“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter the least.”

-Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, considered one of the greatest German literary figures of modern era and statesman who lived in the 18th century.

This includes Marriage. A good marriage does not happen naturally, it requires the effort and commitment from both parties. But what does it mean to prioritise your marriage?

1. Commit to your spouse

A good marriage is one where you remain true to each other even when the going gets tough Your commitment to weathering the storms of life together help in strengthening your bonds as a couple.

Friends and even family may test your commitment to one another and others might criticise or put your spouse down. Get through these bad days together and choose to always defend and support your spouse during tough times.

Choose to support and lift your partner up, especially on days when no one else will. Doing so not only lifts their spirits up, but also leads to a stronger marriage! Show the world you are an unbeatable couple!

2. Put your spouse first, in front of the kids.

When kids arrive, they can throw everything into disarray – your schedule, your plans, your goals. Let them steal your hearts but not your marriage.

Having kids will take up a lot of time and energy (we all know too well).

However, you should take note that growing apart and jeopardizing your marriage will lead to an unhealthy environment for your child to grow up in.

To provide a safe and happy environment for your children to grow up in, you should therefore prioritise your marriage. Of course, that is not to say that you should neglect your children. In fact, this will help to ensure a warm and loving family.

3. Your Marriage Rules

Here’s an exercise: Imagine what you want your marriage to look like in the future. Think about what you should do to get there. For example, does it involve a routine the two of you should do together, perhaps getting into a new habit? Does it involve making some rules about how you conduct yourselves in your relationship?

Make these expectations clear and communicate them with your spouse to make it happen.

Examples of what could go into your list:

  1. Have a bedtime routine/rule, such as never going to bed angry, touch toes before sleeping, etc.
  2. Never say “You never…” to one another
  3. Never complain about your spouse to other family members
  4. Agree to communicate about your spouse to other family members
  5. Agree to spend a weekend alone at least once a month

If you’re not married yet, include these as part of your vows and commit yourself to these actions to get you one step closer to your ideal marriage.

If you’re already married, put these into a list and make a commitment to carry out these vows to your spouse during your next wedding anniversary.

Every marriage is different. Discuss with your partner and create your own rules suited for your relationship.

4. Celebrate Marriage/Life Milestones Together

People love rejoicing to any occasion. During the early years, you experience many milestones to celebrate such as your first kiss, your first dance, your first trip, your first child, your child’s first birthday and so on…

Over the years, these milestones may seem few and far between. However, don’t forget that marriage itself is good news that’s worth celebrating too! Such ‘celebrations’ do not have to be a huge and fancy affair, recognising them together is one way of showing your love and appreciation, expressing the importance of the other in your life.

Perhaps you could mark your 20th anniversary by watching a favourite movie together without the kids, or exchange cards with a personalised message.

Remember that your spouse is your forever person, and will need your love, as much as your kids do.

5. Marriage over your Job

Perhaps you have an important role at work – overseeing 50, 100s and 1000s of people. Maybe you have an important project that will determine your next promotion. Or perhaps you have a new offer that requires you to travel often and takes you away from home.

While work is important to you and is a big part of your own identity, keep in mind that decisions about your work could affect your marriage. Prioritising your marriage does not mean you have to sacrifice your job. What it does mean is that when and marriage commitments conflict, communicate effectively with your spouse and agree on a decision together.

When you are married, it requires a shift in your mind-set. Working towards future goals is no longer about striving for yourself, but striving for you and your spouse. Hence, making major decisions in work should involve both of you.

Choose your marriage every time you face a conflict and discuss your options with your spouse. When the two of you chart a path ahead together, you will find that your marriage only becomes stronger at the end of the road. Just like when you nurture a plant, nurturing your marriage will surely bear fruit.