Marriage Advice: Let’s Get Real

Marriage takes work, as we all know (perhaps too well), but what kind of work are we putting in, and what kind of results are we expecting?

While every relationship has a different dynamic, and no two people are exactly alike, there are a few basic principles we can hold to – one is that making a relationship successful takes time and effort, another is that we have to be realistic in our expectations of our partner (and ourselves).

These two principles, in fact, go hand in hand perfectly. On one hand, we can’t expect our spouse to be perfect – they are real people after all, not a character from a fairy tale. On the other hand though, we CAN work together to be “perfect” for each other.

We CAN work together to be “perfect” for each other.

Putting in work for your marriage is multifaceted. In part, it means doing things around the house, helping out with financial obligations, getting the kids to school, and all the “maintenance” that comes with a busy, adult life. It also means, though, reminding your partner that you love them, and why. It means making an effort to spend quality time together, going out of your way to do something nice for your spouse, volunteering to take care of something so they don’t have to. When you’re willing to do little things on a regular basis to make your spouse’s life easier, while offering support, love, and communication, you’re on the road to being the “perfect” spouse. Ideally, you will both be doing this, making each other’s lives easier by default.

Now, when it comes to expectations, you can’t take this kind of stuff for granted. In fact, you should be equally appreciative each time your husband or wife goes out of their way to be kind to you. It comes with the territory: you receive their kindness with gratitude, and vice versa. This kind of behavior, though it should be the norm, should never be demanded, and should ALWAYS be practiced by both members of a relationship.

It boils down to little things, small ways that you show your partner you care, and similarly, finding ways to honestly appreciate the small things that they do for you.

Marriage advice: Do you feel like you’re putting in all the effort? That your spouse doesn’t notice you or appreciate what you do? For expert advice on getting your partner checked back in to the relationship, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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5 comments

Confused 10 years ago

I have been married for over 10yrs with children and have found out that my wife was having a affair on me. This is the most painful hurt I have ever felt because I have been faithfull and have not ever wanted anyone else. I will not blame everything on her maybe I was not the most emotional husband and I took things for granted I dont know but she never came to me for help or I never knew she felt this way. Our marriage just started crumbling with the fights and arguments the cold shoulders etc.. I do not know all the details about the affair just that it did get physical a couple of times. I am having a hard time understanding why she just gave up on me without even giving me a chance to change or help her. I love this women and would like to think that I would have understood how she felt but she never gave me the chance. Its like she just wanted me to read her mind but since I couldnt she just went elsewhere for her needs to get met. We are together working through this and she has broke all contact with the other person as far as I know. Her attitude and personality has been so pleasant and she acts a lot like she used to but I still get worried when she leaves to go do something alone because I think she is meeting him again. I really want to forget the past and just open completely back up to her. I feel like she is just acting sometimes because I almost think this is to good to be true. I dont want to be hurt again. How do I get past this and enjoy what God has blessed me with. I dont want her to get discouraged because I cant get over this as fast as she is.

25yearstrashed 10 years ago

I'm in the same boat, husband left me after 25 years due to arguing, lack of communication. I want to Save it, he's done (not sure of theres anyone else, out not...I think a friend who's anti marriage, 4x divorcee I'd leading him away). He feels like I should simply KNOW how to fix things, make him happy, without telling me. I've done everything I can...lost weight, better attitude, gone to counseling to see my share if the issues & fix them, keep the house spotless, think back to his complaints & work on them. I'm met with skepticism & coldness, told I dont show him I love him. I guess wanting to work it out, never cheating in 25 years, taking care of the family, calling, cleaning, being his best friend & lover isn't enough? I wish you luck in fixing your marriage...because separation with his desire to divorce is truely CRUSHING.

Very Sad 10 years ago

I have been married 21 years - husband was having an affair for at least 5 months in 2010 and he had admitted it (only after I had proof) and of course blamed me for not giving me enough attention. We have 2 children and on one has gone to drugs and the bad side - I too am blamed for that---and all I have done is work and provide financial and support to all the them. Always faithful and working long hours - I am not blaming everything on him, but he said the affair was all over but he would never tell me who it was and lied about where meeting her and also bought her a lot of jewelry and spent a lot of money on her and a lot of money to this day is unaccounted for in cash. He is always very defensive whenever I approach the subject of money or the affair. We did some counselling by never talked outside of the office regarding our situation. I have tried for one and half years now with no different results that the first day he told me. He assured me the affair was over but I always felt something was off. So this weekend I went away and then check his phone and there were a few deleted messages with conversations to her - I could only read one sentences from her "Good morning honey"-- "my luv - I'll hold you to it and more.." so therefore he has been lying the whole time that this was over. He said she was gone and he just goes to work and then stays home - well he does right now but he is always texting her and calling her from work as she works for one of his suppliers from work so they are always in contact. (I found this out from his phone). So I do not wish to divorce so I purchased Dr. Dana's and other programs but he has refused to read or go near any of them. Money is still disappearing, credit cards are not being paid, bank statements are being hidden, RRSP withdrawn and he still says he doesn't want a divorce for the second time. So I don't know what to do. I can not play this dance anymore, I am getting tired and tired of crying all night long. I have now taken on another job to pay some of the heavy debt he as accumulated but he appears he just doesn't care. Do I try to confront again or just go to a lawyer and begin the dreadful experience which I wish not to do. My heart is broken - I just don't know what to do.

Confused 10 years ago

I have learned from counciling that communication is the very key to keeping a marriage together. The times I would not tell my wife I wanted something I would just expect her to know and this lead to frustration and dissapontment and anger. I would not tell her everytime I wanted her to just love me is one reason we grew apart because I thought she would be mad at me for wanting intimate or emotional connection from her. She was also stuffing all her emotions deep down and not letting me know what she wanted either. If no one knows what the other is needing how can anyone grow closer together. We should be able to tell each other without the fear of our spouse getting mad or offended exactly what we think regardless of what it is, this is true love to be able to hear from our spouse what they need and supply that to them no matter what. That is why I married her, to give her what she needs and not do it with the mindset of getting something in return. I am trying to share my feelings now but it is hard for a man, if I want to be intimate I am trying to just let her know so that she knows what I am wanting and not leaving me upset when she is not showing me affection when I need it. Intimacy is hard for us because now after the affair I have problems with going to her with feelings and want her to be the one to initiate stuff more often. This goes both ways I told her if she needs any help with stuff please dont put the burden on just her shoulders but to let me know so I can help this will make he life easier and less stressfull and I would not care to help knowing I am truly loving my wife by giving her a hand in whatever dishes, laundry etc.. I dont have all the answers to my problems but I pray god gives me wisdom and opens my eyes to the path he lays before me. This is such a hard issue for me I am just glad I can talk to people that are going through the same thing.

s 10 years ago

you talk to people but have you talked to her maybe she needs to talk to you too! not through other people this is your relationship no one else! do it before its to late!