10 do’s and don’ts for a happy marriage

What makes a happy marriage? Is it communication and trust? Date nights and romance? Dedication and forgiveness?

According to Kathy and Todd Nennich, parishioners of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary Sept. 3, the recipe for a healthy marriage combines all of the above.

For the past 12 years, Kathy and Todd have been involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a movement aimed at strengthening and revitalizing Catholic marriages. Currently, they are serving a two-year term as the area leaders for the Arlington and Richmond dioceses.

After attending their first Marriage Encounter weekend in June 2001, they decided to make their marriage a priority and put each other first. Since then, they've discovered a few practices to pick up and pitfalls to avoid for a happy marital life.

Do: Pray together every day.
Marriage is more than a promise, it's a sacrament. Working together to grow closer to God through prayer will benefit both husband and wife.

Don't: Go to bed angry.
It's an old cliche for a reason. Settle conflicts as soon as possible to avoid resentment and tension.

Do: Communicate daily.
With busy schedules, it can be easy to lose touch with your spouse. Try to turn off the electronic gadgets and spend time in conversation, even if it's only for a few minutes a day.

Don't: Engage in name-calling and hurtful teasing.
While it's fine to joke around, it's important to treat your spouse with respect. Humor is fun, but when it reveals hidden resentment, it can cause more harm than good.

Do: Keep the romance alive.
Remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place and make gestures to keep the spark alive. Kathy and Todd suggest saying, "I love you" daily.

Don't: Be selfish or greedy. Consideration is key in a healthy marriage. Try to remember your spouse's needs and desires.

Do: Make time for date nights.
Quality time is important for a marriage. When their kids (now 24 and 21) were growing up, Kathy and Todd made spending time alone together a priority. Now that they have an empty nest, they enjoy dinner and movie nights and taking evening walks as a couple.

Don't: Play the blame game.
Pointing fingers doesn't solve problems and can fuel hurt feelings or anger. Instead of blaming each other, work together to solve issues.

Do: Practice forgiveness.
Nobody's perfect and your spouse may mess up. Unless your safety is affected, follow the Lord's example and strive for forgiveness as much as possible.

Don't: Be dishonest.
Good relationships are built on trust and lies often multiply. Keep your relationship's foundation firm by always telling the truth.

Bonus: Make a decision to love one another daily.
If a couple doesn't spend time together or work on their marriage, it's easy for them to become disillusioned, Kathy said.

"You can start living a 'married, single life,' where the wife does her thing and the man does his thing and you grow apart," she said. "They get set in their ways and when they come together, they don't know how each other feels."

Every day recommit to giving your spouse the love and attention he or she deserves in order to keep your relationship healthy.

Bahr can be reached on Twitter@KBahrACH.

Find out more
For more info about Worldwide Marriage Encounter, go to renewmarriage-vanorth.org.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013