June 29, 2020
Today we are going to cover three of our marriage non-negotiables. What we mean by non-negotiable is that these are essentially rules for our marriage. These are things that we discussed before being married. Neither of us is perfect, but these three rules are things that we want to follow 99.99% of the time in our marriage. Let’s jump in and we can explain more as we go.
Divorce is Not an Option
First and foremost, divorce is not an option for us. Now we need to preface this by saying that we don’t say this to shame anyone who has gotten a divorce or anyone who comes from a family with divorced parents.
Cody and I committed to love one another forever, good or bad, sunshine or rain on our wedding day. We knew that there was no way we could predict the hardships and challenges we would face in our marriage, but we knew what we were vowing to one another.
Ever since I became a Christian, I was always deeply moved by marriage and the promise it reflects. Marriage is meant to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you likely have heard the story of Jesus dying on a cross for the ones he loved. At our wedding ceremony, Cody and I washed one another’s feet as a promise to one another that we would seek to serve the other above our own selfish needs or wants. We were promising to put the good of one another, the good of us as a team, before the good of ourselves.
We are human beings, and we fail every single day at loving one another and serving one another. But the point is that by declaring that divorce is not an option for us, we are declaring that we will do whatever it takes to make sure that our marriage isn’t something that slowly slips away from us.
By declaring that divorce isn’t something we will hold in our back pockets if something starts to get hard, we are declaring that we will find a way to get through each and every challenging and sticky situation together.
Divorce Proofing Your Marriage
Divorce isn’t something that sneaks up on couples. You’ll hear many couples share how they slowly “fell out of love.” It is hard for them to pinpoint one situation, one unkind word, one argument or issue that caused a divorce. Instead, it’s the years of unresolved conflict, poor communication, resentment, infidelity, that lead to two people slowly growing apart and deciding to divorce.
Here we are going to make another disclaimer that Cody and I in NO way condone staying in an abusive situation. Your health and safety is priority number one. If you are in a relationship that is physically or emotionally abusive, you need to leave and find safety.
What we are talking about here are the leading causes for divorce: infidelity, money, lack of communication, arguing, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of intimacy. These are the root issues that are leading to couples choosing to divorce. Knowing this BEFORE you get married can give you such a powerful perspective as you enter into your marriage. Cody and I are choosing to be PROACTIVE rather than reactive to these issues.
Since we know that divorce isn’t an option for us, we are going to do all we can to protect our marriage from these root causes of divorce. The main cause is infidelity. We will touch on that topic later because that speaks to one of our other non-negotiables!
Another leading cause is money. Since divorce isn’t an option for us, Andrea and I communicate about our money often! If you haven’t already listened to Episode # 8: Marriage and Money: Let’s Talk About Finances, check that out when you are done with this episode! We detail how different our spending habits are, how we budget, and how we make our money decisions. By doing all of the things we detail in that episode, we are protecting our marriage from divorce!
Lack of communication, arguing, and unrealistic expectations are other leading causes of divorce. We have discussed some of our preventative measures for these issues as well in previous episodes. In Episode 5, Cody and I covered how we face disagreements and issues while still remaining a team. In our previous episode, we talked about how we have frequent date nights in order to ensure that we are staying connected and communicating about our needs.
Cody and I are super passionate about healthy communication. We do our best to discuss concerns or hurts after they happen with the goal of setting more clear expectations for one another. We choose to discuss our issues in hopes that we can continue to be proactive about anything that could cause us to feel separated or distant from one another. Many times these conversations aren’t comfortable or fun to have, which is probably why they often go unsaid in most relationships. But for us, we would rather have a hard conversation that lasts 20 minutes than to have a rift in our relationship. Maybe we will do an episode about this in the future…! Usually we end these hard conversations feeling closer, more loved, and heard.
Listen to hear a recent example of a scenario that could have caused a lot of pain, unrealistic expectations, money issues, etc and how we navigated it!
Overall, by saying that divorce is not an option for us, Cody and I are saying that we will continue to choose one another above all else. We will serve one another even when it is hard. We won’t allow things to come between our relationship. When we face issues, we will face them as a team. And if anything starts to separate us, Cody and I will either remove that from our lives or we will make a plan to deal with it well.
Expectations and Boundaries
Our second non-negotiable has to do with one of the leading causes of divorce that we didn’t touch on earlier: infidelity. Infidelity is defined as being unfaithful to a spouse or partner. We believe that being faithful to one another is more than just not having sex with someone else. We believe being unfaithful is really having a divided heart, or putting someone else in the place of your spouse. That could be a physical thing or it could be purely emotional!
Just like with the other causes of divorce, Cody and I want to be proactive about how we can protect our marriage from infidelity. In order to do this, we have set clear boundaries and expectations for how we interact with our friends who are of the opposite sex.
We will detail out what our expectations are, but know this: yours might look different! There are some actions that are obviously off limits and then there are others that are more of a gray area. You and your partner need to talk about what your expectations are of one another. If you never talk about it, there is a strong possibility that it will cause future hurt in your relationship.
I know that I am definitely more sensitive in this area, simply due to past relationships. It’s really important for me to know that Cody is choosing me each day, and that no one else is getting his emotional or physical attention. Before we set these clear expectations, I definitely remember going down super negative rabbit holes. Like if he was texting someone, I would start to wonder who he was talking to, what just made him laugh, what if it was another girl? It sounds crazy to say it out loud, but that is the negative space my brain would go into!
In an age of social media and smartphones, we can be connected to others at any second. Cody and I have the expectation that conversations with the opposite gender online will remain at a minimum. Does that mean we don’t ever friend anyone of the opposite sex on facebook or we never message someone on Instagram? No. But we do expect one another to have those conversations with integrity. Listen to hear Cody’s helpful tip for communicating on social media with friends of the opposite sex!
We can still motivate, encourage, and help We will not seek out conversations with the opposite sex in hopes to be emotionally fulfilled or validated by someone else. We both have friends that are the opposite gender. We talk to those friends by text or calls and that is totally normal. But it’s more the topics of conversation and the purpose of the conversation that Cody and I have expectations for.
Cody might text my best friend to discuss what plans they have for my birthday. I might text a guy friend to ask if they can come help us with a house project. But we wouldn’t reach out to a friend of the opposite sex because we had an argument and we wanted to feel heard. We wouldn’t reach out to a high school friend of the opposite sex just to “catch up” for a while.
Our Issues are Our Issues
Ok, that leads us to our last marriage non-negotiable! What I’m finding as we talk about these is how intertwined each one is with one another. Really this whole episode has been about being proactive in your relationship in order to make sure that hurt and divide doesn’t happen in your marriage.
Our last non-negotiable is hard to title, but what I chose to call is is this “our issues are our issues.” Cody and I know that we are not angels. We have already admitted to you that we do not live up to our vows and our promises to one another each day. There are days when we are not on the same page. There are times when we say something that is purposefully hurtful. There are issues that cause us to feel distanced from one another. And there are definitely little quirks that we each have that drive each other crazy.
However, none of those things gives us the right to talk poorly about one another to other people. Dang, I wish so bad that this wasn’t true, but the more I interact with married people of all ages, the more I realize how socially acceptable it is to bash your spouse, especially when you are in groups of just one gender.
Ladies, I’m sure you’ve been in that group. You’re talking about your partners and someone starts to complain that their husband never rinses his dishes after eating. Then the next woman has to top that issue and say that their husband always forgets to take out the trash, even when he says he would. It goes on and on, with each lady adding their woe. The talk is not positive, it is not uplifting, it’s only purpose is to tear others down.
It’s the same with guys. There is a place for a “hey man, I don’t know how to deal with this situation.” There isn’t a place for “my wife drives me nuts!!” It’s so important that these conversations take place with a close group of friends, and that the purpose is to figure out how to reconcile and make a situation better.
Before we were married, Cody and I made the promise to one another that our issues would stay our issues, no matter how big or small. It was really important to us that we could trust one another to only talk about each other in a positive light. We just have seen how damaging it can be if couples talk poorly about one another, especially when the other person isn’t there to defend themselves!
This is the person we vowed to love forever, this is the person who is supposed to be our favorite person in the world, so why would we want others to think they are terrible? It’s just a weird concept!!
Additionally, when Cody and I have a disagreement about something, we have promised to keep that between ourselves. Unless we really find ourselves in a situation where we cannot resolve it alone- in that case we would go to someone who we both trust as a mediator and we would have that conversation together as a team. Otherwise, Cody and I are going to resolve the issue.
This goes back to clear communication and expectations. Usually, the person who is complaining or upset about something that their spouse has done has not even talked to their spouse about that issue. Rather than waste time and give my friends a poor image of my spouse, I would have a conversation with Cody about whatever is upsetting me.
Don’t fall into peer pressure- be bold and ask your friends if they need help/you need help.
How to Set Your Own Non-Negotiables
We wanted to wrap this episode up by discussing how you can set your own non-negotiables for your marriage. Even if you have been married for a long time, this is still applicable! Remember the goal is to be proactive and minimize future hurt in your relationship.
Think about patterns you’ve noticed in other couple’s relationships that you have viewed as negative. Are there things that were common in your parent’s relationship that always irritated you or confused you? Try to get to the root of those issues and then think about how you can prevent those things in your own relationship.
We would also suggest looking at your own relationship’s history. What were the reasons behind the biggest arguments or biggest causes of hurt in your past together? How can you create an expectation that can prevent those things from happening again?
We don’t care if you steal any or all of our non-negotiables, but the important thing is that you make them personal to you and your relationship. Communicate clearly with one another and give examples of what following these non-negotiables would look like.
When you set these clear expectations and boundaries, you are allowing yourselves to focus on creating a beautiful and thriving relationship!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Cody and I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you can get started on creating your own non-negotiables! If you learned something new, we would love it if you would share that with us by posting on social media and tagging us at @morethanmarriagepodcast! We can’t wait to hear from you!