In conversations with couples, I’ve found an interesting thing. Many have never discussed the “Ground Rules” of their marriage and home. There may be hopes and expectations, but that’s simply not enough. If you don’t have some predetermined boundaries, then the risk of crossing into undesired territory becomes much more likely. In daily life together, “norms” get established, and it’s a great idea to clarify what they are and where the lines fall.
Here are some of the non-negotiable “Ground Rules” my wife and I worked through and decided would be foundational in our relationship. They’re not earth-shattering, but may be helpful:
- Speech – We’ve established that certain words/language/ways-of-speaking are not acceptable in our house. It applies to all of us and the guests that enter, especially during times of disagreement. (Colossians 4:6)
- Transparency – Money, friendships, etc are always in clear view of both. Secret feelings can be very destructive. (Ephesians 4:25-32, 5:22-33)
- Solidarity – We don’t “break ranks” with each other concerning extended family. We defend each other to our own family in things like holiday activities and parenting. After making choices as a couple and family, we stand as a unit. (Genesis 2:24)
- Confidence – Conversations with a person of the opposite sex never include things reserved for one another. In other words, there’s no room for emotional intimacy with someone other than my soul-mate. (Galatians 5:9)
- In Public – We’re committed to not embarrassing each other in public settings by making disrespectful comments about the other; physical attributes, work habits, etc. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Hopefully you’ve discussed such things in your marriage. If you haven’t, please do. Having a plan really makes a difference. Either way, habits are going to be established, why not try to make them good ones!
For a printable PDF version, click here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/96565037/Marriage%20Ground%20Rules.pdf
These are well stated. My husband and I have most of these, even if they haven’t been spoken aloud.
I just talked to a friend of mine whose husband gets annoyed at her for asking basic questions like, Where are you going? When will you be back? What are you going to do over at [your guy friend’s] house? There are skads of people who don’t get this and it’s damaging their relationships without them ever understanding what’s happening.
You’re right. Serious trouble often starts with differing expectations that are never discussed.