Sometimes it takes losing the love of your life to understand exactly what went wrong. But in such a situation, it’s usually already too late. For a man named Gerald Rodgers, a painful divorce provided the kind of eye-opening perspective on marriage he wished someone had shared with him.
Gerald was married to his former wife for about 16 years prior to their marriage breaking up. Rather than see another person go through the same heartache, he shared on Facebook 20 important marriage tips.
Below are Gerald’s pearls of wisdom, in their entirety:
1. Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted.
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When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.
2. Protect your own heart.
Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.
3. Fall in love OVER and OVER and OVER again.
You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that, you have to re-choose each other every day. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.
4. Always see the best in her.
Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love.
5. It’s not your job to change or fix her.
Your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever-changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.
6. Take FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions.
It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that, your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.
7. NEVER blame your wife.
If you get frustrated or angry, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.
8. Allow your woman to JUST BE.
When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you…
9. Don’t run away when she’s upset.
Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.
10. BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously.
Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.
11. Fill her soul every day.
Learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority every day to make her feel loved.
12. Be present.
Give her not only your time but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.
13. Don’t be an idiot…. And don’t be afraid of being one either.
You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.
14. Give her space.
The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered.)
15. Be vulnerable.
You don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fear and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.
16. Be fully transparent.
If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, and part of that courage is allowing her to love your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.
17. Never stop growing together.
The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is for a relationship that isn’t focused on growing. Find common goals, dreams, and visions to work towards.
18. Don’t worry about money.
Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons’ strength to win.
19. Forgive immediately & focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past.
Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. Forgiveness is freedom. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.
20. Always choose love.
In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.
Gerald ends with a reminder that marriage isn’t about “happily ever after,” but about work.
“Through that work, the happiness will come. These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.”
Thought the insight came too late for his previous marriage, Gerald has since remarried.
No doubt this wisdom will help not only him moving forward, but anyone who was so fortunate to see it when the advice was needed most.
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