Relationship Advice: A Map for Your Marriage

Have you ever been lost?

My favorite line about being lost comes from an old "M*A*S*H" episode where Hawkeye says, "We're not lost. I've been lost before, and this is not what it looks like."

We all know the drill - you thought you knew where you were going, so you didn't bring a map, and you found yourself so hopelessly turned around that you had no idea where to go next.

Ever feel that way in your relationship?

To Plan or Not to Plan

Consider with me the last vacation you were able to take. Think back to all the planning that was involved, things such as where to go, what to take with you, notifying people you would be gone and even consulting a map on how to get there.

Quite a bit of preparation, conscious thought and planning goes into a successful vacation.

Now, consider this: How much planning and conscious thought has gone into your marriage?

It's truly amazing how some folks will spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning how they would like their marriage relationship to be.

Most of us seem to stumble into relationships and marriage and then continue to kind of make it up as we go along.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to create a map to guide us on our journey through marriage?

Creating a relationship map

Actually, there are several different ways. One of the simplest, and yet most profound, is through modeling.

When you want to do something that you have never done before, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You simply find someone who has done or is doing what you want to do, discover what they have done or do, and do it as well.

This idea of modeling works so well because success leaves a trail that can be followed.

In terms of marriage, look around your own world for the couples who have the strongest and most enjoyable marriages. That doesn't mean they don't have their share of struggles. It just means they have found a way to manage them in a way that strengthens their marriage.

So how do you find out what their map has been to get them to where they are?

Simple - just ask! While it may seem awkward at first, most folks are honored to be asked and very willing to help.

Here are some questions to ask successful couples about how to build your own relationship map. Start with general questions and then get more specific:

What do you think has made your marriage so successful?

What are the top five things that go into a healthy relationship?

What do you have to believe about your spouse to keep your marriage strong?

How do you handle small conflicts?

How do you handle larger conflicts?

How do you come to agreement about your finances?

How do you come to agreement on how to handle the children?

How do you divide domestic chores?

What do you do on a daily basis to keep the spark alive?

What has been your biggest challenge as a married couple? How did you handle it?

Do you keep the toilet seat up or down?

These are just a sampling of the many questions you can ask successful couples. You can come up with your own or even better questions to help you create your own map.

The most important factor is to simply ask and then put into action what you discover.

Jeff Herring is a Relationship Coach, Speaker, and Syndicated Relationship Columnist. Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for more relationship tips and tools, a free internet newsletter and free e-programs to enrich your relationship.

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