I suppose that you’re expecting to hear the same old, same old things like having a weekly date night or never going to bed angry in order to have a strong marriage. Well, there have been PLENTY of times that we have gone to bed, not exactly feeling the most loving toward each other, and with having four kids nine and under, date night was the last thing I wanted to do!!
Without further ado, here are a few things that keep our marriage strong…
1.Compromise (Preserve US)
One of the best speakers that I have heard on Marriage, Dr. Richard Marks, has a concept called US. In a marriage, he believes that sometimes you need to compromise and do things for the other person so that the marriage (US) is sustained. In his case, he goes to the mall with his wife because it’s something that she likes to do. He does it for “US.” In our case, my hubby LOVES to be outdoors doing anything…walking, sitting, scooping the dog doo, trimming trees, etc. I don’t enjoy the outdoors as much, but I try to make a point to walk with him, or sit outside with him. He, on the other hand, is sweet and will walk through model homes or the aisles at Target because he wants to preserve US.
2.Live within your means (financial stress is a top marriage stressor)
Financial stress will not only keep you awake at night, but it can certainly ruin your marriage. Thankfully, we had parents that taught us to be conservative with our money and to avoid debt. Yes, it stung a little when we had our first child and we were living in a super small home and many of our friends were buying big, beautiful new homes that had all new furniture, while we had nice, simple hand me down furniture from relatives- and we were thankful!! My best advice is to talk about big purchases and come to an agreement on price and timing.
3.Communicate (agree on big decisions, connect during the day, be respectful with words, have clear roles, know what makes them feel loved)
When I feel that we’re “off” in our marriage, I’m usually the first one to notice it, and it’s usually a lack of communication that I’m feeling. When our kids were young and I was at home with them all day, I felt alone and separated from the world. It was amazing how a simple phone call home from my hubby mid-day could cheer me up and let me know that he was thinking of me!
At the beginning of our marriage we had a talk about expectations and our roles in the marriage. Who would be the one to pay bills, who would cook, who would cut the grass, who would do the laundry, etc. ? By communicating these things, we work better as a TEAM!!
We’re respectful with words. He does a better job at this than I do! When we have a disagreement, I tend to be more impulsive (passionate) and say how I feel and sometimes step on toes and hurt feelings- I need to work on that! Our words can either give life or tear down.
Communicating love to each other builds our marriage. If you haven’t read the 5 love languages book, it’s a must read. After reading the book, I learned that words of encouragement are a huge deal to him. I can buy him things all day, but what he really needs to feel loved is a simple, heartfelt phrase of encouragement and respect. For me, a hug or a simple touch fills my love tank!! More info HERE.
4. Time together, Time apart- freedom to be independent
Being together 24/7 is great when you’re first married, but as you grow within your marriage, things change. For instance, my hubby LOVES golf and I don’t. Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we have to love the same things. (do you feel relief from me saying that??) I’m happy that he gets the time to get away and golf for a few days in warmer weather when it’s cold here in WI! He comes back tired but happy! He allows me to make purchases for our home or take a day to shop at the mall without any guilt about money! Once again, I come back tired and happy!! It makes us both better people to explore the things we love!
5. Protect our relationship with boundaries ( riding in a car, lunch with opposite sex)
Because we know that there are many temptations in this life, we have set up some boundaries in our marriage to protect us from getting even close to crossing the line. A couple of guidelines that we follow are that we don’t ride in the car alone with or have a meal with the opposite sex. I know in many marriages this is impossible, but for us, it is do-able. It has happened a few times by accident on my part and it made me feel very uncomfortable. These boundaries have nothing to do with trust, but have everything to do with protecting our marriage!
***I would be remiss to say that our marriage is strong because we are just two people that are committed to each other. We both are Christians and are striving to be more like Jesus every day- gentle, generous, loving, loyal, patient, etc. When we look up and focus on God, (our marital glue) He will help make us each better people and be better unified in marriage.
What do you find is an essential in your marriage?? Please let a comment- I love to read your comments!!