Last week, I saw a woman slam the car door in her husband’s face and storm off inside the grocery store. Then there was the couple sitting next to me, the man staring at his phone the entire time his wife shared with him her concerns about one of their children. I saw someone post a rant on Facebook about their spouse that ended with, “MEN!”
Relationships are hard, and we’ve probably all done something similar to the examples above. But that doesn’t excuse the cavalier mistakes we sometimes allow for in our romantic relationships. Dating and especially marriage relationships can be tools for showing Christ’s love—to the other person and to those around you. Too often, we take our spouses for granted and forget that good relationships don’t just happen. They take work.
It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media.
Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do:
1. Post Negatively About Each Other on Social Media
Only 12-year-olds post negatively about their boyfriends or girlfriends on social media. It’s a catty way to get attention and vent, when the emotionally healthy response is to talk your grievances over with your spouse when the time is right. Don’t fall into the trap of getting others on your side, on social media or otherwise, because healthy marriages only have one side.
2. Make Their Career a Priority Rather Than Their Relationship
Yes, career is important. But as you are being pulled in every direction imaginable, something will get less attention, less time. Something in your life will have to be sacrificed. Your goal is to make sure that “something” isn’t your relationship. You can always find another job, but you only have one chance to make it work with the love of your life.
3. Have All Their ‘Together-Time’ With Technology
Of course there will be plenty of times that you’re together and using technology, but healthy couples know how to put down their phones and computers and turn off the TV to spend quality time together. Healthy couples don’t check Twitter on dinner dates. My husband and I have a rule that we put our phones upstairs each night after work so our dinner or together-time is not interrupted.
4. Avoid Hard Subjects
Relationships are about intimacy. If you can’t talk about the hard subjects, then your intimacy factor is off. There are seasons of marriage that are easy, and other seasons where you must make difficult decisions together. Nothing should be off-limits between the two of you, and conversations should always be approached with an abundance of grace and kindness.
5. Punish One Another
Punishing one another often comes out in the silent treatment or withholding sex or affection. Healthy couples know when it’s good to take a break from a disagreement, but also know how to come back together and find a resolution.
6. Withhold Forgiveness
Relationships run on forgiveness. You can’t have a healthy relationship without abundant forgiveness. The best relationships forgive quickly and frequently. Living with another person will always bring conflict and hurt feelings; the trick is knowing how to handle it. Forgive, and ask for forgiveness.
7. Say ‘Yes’ to Everything
Healthy couples have good boundaries—with family, with friends and with each other. If I’ve had a long week at work and my husband asks me to rally and go out with friends on Friday, whose fault is it if I get mad at him on the way home because I didn’t want to go in the first place? Mine. Healthy couples know their limits, know how to ask for help, and understand that “no” is a complete sentence.
8. Throw In the Towel
Healthy couples don’t give up when things are hard, even when things are really hard. If your spouse is important to you, you can get through this. Quitting is never an option for healthy couples.
Want to improve your relationship? Try this short assessment, specially designed for Christian couples.
Ruthie Dean is the Director of Communications at Bernard Health and a passionate writer and speaker about relationships. She and her husband, Michael, chronicle their dating mistakes and offer a fresh approach to love, sex & relationships in the age of texting and Twitter in their new book, Real Men DonÕt Text. SheÕs @Ruthie_Dean on Twitter.