Whether you like the Duggars, their reality show, and their 18 (soon to be 19 + 1 grandchild) children, they have somehow made it all work despite a lot of cards being stacked against them in today's world.
In a recent interview with People Magazine, Jim Bob shared his tips for a healthy, happy relationship with your spouse while raising kids.
1. Make time for each other.
"We have a weekly date, even if it is just to take a walk in the park," says Jim Bob. "We will go out to lunch or dinner and talk together about the kids, upcoming events, what we have coming up."
Life gets busy, especially when you have children. Despite your jobs, housework, bills, your children's busy schedules, and so on, it's immensely important to take time out for one each and every week to just reconnect. Like Jim Bob, a simple walk around your neighborhood or a local park can suffice. Even better, have a dinner together (just the two of you) each week. You don't have to go out either. Feed the kids first, put them to bed, then sit down for a dinner together. I know it's easier said than done, but start penciling it into your schedule if that's what it takes. A happier and more loving relationship is worth it.
2. Forgive one another.
"We asked an Amish couple we met who had been married 50 years what the most important thing to know about marriage was," says Jim Bob. "And, they told us, the most important thing to say is, 'I was wrong and will you please forgive me.' Each one of us tries to humble ourselves before the other and be willing to admit mistakes."
This is probably one of the hardest things to do, at least I know it is for me. If my husband and I get into an argument, the last thing I want to do is admit that I'm wrong and ask for forgiveness. In fact, it's a common reaction for many people to put the blame on their partner, even when they are the one to blame. The next time you find yourself in an argument, step back for a moment and ask yourself what you're really fighting about and if it is really worth it. Fighting chips away at your marriage bit by bit over time, so admitting your were wrong, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving your partner goes a long way towards a truly loving partnership.
3. Look for the good in one another.
When speaking of arguments, Jim Bob mentions that he and Michelle avoid critical assessments of one another and instead look for the good. "It is easy to think of the things that are bothering you more often than the things that are wonderful," Jim Bob says. "It's important to remember those things about your spouse and think about those things. A great rule of thumb is to say 10 nice things to every one critical thing."
This, again, may be difficult to do amidst the daily stress of life. When you find yourself about to criticize your spouse, stop and reflect for a moment. As Jim Bob said, it's easy to find the negative in your spouse and in your relationship, but are criticisms healthy? While you're likely going to be critical of your spouse at some point, start remind yourself to focus on the good as well. Compliment your spouse often and remember to tell them that you love them and appreciate them. This may sound trivial, but it's easy to forget. And as Jim Bob suggests, say 10 nice things to your spouse for every one critical comment.
These three little things are so simple, yet so many of us in marriages can't seem to get them right. If you and your spouse are having problems, try taking Jim Bob's advice.