32 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Healthy

cherieVacation 2013 - Werner's 254

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:

  1. Be 100% committed to your marriage.  Adopt the attitude that there’s no way out but the grave.
  2. Never use the D word = divorce.  When divorce is not an option you tend to seek help.
  3. Be intentional.  The more you are willing to invest in learning the more you will get back.  Make your marriage a priority.
  4. Protect and prioritize time together.
  5. Be committed to your personal growth (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
  6. 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:
    1. A marriage conference or seminar.
    2. Read a book on marriage together.
    3. Read aloud a daily marriage devotion.
    4. Participate in a group or class study related to marriage.
    5. Find an older/wiser couple to mentor us.
  7. 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.
  8. Money issues cause more problems in a marriage than anything else.
  9. Maintain short-term memory when it comes to offenses. Be willing to forgive as God has forgiven you.
  10. Be slow to become angry.
  11. Assume the best in each other.
  12. Remember your spouse is not the enemy. You are on the same team.
  13. Realize that your marriage goes through various seasons.  When you come through hard times you have a greater appreciation for the good times.
  14. Date your spouse.  It’s important to have weekly dates and occasional weekend get-a-ways without children!
  15. Have fun together. Remember, laughter truly is the best medicine._MG_8195
  16. Learn and don’t assume you know your spouse’s intimacy or emotional needs.  This is key in communicating love to each other.
  17. Learn how to express love to each other by knowing their love language.
  18. 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.
  19. Look at the heart not just the delivery of information being conveyed.
  20. Reflect or mirror back what you hear being said to be sure you heard it correct.  “So I heard you say ________________.”
  21. In regards to sex, men tend to be like a microwave oven and women tend to be more like a crock-pot.
  22. Romance comes and goes.  Friendship is forever and you married your best friend.IMG_1756
  23. Treat your spouse as you would your best friend, only better!!
  24. Find some hobbies to do together.  We personally enjoy walking and talking.  Also, let each other explore individual interests.
  25. Pray together.
  26. Greet each other with a kiss as each day begins and ends.
  27. Lavish your partner with love and grace.
  28. Accept and don’t try and change the other. If they need to change, God will take care of that.
  29. Be each others loudest and proudest fans.
  30. Don’t use the words “you always” and “you never”
  31. Express gratitude daily.
  32. We really need Jesus.

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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.

Marriage Resources – Ministries, Blogs, Books, & More

Jon and I have worked hard to have a good marriage.  Many years ago we were challenged by a question asked, “Do others get a glimpse of Christ when they see your marriage?” We purposed to invested in our marriage over the years and thankfully the benefits have been tremendous. We will continue to invest as being proactive verses reactive is more effective.

Marriages are constantly under attack as there is the potential for so much good to come from marriage. It’s the foundation of our society and the first institution established by God. What happens in our marriages usually filters down to the rest of our lives and it greatly influences and impacts our children so invest in something that can positively impact future generations.

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Consider: 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.


Local Resources in Austin 


Great Commandment David & Teresa Ferguson

  • Intimate Encounters (book)
  • Never Alone (Devotional)
  • The Pursuit of Intimacy

Together in Texas provides free relationship workshops for singles, couples, parents, and teen. By attending you can receive the needed certificate to wave the fee of $60 for your marriage license.

Center for Relational Care (Counseling, Consulting, and Training) Jon and I have personal experience here. Back in 2008 we sough help and had great results.

Intensives Jon and I did an intensive in June 2009 and it was life changing for us.

The Austin Stone Counseling Center  provides gospel counseling.

Hyde Park Counseling Center offers biblically based solutions.

Chris Thurman Ph.D. Chris is a Psychologist, gifted biblical counselor and author.  I have gleaned much wisdom from his teachings and books.

  • The Lies We Believe
  • The Truths We Must Believe
  • If Christ Were Your Counselor
  • Self-Help or Self Destruction
  • The Pursuit of Intimacy

Gloo is a downloadable app for your phone to help strengthen your relationships through shared content. Try code 8c91

This Marriage advice from a divorced man is truly insightful


Various Ministries I’ve turn to for wisdom and biblical insight


Family Life Today

  • Listen to past broadcast (FREE)
  • Be sure to sign up for their FREE daily couples devotion on-line and romance tips for husbands
  • Weekend to Remember Conferences are two-and-a-half day weekend getaways held at hotels and resorts around the US. Jon and I have attended 4-5 of them here in Austin, Houston and in San Diego.
  • I Still Do Conference are practical, one-day marriage events where couples can invest and strengthen their marriage.  We’ve attended 2-3 of these in the past and I am so grateful that FLT is again providing them.
  • Love Like You Mean It Cruise is a five-day cruise loaded with top notch Christian authors and speaker as well as musicians.  This year The Austin Stone’s Jimmy McNeal is one of the performers.  Jon and I did the cruise back in 2012 and highly recommend it.

BOOKS

  • Staying Close: Stopping the Natural Drift Toward Isolation in Marriage
  • Moments with You, Daily Devotion
  • Moments Together For Couples is a wonderful devotion we give our married couples.

Focus on the Family

  • What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women
  • Listen to their past or recent broadcast.

Love and Respect Dr. Emerson Eggerich

10 Great Dates by David and Claudia Arp

  • No Time For Sex – The Arps share five secrets to help time-deprived lovers recapture a five-star love life, including tips for boosting energy and finding time away from the kids. Intimate, frank, and down-to-earth practical, this book is a must for today’s harried married couples.
  • The Connected Family

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott  Subscribe to their weekly devotion and get The Ultimate Guide to Crazy Good Sex for FREE!

America’s Family Coaches Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg

  • The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women
  • Serving Love workbook
  • 40 Unforgettable Dates With Your Mate

Bienvenu Counseling Services

  • Married Happily Ever After?
  • Conflict Resolution tapes
  • Golf and Marriage

Smalley Institute with Dr. Gary Smalley

Shaunti Feldhahn

Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Today OnePlace.com is the leading provider of Christian audio content on the Internet. Here’s what that means for you:

  • Listen to your favorite Christian broadcasters, such as James Dobson, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Dr. David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and many more any time, at your convenience!
  • Browse the list of ministry programs offered.
  • Listen live to your choice of several Christian radio stations.
  • Choose to listen by specific topics or hear many compelling answers to frequently asked questions.

Blogs on Marriage



Our Favorite Videos and Audios:



A Few Other Books to Read



Assessment Tools


  • For over thirty years, PREPARE/ENRICH has led the way in helping couples explore and strengthen their relationships.
  • Relational Needs Assessment this assessment can also be done using the Gloo App. which does the scoring and keeps your top three relational needs recorded.
  • Emotional Needs Questionnaire designed to help you determine your most important emotional needs and evaluate your spouse’s effectiveness in meeting those needs.
  • Discover your Love Language 
  • Personality Test Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality.  
  • Personality Plus Test Although people are unique, Florence Littauer suggests they fall under one of four personality types. These are choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic.

Bottom line, there are so, so many resources available if you are interested and seek to invest in your marriage.  I have listed most of what Jon and I have personally benefited from.  Please share any resources that have been particularly beneficial to you and let me know why. I plan to update this list quarterly and will add to your suggestions.

Blessings!

Mothering, Impacts the Life of Others

Over fifty years ago God ordained my time, place, and gave me a Mother as seen in Psalm 139: 13 You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb

I am extremely grateful for the bravery of my mom who chose life as today I realize her decision created a difficult road for her.  Her choice allowed me to have a place in this world.

Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” These are my sentiments as I know the road I’ve traveled has allowed me to be who I am today.  

When one spells mom upside down, it spells wow.  Indeed being a mother is wowful 😉 I am thrilled to have my mom here in Austin this week so I can celebrate Mother’s Day with her. Grateful for her love and support in my life.  It beautiful how our relationship has grown over the years. I love you dearly.

MymomandI

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you for being here so we can celebrate with you.

I have one biological sister and a step sister.  I appreciate how God has knitted our hearts closer together as we have grown and matured.  My mother’s mom in the generational photo is no longer with us but is not forgotten on this day of remembrance as without her, well there would be no mom or me.

July 12, 2012 I became a spiritual mother to my sister 😉 when she accepted Christ. It’s been a blast to watch her love for Christ increase. I’m so proud of her.

As a family normal is totally overrated.

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My mother, sisters (Francois & Alyce) and four generations shown.

When I met my husband, the unexpected gift I was given was an incredibly generous, accepting mother-in-law.  I am madly in love with her only child, my husband, Jon. Thank you for always being there and for loving me like your own. If you weren’t my mother-in-law I’d choose you as my friend.

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Thank you for raising the man of my dreams and accepting me into your life.

One of my greatest callings and blessings has been being a mother to Cayley, Courtney, & Caryn.  Indeed children are a gift from the Lord and I am so thankful for my gifts.

Having two independent adults I am amazed that they have become my best friends. I only wish they lived in closer.  I have learned so many truths from Caryn and Courtney as their lives are a living example of what it truly looks like to have a thriving relationship with Jesus.  3 John 1:4 puts it this way, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

Motherhood has been the most incredible job that God gave me to do. It has been through the task of bringing up my daughters that I have matured and learned to love abundantly, to be selfless, and gracious. Oh I still have much to learn as my youngest reminds me 😉

I thank God that He knew I was far from ready for the empty nest by blessing us ten years later with our Cayley.

I am so proud of who my daughters have become, are becoming, and how they make the world a better place to be. To the world, a child is only one person, but to a mother, her child is the world. 

It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest privledge of being called “Mother.”

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It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest privledge of being called “Mother.”

There have been many women who have graciously, laboriously, and lovingly invested in my life and for this I say thank you.  I am unable to adequately pay them back but I pay it forward by following your example of investing in others.

Me with some of my spiritual moms and those I am blessed to be a spiritual mom to.

From my experience, there are many who do not have a mother due to death or abandonment. Others have strained relationships or are geographically separated from their mothers.  Regardless, it has been my privledge to pour into the lives of women that God has brought into my life. I am grateful for the many ways God had made me a spiritual mother. It is a privilege to nurture and invest in the relationships of many college students, friends, and others over the years. I am in awe of those who have made significant steps toward Jesus as a result of God using me in their lives. It is an unspeakable joy to journey alongside others, helping them nurture their relationship with the Lord and experiencing more of his love in the process. The blessing of spiritual motherhood is the reminder that you are making a difference in the lives of others and they are loving and following Him. Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As women, we are called to both mother and to be mothered regardless of our age or what season of life we are in. 

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Our love to God is measured by everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.

It’s been said “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring: all of which have the potential to impact the life of others.”

May we all desire to deeply invest in others.