Part One: Her Tips
If I could sit down and tell my 23-year-old self a few tips to help her along this great adventure of marriage, I would sure have a lot to say! Marriage has certainly made me a better person as I have learned to love through the good and bad times.
Marriage has drawn me closer to my Savior as I have learned what truly trusting in Jesus is all about. My marriage has had its share of ups and downs.
Today, I can’t help but rejoice over my 20-year marriage and thank the Lord for the lessons I’ve learned and our love that’s grown deep roots when the storms of life hit. I hope these tips can help you keep your marriage strong.
1. Celebrate your anniversary every year!
Life moves at such a fast pace. The daily routine and the demands of parenting often leave little time to spend with our spouse. That’s why it’s so important that we make time to remember the reasons we got married in the first place.
My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary at a Bed and Breakfast. We loved it so much we decided to make it a yearly tradition. Now 20 years later, we enjoy reminiscing about each B&B and the special memories we’ve made skiing, zip lining, dancing, and exploring quaint little towns and restaurants.
Although it hasn’t always been easy to arrange childcare and leave the kids, it’s been well worth it! I know many moms really struggle with separation anxiety and have a hard time leaving their kids. I understand how difficult this can be. Believe me, as someone who struggles with fear, I always pray that God would bring us all together again safely. And He always has.
Marriage is full of ups and downs. The ups help carry you through the downs.
So whatever you can do to make your anniversary special (even if it’s a nice dinner at home or celebrated on a different day), the most important thing is that you have fun together, get away from stress and connect.
2. Learn how your spouse feels loved
Reading the Five Love Language, helped me understand how my husband feels loved. Ask your spouse to take this quick quiz and discover their love language. here:http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
My husband feels loved through acts of service. My primary love language is words of affirmation. It’s no wonder that we’ve had some difficulties!
I think it’s hardest for me to love through acts of service and hardest for him to love through words of affirmation. We both have to make a concerted effort to show love in the ways we both need.
That’s why the next tip worked well for us.
3. Learn to appreciate the way your spouse shows love to you!
We naturally show our love the way we feel loved. So, although the Five Love Languages teaches you how to love your spouse, I discovered you can turn that information around.
This has worked like a charm for me. Allow yourself to appreciate how your spouse loves you. I learned to feel loved the way my husband showed love! He shows his love through acts of service.
There are lots of ways my husband serves. He does most of the grocery shopping. When we first got married, I didn’t like this at all. But now, with four kids, I am so thankful that my husband does most of the shopping! My husband is a fireman and loves to cook awesome meals for us. He cooks even when he’s tired. He takes care of the finances and pays the bills. He works hard so that I can stay home with our kids. He’ll go out of his way to pick up medicine for me or get me take-out.
He calls me throughout the day when he’s at work just to say hi. These things really make me feel loved. I’ve learned to feel loved without having a lot of words of affirmation. But on special occasions, he always gets me a card and expresses his feelings in beautifully written words.
What does your husband do out of love for you? After 20 years, I took this quiz again, and I had a hard time choosing between acts of service and words of affirmation because I have sincerely learned to feel loved by the way he loves me. How does your spouse show you love?
4. Fight fair!
Early on, my husband and I learned that we are both pretty strong-willed. My name means “determined” and my husband is a type-A redhead. Need I say more?
So this might seem pretty obvious, but since we’re all adults, let’s not resort back to childlike behavior. No matter how mad you are, don’t add fuel to the flame. Walk away. Take a break. Don’t engage in an argument that you know will get nowhere.
Don’t try and raise your voice above the other person. Calm down. And absolutely no name calling, no throwing things and keep your hands to yourself! And sometimes to avoid that, you need to give yourselves some space in order to calm down and go to God in prayer. Sometimes a new day brings a new perspective and a changed, softened heart.
5. Let Christ defend you
Do you feel like you need to prove yourself in an argument? I used to feel devastated when my husband misunderstood me or thought I did something intentionally to bug him. I would take great effort to try and prove my good intentions to him. This probably stems from my past of insecurity and my desire to please others.
Once I learned to be confident in who God made me, I was able to stop defending my reputation and trust in God. Sometimes you just need to pull back and pray. Allow God to fight for you.
I strongly suggest the book, The Power of a Praying Wife!
This book really helped me through some difficult times. I saw God move in my heart and my husband’s through the power of prayer.
6. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt/assume that his/her intentions are good
Did he really leave the toilet seat up again to irk me? I just told him to put it down. And there’s his trash again. Why can’t he throw away his own garbage? He must not respect me and all the work I do around here!
Did she really just leave the house with all the lights on? I told her that we can’t afford the bill! She must not respect how hard I work to provide for this family.
Oh, how we can let these things get the best of us! The truth is, our spouse isn’t intentionally trying to annoy us. But in order to stop doing the things that annoy the heck out of our spouse, we have to force ourself to be more aware and make an intentional effort to change.
7. Keep intimacy alive and fun
Don’t let your intimate life go to the wayside after children. Do your best to keep the spark alive.
Flirt. Go on dates. Be spontaneous. Kiss. Have sex!
8. Give your spouse space to have his/her own hobbies
Don’t smother your spouse. Maybe they are the type that enjoys a certain hobby that you aren’t the least bit interested in. Support them.
My husband enjoys road biking and mountain biking. He is a huge college football fan and loves Notre Dame. He goes to a game every year with his buddies. I enjoy blogging and working out. Remember to pursue your dreams and support one another. But make sure you put your spouse before your hobby!
9. Don’t keep a record of wrongs
Forgive much. Your spouse will sometimes break your heart. Forgiveness is required if we are going to make our marriages last.
Keeping a record of wrongs will harden our hearts and create a wall of bitterness that will only get higher and higher. Learn to respectfully communicate through each problem and try to understand your spouse’s point of view.
10. Seek counsel when you hit a rough patch
The Bible encourages us to seek counsel when we are struggling. Sometimes we just need the support of others to lead and guide us when we don’t know what to do, how to forgive, or how to change.
My husband and I started attending professional counseling both individually and together. I wish I hadn’t waited as long to get the help we needed. Don’t be afraid. God is for you. He is for your marriage. He can help keep your family strong!
I asked my husband to share his top ten marriage tips. Check out his post here.
What tips would you give to keep marriage strong? I would love for you to add your tips in the comments below.