Somehow I have long been attracted to famous quotes. One of my favorites is from the world renowned philosopher and thinker Paris Hilton, who is quoted as having said, "Well, it's not like I'm a rocket surgeon." Apparently she is not.
On a more serious note, a favorite quote of mine is, "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny." This quote is variously attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Reade, Stephen R. Covey and the ever-present "anonymous."
I first came across the quote as part of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People course, which I have recommended numerous times in this column. The course is offered through the Center for Workforce Development at San Juan College. The May class is already full, but you may want to look into the class scheduled for September.
I have recently been in contact with the authors of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Marriages" and hope to have them as my guest writers in the coming weeks. For this week I thought I would share some thoughts of what I consider to be positive, helpful habits to strengthen and encourage your marriage. These habits will be listed more as a factor of how they come to my mind than in hierarchal order.
Habit one: push the pause button in the driveway. Face it — your life can be stressful at times. You most likely deal with people in your day-to-day business and that by itself can create moments of tension, frustration and hostility. As an American citizen you have every right to bring a disgruntled, lousy attitude from your day into your home and infect all the residents with your down mood.
May I suggest you might not want to make that a regular habit for the outcome of such is fairly predictable and highly unpleasant. It would be far more productive to stop before entering your home and choose the attitude that you want to bring in with you. Your work day problems can be dealt with tomorrow. For the rest of your day you are going to choose to be upbeat, encouraging, supportive, loving, respectful, etc. You are going to choose to be a blessing to your family, not a downer.
Now I'm not about to tell you that this is necessarily an easy thing to do, but I will promise you it is realistic and doable. And, before you tell me you cannot control your emotions, please tell me who does if you don't?
Habit Two is closely related to Habit One: engage in a 10-second kiss with your spouse immediately upon entering the house. When you get home it is a given that you and your spouse are at different places physically, emotionally, spiritually — you name it. There is a power in embracing and kissing even if only for 10 seconds. It will be the case for many that following this connection you will need some alone time to de-stress from your day. You may need some quiet time to finish processing some details before engaging totally with your spouse and children. But trust me, the initial connecting power of the 10-second kiss is well worth the time and effort required. Please try it — you'll like it.
Habit Three: call a time-out when one or both are too upset to speak calmly and peacefully with the other. I know I have mentioned this one in prior columns, and I likely will again because it is so important to the overall health and wellness of your marriage. All of us have vivid memories when we engaged in a heated and ugly conversation with our spouse and only later realized we probably shouldn't have done that. And, while you well may apologize, the damage has been done and may not be reversible.
By mutually agreeing to table the issue for a short time and to revisit when cooler heads may prevail, you can save yourselves so much drama and grief. Time-outs can be called for verbally or with socially acceptable hand gestures. There are two important points to remember about time-outs. One is that they must be agreed to in advance and absolutely consented to whenever requested. The other is that the person calling for the time-out takes responsibility to schedule the time-in — the time when you will discuss the issue. This is time-out, not cop-out.
Habit Four is closely related to Habit Three. It is "never threaten the long-term view of the marriage." Most, if not all of us, have had moments when we were so angry with our spouse that we entertained thoughts of calling it quits. There is no harm in thinking such thoughts at that moment. There is great danger, however, in letting those thoughts fester or in giving them voice.
You likely made a vow some time back that you would stay with your spouse no matter what problems and challenges might arise. Marlon, a 10-year-old, described the marriage vow this way: "a man and a woman promise to go through sickness and illness and diseases together." I guess he's right, but hopefully marriage is a whole lot more than that.
The fact is that you made a commitment and you should not tread on that when you are temporarily so upset to even consider breaking it. Threatening to leave sends shock waves through your spouse and gets them to start thinking maybe he or she should be the one to leave. It's just a terrible mistake and should be avoided at all costs.
Well there are plenty more habits that, if incorporated into your marriage, could prove to be highly beneficial and rewarding. I plan to talk about some others on TWOgether as ONE tomorrow at 6 p.m. on KLJH 107.1FM. I hope you can join me then.Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.