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Ever heard of the term “pro tip”? It’s origin came from gamers who were mocking novices. Nowadays, it’s become internet slang for “tips given by professionals to those who are lesser experienced.” Simply said, a “pro tip” is information intended to help convert a novice to an expert.
About 20 years ago, a very experienced pastor gave me a “pro tip” about conferences. He told me that if I go to a conference, walk away with one idea, and put that idea into practice, the entire event was worth the time, cost, and effort. That little bit of wisdom helped me see the value of conferences, enjoy them more while improving the way I would take notes, distill the information, and put things into practice.
One little notion (pro tip) helped ease frustration which paved the way for productivity. And that’s how I look at marital “pro tips.” Alleviating irritations can enable productivity and feed passion.
This is what I look to gather when I’m with couples both older and younger than myself. I look for “pro tips.” If I can gather a morsel of information that can give enable (or my marriage) more understanding, better communication, feed passion, and equip us to work better together, then I’m “all ears” to anyone who has some “pro tips” for me. This coming May will be 20 years of marriage, and because we are both humans who tend to change a bit as the seasons of life change, we are always looking for those “pro tips” to help us navigate through life.
For example, I was doing some marital counseling the other day and I was talking about the conflict that can come from the difference in partner styles. (BTW: partner styles is the place where so much irritation can come if you don’t navigate through them properly.) I had remarked about my family doesn’t squeeze from the bottom of the toothpaste tube which I find ridiculous and incredibly irritating. How can you maximize the amount of toothpaste out of the tube if you don’t squeeze it properly? As I was sharing this example to the young couple, they gave me a “pro tip.”
“We’ve dealt with that before. So we buy two tubes of toothpaste so that doesn’t become an irritation.”
In my head, I thought “#ProTip” followed by me asking for permission to use them as an example in a blog (Yes, I do think in hashtags.)
It’s so simple yet profound. Why so profound? Because, first, a simple $2 fix solves a constant conversation that’s been going on for years. And, second, there are numbers of you reading this who are probably saying (out of your pride), “We don’t need to buy another tube. My spouse just needs to do what I do and/or get over themselves.” I wonder how many irritations and quarrels are happening because we are so determined to force a style or pattern of life upon our spouse. Your way of doing things isn’t necessarily right or better, it’s just “your way of doing it” (which is another subject for another blog).
Recognize irritations for what they are.
Don’t get hung up on the little things. If you do, I find if issues regarding toothpaste tubes or the position of toilet paper rolls are breaking your marriage, then most likely, there’s something going on and those things have now become the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” See those areas of irritation as, not something that needs to be ignored, but navigated through properly. All of this may sound silly to you, but as someone who sits with a ton of couples, it’s the ignored little things that end up causes unnecessary stress and pain upon marriages.
Be “in the room” with other couple(s).
As a pastor, I love to be “in the room” with other pastors. It simply means to sit, listen, and observe (perhaps engage in conversation) with others as to learn. But for that to happen, I need to suck up my pride and initiate conversations or accept invitations from other pastors. Marriage is no different. Hang out with couples. Initiate coffee, meals, game nights, double-dates, etc. with other couples so that you can be “in the room” with others. Sometimes we’ve walked away from couples feeling “normal” (which is huge when you’re feeling like you’re the only marriage facing a situation or season). Other times, if not most of the time, we talk away feeling blessed by friendship and/or having learned something about how we want to grow as a couple.
Look for the principle, not the method.
I learned something years ago that applies to this. “Methods are many, principles are few. Methods may change, but principles never do.” So the tangible/practical method that works for one couple may not “fit” you two. But the principle may fit. For example, Anne and I try to walk every Sunday as to talk about the upcoming week so we both are on the same page and know what to expect. The principle of developing healthy expectations is key, but the method may not work for you. So take the principle and make it work for your marriage.
Be willing to share.
Don’t hoard what you learn. If God has blessed you with some simple methods that have blessed your marriage, share that blessing with someone else. You are blessed to be a blessing. One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 10:8,
Give as freely as you have received!
When you’ve discovered a new “pro tip” in your marriage, don’t be shy about it. Share it. In a world where it’s “cool” to criticize and shame openly, we need people who are willing to share and encourage. Who knows, alleviating someone of a simple irritation can enable productivity and feed passion.
Over the years, I’m thankful for a number of “pro tips” couples were willing to share.
- Get a king-sized bed but put twin sheets and blankets under the comforter. That way, nobody hogs the huge sheets/blankets because everyone has their own.
- Rotate who chooses what to do on date nights so both people feel value and enjoyment.
- Share your Google calendars with each other so that you both can see each other’s schedules and properly forecast a proper pace of your family.
- Re-evaluate each other’s love languages whenever your season of marriage changes as, it may be possible, your love languages have changed.
- Make sure intimacy is scheduled as to make sure it stays on your radar and remains a priority for the both of you.
- Look for resources that fit each other’s personal growth without forcing one or the other to do what doesn’t “fit.”
Do you have any “pro tips” to add? What do you and your spouse do that has helped get rid of some simple frustrations? I’d love for you to leave a reply with a host of them.
Love you all. Praying for you as you get “in the room” with other couples and let the “pro tips” fly.
Thanks for letting me ramble…