ideas guarantee peace and harmony in your marriage from this day forward? Unfortunately, no. But they may help toward having one less argument, or saying one less unkind word.
Who wouldn't want that?
Tiffany Sowby is the mother of five children, ages 5 through 15. She loves the laundry five children generate, but could do without the sticky floors and dirty dishes. She blogs at www.ourmostofthetimehappyfamily.blogspot.com