While Hubs was in the military, we attended many Chapel sponsored marriage retreats, and I will never forget what one Chaplain shared in class. It went something like this, “For all the service members, I want you to really think about this. I sure hope that next promotion you are up for is a good one. And I mean really good. Like twice what you are earning now. Because if you put your marriage and family on the back burner and sacrifice those relationship to get that next rank, well, the Army will give them 50% of your pension when they leave you. You better count the cost Solider!” I think I almost heard a few 40 year old men crap their pants.
Instead, what if we put some strong roots in the place we want to be planted? Become even more invested in the relationships that matter the most. My No. 1 suggestion for protecting your net worth? Don’t get divorced. And marry well in the first place.
Because divorce has such huge financial implications, a good marriage is worth the time and money. Also, when you finally reach that money goal you have your heart set on, whether early retirement, traveling, or just more freedom, wouldn’t it be nice to have your best friend there to enjoy it with you? So after you marry well, here are two things we practice in our efforts to grow old together.
- Enjoy each other. Every other area of your marriage will come easier if you take the time to enjoy each other. Meet up for coffee or lunch during a work break. Pack a picnic if need be. Call each other. Go for walks after dinner. Have uninterrupted conversations. Travel together. Have a vacation day. Enjoy hobbies together. Have sex. Actually that one should be close to the top! But follow a woman’s logic here, first coffee, picnics, conversations, adventure; then sex. Have fun together. Laugh. Rest together. Share goals and passions.
- Recognize repetitive problems and patiently work on them. There will come a moment when you realize you are having the same argument, yet again. And again. And again. Take note here my dear. These will sink your ship. You generally need to look about two layers deeper than what the argument is about. These are the ones that won’t be easy to fix, because they often have something to do with who we are. People change about as fast as the molasses flows in January. But work on it. Commit to honestly work on it. It will make you a better spouse, better friend, better person if you work on it. Whatever your “it” is. Then give it time. Hard work respects hard work, and you will find more grace when you make honest effort.
I am horrible at apologies. Now I’m smart enough to be embarrassed by my lack of skill in this area. 14 years into our marriage and I am still a work in progress. But I work at it, and I am honest about it; with myself and the Hubs. The Hubs will give me a sweet, weak smile at my sad attempts because he knows it nearly killed me to muster out that pathetic apology. He knows I tried, and I always will.
If you feel worn down by your relationship rather than built up by it. Start with number 1. Enjoy each other first. It’s worth the time, and worth the money. I would argue it might be the very best investment you make. What do you all think? How much of your budget goes to making time to stay married?
Side note: I hate that this is the reality of the world we live in, but these suggestions are for healthy people in healthy relationships. Abuse is not to be tolerated. Addiction won’t be cured with an after dinner walk. Get the help you need and stay safe friends.