Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Family Share. It has been reprinted here with permission.
As we get caught up in day-to-day living, it's easy to forget the basic behaviors that can mean the difference between a successful marriage and a floundering one. Every marriage is as unique as the people living it. But there are some universal commandments that can make every marriage better.
Whether you're a newlywed or a veteran spouse, here are 10 marriage commandments that will help you stay in love, deepen your connection, and bring peace to your household.
- Thou shalt show respect. Every individual deserves respect. In a marriage, it is never appropriate to demean your spouse, and physical violence is never ever acceptable in any relationship. If your marriage is disintegrating into squabbling and fighting, remember that sometimes it's better to be happy than to be right.
- Thou shalt be affectionate. The quickest way to pep up a marriage is to throw in a little love. Just being in close physical proximity to your spouse can take your relationship from meh to marvelous. Hold hands, kiss your spouse goodbye and hold on a little longer when you hug.
- Thou shalt communicate. Your spouse has a lot of wonderful qualities, but he or she has never been and will never be a mind reader. Chances are, your spouse wants to give you the world, but you'll have to tell him or her what you need. Own your feelings and be honest about emotions.
- Thou shalt forgive. Ruth Bell Graham famously said, "A good marriage is the union between two good forgivers." We all make mistakes. Yet sometimes those mistakes hurt the person we love the most — our spouse. Be generous and forgiving when your spouse makes a mistake and your spouse will be more quick to forgive your indiscretions.
- Thou shalt be kind. We have a mantra in our house: kind words, soft answers. Think back to how you spoke to your spouse when you were still dating and aim to keep that kind communication throughout your entire marriage.
- Thou shalt be appreciative. Make a conscious choice to let go of little annoyances and devote more mental energy to thinking about all the things you love about your spouse. Your spouse does a lot for you; let them know that you are appreciative.
- Thou shalt be loyal. Adultery is the quickest way to kill a marriage. Protect your marriage by avoiding the slippery slope towards infidelity. In our world of constant contact through cell phones and social media, keep all your interactions innocent. If you're not sure if your behavior is appropriate imagine how you would feel if your spouse was engaging in the same behavior.
- Thou shalt find balance. Cultivate friendships and hobbies that complement but are not dependent upon your marriage. At the same time, spend quality time with your spouse every day. You'll be a better spouse if you are a well-rounded person.
- Thou shalt be honest. It's never OK to lie to your spouse, even if the lie seems inconsequential at the time. No good ever came from lying.
- Thou shalt make decisions together. Avoid major marital drama by coming up with a game plan for life as a couple. All major decisions, including jobs, homes, children, and how to spend money, need to be agreed upon by both parties. In an equal marriage, both spouses should feel that their opinion is valuable and carries weight.
Marriage is not a one-time commitment but rather a daily choice to love your spouse the best you can. Just as the original 10 commandments teach us morality, developing a set of commandments for your marriage allows you to love your spouse more fully. Sit down with your spouse and take some time to discuss the values you honor in your marriage. Agreeing on your own set of marriage commandments will keep you on the path to a lasting and fulfilling marriage.