We are no marriage experts, nor have we perfected our marriage. Both Cole and I receive weekly messages asking for marriage advice and tips. It’s hard to lend advice, as every relationship and marriage dynamic is different – that’s what makes relationships unique right? As a high-functioning couple that merely operates on a few important foundational key standards, we are always flattered and eager to help others.

We haven’t fought in years. If we don’t agree on something, it’s never odd or aggravating. It’s not a heated debate and we actively listen and process the other’s input. So, here it is! We won’t claim this is the “three key secret sauce”, but we are confident you will find value in what works for us, and you can make it your own, for your relationship.

One: Listen to Your Language

We have all heard about the 5 Love Languages by now right? This isn’t about love languages. We encourage you to take time to research and understand your individual love languages next! The love languages are an important way to love your partner the way they are programmed to be loved and receive love.

This first quality of “listening to your language” is literal. Your voice, your tone, the actual words that come out of your mouth with the intent to be received by your significant other. What are you saying to them when you are happy? Mad? Frustrated? Celebrating? Coordinating? Daily Communication? Listen to your choice of words. Are they kind? Compassionate? Did you think before you spoke or replied? Do you name call? Do you use cuss words and damaging words/negative words when you don’t see eye-to-eye? Even jokingly, do you use disrespectful words or names towards them? We don’t. We just don’t. It doesn’t make us right or wrong – but it sure makes our relationship FEEL and function at a higher level of respect and consideration. With control of our language towards each other, the important information is received between us as intended – even when we disagree. Cussing and name calling is a great way to shut anyone down and hinder their reception of what you want them to understand or hear. You don’t need examples. If you are an adult, if you have feelings – you know what words, names and tones are appropriate to feel respected and communicate effectively. Want to be heard? Listen to your voice.

Want to test how you feel about your spouse and what level of language respect you have for them? LISTEN to what you frequently say about them to others – naturally. Do you constantly complain and belittle them behind their back? How would you feel if you heard them speak this way about you? Maybe, this isn’t you. Maybe you easily find yourself speaking kindly and with the utmost respect for your significant other. Keep it up! Now, LISTEN to how you speak to their face. What words do you use? What tone? Do you look them in the eyes and show respect that you are paying attention?

It may sound easy, but if you are not currently functioning at the language level you want to be, it’s going to take practice. It’s going to take effort and observation from both of you to eliminate the language that doesn’t belong in a relationship. We suggest you start by eliminating any name calling, unnecessary tones and looking face-to-face when communicating important or emotional information.

Two: Supporting Dreams by Staying Interesting

We’ve all heard it. You must support your spouse or “my spouse is my biggest supporter.” But, are they? Or do you feel obligated to say that and then argue behind closed doors? Do they hinder your passions, growths, opportunities, advancements or dreams? It’s ok to be honest with yourself and then be honest with them.

We faced this during our initial dating phase. You know the phase when you are insecure and learning about the other person? Are they really this way? Are they telling me the truth? Are they only on their best behavior? We as a new couple faced all of those same internal questions and concerns at the beginning. We were enamored by one another’s lives, dreams, goals and current/past accomplishments. It was funny how all of those same factors and influencers that attracted us, quickly became the topics around fear of supporting the other. For example, I was still modeling and traveling. Cole had to figure out how to support me genuinely and confidently. He had to gain confidence that by supporting my endeavors, it was creating a better relationship and foundation of respect for my growth. In return, when we know we are supported, we naturally want to reciprocate. I faced many similar circumstances, as we were both heavily independent and active in our personal growth and goals before we met. I had to gain confidence in all his endeavors. I had to figure out how to genuinely encourage them as well and put fear aside.

Well, practice makes perfect and trust goes a long way. We quickly agreed to move forward with complete trust and support of one another. We realized the importance of staying interesting to each other as the years pass. The importance of our individual accomplishments and goals would not be compromised by marriage or our relationship, but rather huge factors to our emotional success and bond as a couple. We keep each other on our toes, we keep ourselves on our toes and we keep supporting each other to new heights. You cannot grow as a couple, if you cannot grow as an individual. Improve your relationships by allowing yourselves to explore new capabilities, dreams and take on goals. Improve your relationship by staying interesting to the other person and yourself! Personal growth will require actions and actions equal time. Allow each other the appropriate time to stay interesting and self-fulfilled. Being a supportive spouse will reciprocate with the right partner. Watch your relationship grow in emotional prosperity, unique experiences and confidence!

Without support, life is so much harder. Without the support of our spouse, living to our fullest potential is almost impossible if all we do is aim to please them. We support one another very strongly – absolutely. We also recognize the importance of the choices we make for each endeavor we wish to be supported in. We consider how that opportunity or dream may influence the quality, morals and structure of our marriage before moving forward. We also find areas we can BOTH grow and enjoy together such athletics, entrepreneurship and watersports. We communicate our support needs using the above language from number one and build that support around our relationship’s biggest key quality below.

Three: Respect

We saved the best for last, because respect is the all encompassing and ultimate foundation of any relationship. Say it out loud R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Say it again – respect. One more time now… respect!

As we go through our days connected to social media, connected to in-person impressions and simply navigate through our life’s relationships with everyone, not just each other, we pay close attention to respect and the HUGE lack of – respect. Haven’t you seen how some people talk about their spouse? Their children? Themselves? It’s sad to see the lack of self-respect many struggle with. Self-respect is an issue that we don’t want to dive into, as this is about respect within marriage. Just know, once again – you must have respect for yourself in order to have the appropriate in any of your relationships.

Cole and I have tremendous respect for one another on all levels. Respect is ultimately what bonds us the most. I respect him as an individual, a man, an athlete, a father, a friend, a brother, a son and in his business choices. I respect Cole, because he shows respect in all of his “identities” above – not just to me. The way he treats his family, his mother, his sisters, his father, his friends. I hear how he speaks of others and how he considers others. I see how he respects himself in his health, his personal growth, his time and his inner growth. I see how he respects his peers, his business endeavors, his time and how he respects finances. I see his respect for me. I don’t just see it. I feel it. I have it. I cherish it. Again, it’s all encompassing, so pay attention not only to how someone respects YOU, but how they respect their life overall.

Turn the finger around now and point it at yourself. Are you lacking respect in areas of your personal life with your partner aside? Are you respectful of your budget, your personal development, your family, your business endeavors, your promises to yourself or your health? We should never expect qualities from others, which we do not expect from ourselves.

I’ll end with a simple question I’ve used to grow myself BEFORE I was ever married. I hope that you too, will benefit and consider answering this question each time you have choices to make.

“Am I the person I would want to marry? If so, why? If not, where do I need to improve to become the person I would want to marry?”

This question is easily changed to fit any relationship. Be the friend you wish to have. Be the business partner you wish to have. Be the person you wish to be surrounded by.

It’s simple. Answer the question often and find where you are feeling you need personal growth. Work on that. Become the person you wish to be married to and watch the quality of your relationships grow. If they are not growing with you, it’s time to re-evaluate what you deserve.

Cheers to healthier relationships built on a loving language, mutual support and undeniable respect.

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