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5 Things Smart Couples Don't Do

October 22, 2019 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Practical guidance to improve your marriage.

A good marriage does not just happen. Relationships take work and wisdom. Sometimes the insight is natural; other times maturity brings forth good sense. Here are five things smart couples don’t do.

1. They don’t compare lives with other couples

If you want to kill your relationship, look at other people’s lives. Check out their Facebook page and Instagram. Scrutinize their profile pictures. Compare homes, vacations, cars, and kids. Talk about how ‘he does this’ and ‘she does that’ but ‘you never…’

When we keep our eyes on other people’s blessings we never seem to find our own. Left with a sour taste we strip serenity away. Then we wonder why we are feeling unhappy.

When we keep our eyes on other people’s blessings we never seem to find our own.

The best gift you can give yourself is to stop looking at everyone else’s social media. You never see the tension and stress in the background. I recently watched a couple pose. They looked like they were in bliss. As soon as they finished snapping their photo, their faces hardened and they walked away from each other. Who knows what is real?

Smart couples focus on their God-given gifts. They don’t waste time examining how other people live. It’s not relevant. They are authentic to themselves. They choose their goals, their values, and their destination. They learn to be satisfied and then find joy within themselves. Who cares what others have and do? Let’s focus on us.

2. They don’t cross the Danger Zone

There are some zones in relationships that should not be crossed. Smart couples know when they are entering hazardous territory. They value their bond too much to allow a situation to blow up to the point of causing incredible damage and pain.

Smart couples know which behaviors may put their relationship unto jeopardy. They develop the awareness to realize this is a danger zone. Don’t go there. (Of course, physical and verbal abuse are intolerable).

There will be times that we mess up. But smart couples know how to communicate their feelings respectfully. It’s okay to feel upset but it’s not okay to use foul language on your spouse. Talking about the problem and being solution oriented takes the discussion to a higher level. There’s give and take. Smart couples know how to compromise, how to give in, how to apologize and how to forgive. When there is constant fighting, bickering, or an arctic air, nobody wins. Effective couples seek ways of finding peace together respectfully.

3. They don’t keep score

Intelligent couples keep away from counting how often each does the dishes, carpools, or takes out the garbage. We should both want to contribute to our daily living and responsibilities. When we love someone we do because we want to do; not because someone is keeping score. There are times that one partner is overwhelmed at work or at home. Does that mean we don’t recognize and offer to give an extra hand? Isn’t that what love is?

If there is a sense of carrying too heavy a load, smart couples know how to convey and communicate. It’s fine to say, "I’m feeling as if I’ve been doing a lot and I need your help."

But if I am constantly keeping track and doing what I am doing in this relationship just because of a scorecard, something is wrong. I am filling the car up with gas so that you don’t deal with the aggravation of an empty tank-not because it’s my turn and you filled up last time. I care about you. Desire to do good based on emotions rather than obligation is a love that is alive.

4. They don’t take each other for granted

One of the most difficult equations in marriage is appreciating what we already have. Human nature is such that we always long for that which is out of reach. Once we acquire, we lose the passion.

How do we desire that which we have attained?

Smart couples invest themselves in their relationship. They know that appreciation is the oxygen to lasting love. They do not take each other for granted.

Sadly, some learn this lesson too late. After a loss they realize how fortunate they were, but there is no going back. I’ve spoken to too many husbands and wives who wish they would’ve done more, had more days together, or conveyed more love.

Couples who work on daily gestures of appreciation and affection build strong relationships. They show that they do, indeed, value one another. They come to cherish more, treasure time together and desire grows. A loving text, picking up a favorite snack, even a single rose just ‘because’, can keep the spark alive.

Creating sacred space is a way that wise partners connect. They make sure to set aside time without technology casting a shadow on their conversation. Returning at the end of a workday while on the phone or saying ‘I just need to answer this text/email’ builds walls. So, too, does keeping your phone on at the dinner table. The message that smart couples give each other is: there is nothing and no one more important right now than us.

Smart couples know how to make their partner feel cherished through eye contact, body language, giving attention and time, and gestures of appreciation. Voicing thankfulness boosts love.

5. They don’t pick themselves up by putting their spouse down

Torah teaches us to “Love another as you love yourself’. We cannot possibly love another if we are clueless on what it means to love our inner self. When we live with a sense of self-worth, we possess the confidence to love another without feeling threatened by their success.

Smart couples don’t need to push their partner down in order to feel tall. They are not diminished by their spouse’s accomplishments. They are secure and fulfilled. They cheer their partner’s achievements as if their own. Putting down one’s partner to raise yourself shows insecurity, a stumbling block to creating strong relationships.

Marriage takes wisdom, effort and reflection. Each day brings us the new opportunity to show our love and grow our relationship. Take a few moments each day to seek out the path towards living and loving better.

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