This is the first of a four part speech series that I gave in my local Toastmasters speech club. These speeches are generally about 5-7 minutes long. Hence the catchy title. Well, I think it’s catchy at least!
Have you ever watched a great cooking show? Maybe it was Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay. These people are the masters at what they do! Within minutes they create an exquisite looking meal that is sure to please. These master chefs will all tell you the secret to their success begins with one thing – the proper ingredients.
So let’s talk about something even more important than food. Let’s talk about marriage and some of the key ingredients that make up a quick and easy recipe for complete marital bliss.
My wife and I have been married for almost 6 amazing years now but in terms of successful marriages, we’re still rookies. So to properly research this topic, I went to the pros. I looked online and I spoke with many of my friends and family all of whom have been married a lot longer than me.
I learned that this marriage thing is big. Really big. There’s a lot that goes into a great marriage! But in all of my research I found 3 key ingredients that kept boiling up to the surface.
So let’s get cooken shall we?
Ingredient #1 – Communication
In all the articles I read, communication is always at the top of the list. But what does that mean? There’s a lot, but here are 3 quick examples:
- Forgiveness. When we were first married, my great uncle, who married us by the way and has been married for over 50 years himself, told us that every night we must wipe the slate clean. There will be little differences throughout the day sure but they’re not worth holding onto. Good communication involves the ability to forgive one another.
- Respect. There will be disagreements in marriage. It’s inevitable. If there weren’t something would be wrong. But it’s how those disagreements are handled (with respect) that makes all the difference. When we were married, another piece of advice we received was that there should never a raised voice in the home. I was told that my wife is to be treated as a queen and you should always speak to a queen with respect.
- Sense of Humor. On a lighter side, a key component of good communication is to laugh together. In researching this topic, so many people told me it’s very important to make each other laugh, often.
This leads me to Ingredient #2 – Gratitude
Gratitude involves being grateful for everything your spouse does for you. It means focusing on the things you are getting and not the things you’re not getting. By focusing on what you are getting, you’ll feel happy, fulfilled, and receive even more.
To do this requires a lot of selflessness. And that takes practice! It’s just not natural to put another’s needs first in your life. One key point I learned on this, by a couple who’s been married over 20 years and has a great marriage, is to do your partners favorite thing often.
Now I took this to heart. With Heidi there’s no doubt that her favorite thing is dancing. Because of this, she got me on the dance floor with a private instructor learning tango, salsa, and swing. I mean can you just see it? Me? Out there on the floor, 5, 6, 7, 8. Uggh. But I did it for Heidi because I’ve learned that’s what good husbands are supposed to do.
Another aspect of gratitude in your relationship is having the right attitude. Keith Harrell, Speaker and Author said, “A positive attitude is perhaps more important at home than anywhere else. As spouses, one of our most vital roles is to help those we love feel good about themselves.”
This goes hand in hand with something that I heard repeatedly which is to give your spouse a genuine, specific compliment each day.
And now for the 3rd and Final Ingredient – Love
How can you possibly have a marriage without love?! Just before marrying us, another piece of advice my great uncle gave, was to end the day telling each other, “I love you”. By doing this it re-affirms your love and you can never go to bed angry if you know you have to say it and mean it!
Part of love is keeping and adding fuel to the fire of romance. Everyone told me that the key to romance is dating. By going on a date once a week, and acting as if it were your first date, you’ll be sure to put on your best show and keep the romance alive.
Now let me be clear about something, this dating I’m referring to is dating your spouse and only your spouse.
I learned also that love isn’t just a feeling but a verb. I was told that you must put love into action. My aunt specifically told me actively loving her husband helped her to find something to admire in him and the result is, she loves him more and more. This also helps her to, in her words, “just plain do nice things for him”.
My mother told me about some elderly friends of theirs Jim and Beverly. Beverly has arthritis. So every night Jim, as a small act of kindness, puts toothpaste on her toothbrush. One night they had an argument. But Jim stayed true to his daily act of love. To show he was still upset however, he squished the entire tube of toothpaste onto her toothbrush. It turned into a big joke the two were able to quickly reconcile.
I think that example alone ties in everything that goes into a great marriage.
In everything that I’ve learned, these are the top ingredients of a successful marriage: Communication, Gratitude, and Love.
So throw them in together, let them stew awhile, and then sit back and savor the taste of a truly fulfilling marriage feast.