We have been focused on the subject of marriage for the last couple of weeks, partly because of speeches last week in Phoenix and this week in Ogden and next week in Minneapolis to large groups of married couples seeking to strengthen and fortify their marriages and their families.
It is pretty easy to get most people to agree on the importance of marriage as the “committing glue” that holds families together and on the family as the foundation and basic unit of society, as we wrote about last week. But where marriage gets hard is in the micro — in our own individual homes as we all face the pressures of keeping a relationship strong in the stresses and strains of everyday life.
We got into an energized discussion in Phoenix last week about the five kinds of problems that are most often blamed for divorce: money concerns, sexual issues, parenting differences, career or goal disagreements, and faith or belief conflicts.
As we interacted about the “Big 5,” the consensus was that those are also the five things that have to be communicated about almost constantly in a strong marriage.
Think about that for a moment: The five things that are most commonly blamed for divorce are the very five things that have to be the topics of open, constant communication if a marriage is to be strong.
Consistent, candid conversation about each, the group seemed to be saying, is what will turn them into strengths and elements of unity instead of problems that can lead to separation or divorce.
It’s not that there wasn’t dissent or resistance to that conclusion. One comment was, “Can’t we each have our own finances — why share everything?” Another one was, “Why do we have to talk about sex — can’t we just do it?” And another, “She’s strict with the kids and I’m not — we just agree to disagree.”
But by the end of the evening, most were in accord that these five things, if they go unresolved and undiscussed, can bring down a marriage, and if they are openly and almost constantly talked about can bring the understanding and empathy, if not the agreement, that can keep a marriage strong.
There were some wonderful ideas suggested by the group to facilitate more and better discussion of each of the five:
Try to always go to bed together at the same time to facilitate “pillow talk.”
Go on a weekly date and continue the courtship.
Have a “five-facet review” together once a month where you talk about each of your children and how he or she is doing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Have a weekly “Sunday session” or meeting between just the two of you where you discuss the schedule and goals for the next week. Make it more of a little getaway once a month to plan the month, and take a short trip together once a year to set goals for the year ahead.
Pray together every night.
Adopt the motto: “Unexpressed feelings never die, they just get buried and come forth later in uglier forms.”
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."