This June 1st Jon and I will have been married 29 years and been together for 32 years. While we have experienced our share of ups and downs, I’ve come to realize that by investing in our marriage we have fewer breakdowns.
We landed ourselves in counseling back in September 2008 because we were not practicing some of the advice we recommend to others. It had been more than 5 years since we had a marriage tune-up. We were three years past due.
Consider how often we take our cars in for tune-ups and adjustments especially when they start to show signs of breaking down. By doing the scheduled maintenance, vehicles tend to function well. The same principle goes for marriages.
Jon and I unknowingly began to drift apart as he was extremely busy with starting a company; as a new love is always exciting. I threw myself into mothering, home schooling, and ministry. Even though we did not argue and outwardly our marriage seemed ok, inwardly I was lonely and we were distant.
I had been suggesting we seek professional help as our marriage has been through numerous trials. However, it wasn’t until our eldest daughter approached her dad that he saw the severity of neglect. She shared with him how she did not see us loving each other and feared we were on the road to divorce. Rarely did she notice us holding hands, kissing, laughing, and going on dates, etc. In short, the older girls did not see joy so our marriage was not bringing glory to God.
Working through personal hurts and acknowledging the pain we had caused to each other allowed us to experience more love and peace. We are more relaxed and gracious to one another because we sought help. This ongoing investment we are making, God willingly, will bear fruit to a legacy our girls can be proud of.
These days we share with couples via home groups, pre-marital counseling, and one-on-ones the truths we have learned as it’s best to learn from others mistakes. The following are helpful tidbits we have gleaned over the years:
- Be 100% committed to your marriage. Adopt the attitude that there’s no way out but the grave.
- Never use the D word = divorce. When divorce is not an option you tend to seek help.
- Be intentional. The more you are willing to invest in learning the more you will get back. Make your marriage a priority.
- Protect and prioritize time together.
- Be committed to your personal growth (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
- Invest in your marriage. We all need a good tune-up from time to time. We purposed to participate every other year in one of the following:
- A marriage conference or seminar.
- Read a book on marriage together.
- Read aloud a daily marriage devotion.
- Participate in a group or class study related to marriage.
- Find an older/wiser couple to mentor us.
- Preventative maintenance is less costly than legal fees. Don’t let pride or your ego get in the way of asking for help. Godly counsel with accountability is invaluable.
- Money issues cause more problems in a marriage than anything else.
- Maintain short-term memory when it comes to offenses. Be willing to forgive as God has forgiven you.
- Be slow to become angry.
- Assume the best in each other.
- Remember your spouse is not the enemy. You are on the same team.
- Realize that your marriage goes through various seasons. When you come through hard times you have a greater appreciation for the good times.
- Date your spouse. It’s important to have weekly dates and occasional weekend get-a-ways without children!
- Have fun together. Remember, laughter truly is the best medicine.
- Learn and don’t assume you know your spouse’s intimacy or emotional needs. This is key in communicating love to each other.
- Learn how to express love to each other by knowing their love language.
- Listen, listen, and listen some more when talking with your spouse. Men, don’t try to fix things right away when your wife comes to you with a problem as they often just want to be heard. Women, when men come to you with a problem they usually are looking for a solution.
- Look at the heart not just the delivery of information being conveyed.
- Reflect or mirror back what you hear being said to be sure you heard it correct. “So I heard you say ________________.”
- In regards to sex, men tend to be like a microwave oven and women tend to be more like a crock-pot.
- Romance comes and goes. Friendship is forever and you married your best friend.
- Treat your spouse as you would your best friend, only better!!
- Find some hobbies to do together. We personally enjoy walking and talking. Also, let each other explore individual interests.
- Pray together.
- Greet each other with a kiss as each day begins and ends.
- Lavish your partner with love and grace.
- Accept and don’t try and change the other. If they need to change, God will take care of that.
- Be each others loudest and proudest fans.
- Don’t use the words “you always” and “you never”
- Express gratitude daily.
- We really need Jesus.
Well there you have it, everything you need to know, less a million other tidbits.
Now it’s your turn. What would you add? Please do share.