Welcome back to the second week of “Healthy Relationships” month at Journey Principles. Last week I shared the first 5 of 20 Tips for a Healthy Marriage which included (1) Remembering You are on the Same Team, (2) Maintaining a Servant’s Heart, (3) Forgiveness, (4) Nurturing Your Friendship, and (5) Be Life-Giving. If you want to read last week’s blog in its entirety, you can access through the link below.
But, if you are all caught up and ready to roll, let’s check out this week’s tips for a healthy marriage!
6. Put Your Commitment on Display
Anyone out there in a marriage or been in a marriage where you felt like your spouse had one foot in and foot out? This guy has. Yep, that’s me raising my hand. There is nothing more frustrating than stepping into a marriage with the belief that you are in it for the long haul, no matter what life throws at you, and finding out your spouse might be willing to throw in the towel the second things get tough.
For those of you who may still be single or, perhaps, still in the honeymoon stage… marriage is hard! It is one of the most wondrously amazing experiences in this world, but is also one of the most trying, exhausting, and frustrating experiences too. When it’s done right, though. Man! There’s nothing like it! It’s like a roller-coaster. Yep! Ups and downs, twists and turns, hands up in the air screaming and laughing. Or, maybe weak legs, spinning skylines, and hurling your lunch into your baseball cap. Chances are that your marriage will have all of those occurrences. But you know what? Life should be the steamroller that you and your spouse ride together. If you or your spouse are the roller-coaster, chances are that your partner is going to get tired of that ride. Be committed! Put your commitment on display. No matter what life throws at you, let your husband/wife know that you will face it together, hand-in-hand. Marriage is built on trust and a lack of commitment by one or both of you makes your spouse’s job much, much harder than it already is.
“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.” ― Criss Jami
7. Celebrate Your Differences
God made us each unique for a reason. We have certain gifts and strengths, some similar to others, but we are still unlike any other person on this planet. And guess what? It’s supposed to be that way! Have you or your spouse ever said, “I think we are just too different” or “We don’t have anything in common?” I’m betting that at some point one of those two phrases has been uttered in your marriage. The truth is we are all different. Is “too different” a deal breaker for you in your marriage? I sure hope not.
My wife and I are different. VERY DIFFERENT! I’m kind of intense and serious. She is seriously funny. While I tend to rest in my faith, she has a worst-case-scenario personality. I can procrastinate. If she isn’t at least 15 minutes early then she considers herself late. I like TV shows and movies that challenge me intellectually. She just wants to watch something that is lighthearted and funny. Does that mean we are incompatible? Not at all. It means there is a lot of compromise, but more importantly, it means that we are stretched as individuals and as a couple. We challenge each other. We balance each other. Our strengths pour into each other’s weaknesses. We make each other better by recognizing and appreciating the ways that we are different. One of the most crucial pieces of advice that I can share with you in your marriage is to stop trying to change the person you love. If you truly love them, love them for who they are. I promise you, especially those of you whose relationships are still young, those little things that frustrate the mess out of you now are going to end up being the things you love most about your husband or wife. Those little differences will ink every important detail of your story.
“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” ― Ani DiFranco
8. Learn from Your Mistakes
Here’s another one that is easier said than done. It sounds so simple, right? Learn from your mistakes! Unfortunately, my wife and I both got a double dose of stubbornness from our parents. Oh, and our daughter, we most definitely passed on the quadruple dose, but that’s another blog altogether! Point being, we spent maybe the first 5 or 6 years of our marriage repeating the same mistakes, having the same arguments, taking the same selfish, destructive paths rather choosing to learn, to grow, to serve one another. Forgive and forget trespasses, but never lose sight of what was learned! And, be humble enough not just to learn from your mistakes, but from others. Glean wisdom from that older or more experienced couple. When you see a couple arguing in a store, take time to talk about it later. That may sound silly to some of you, but think about it for a sec… you and your spouse can discuss an issue that was created through someone else’s emotions. What does that mean? It means that, if you approach it the right way, you can have a rational discussion that isn’t charged with fear, anger, or hurt. That discussion might save you one, two, or maybe even 10 fights down the road. Also, it’s a chance to affirm each other! You might say things like, “I’m glad you would never use those words when speaking to me” or “I’m grateful you don’t approach conflict in that manner. Thank you for being a husband/wife that supports and encourages me.” Just keep growing, folks! Use any and every resource you can to better yourself and your marriage!
“If an apology is followed by an excuse or a reason, it means they are going to commit same mistake again they just apologized for.” ― Amit Kalantri
9. Demonstrate Gratitude
Everyone likes to be appreciated. It’s not just me, right? I love it, absolutely love it, when my wife tells or shows me how appreciative she is for all I do for her and for our family. The trick, however, is presenting your gratitude in a way that your spouse can recognize it. There’s this handy-dandy book by Doctor Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages. My wife and I have both read this book (and others by Dr. Chapman) and seen him speak and he has tremendous insight in relationships in general, but especially marriage. I recommend all of his books, but especially The 5 Love Languages which describes the five different ways that people express and receive love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. The amazing revelation about the love languages is that most people express love (and gratitude) the way they like to receive it. It’s what they desire so it’s also how they show it. However, chances are that your spouse’s love language is different than yours. So, long-story-short, you have to learn how your spouse receives love and gratitude. You may be focusing on spending quality time with them when what they need is words of affirmation. Take the time and do the work to figure out what helps drives your husband/wife. Then show them exactly how much you appreciate and are grateful for who they are and what they mean to you.
10. Remember What’s Important
Life isn’t about stuff! If you and your spouse are focused on acquiring things instead of building memories and planning experiences together for you and for your family, your focus is distorted. Are you spending more time “improving” your home than cultivating your marriage? Do you value your car more than you value your spouse? Will you work 60 or 70 hours a week, but are unwilling to put the work in that is necessary to have a thriving marriage? Life is about people and relationships. It’s not about stuff. The sooner you figure that out the better. But the reason that it is so important in a marriage isn’t just to recognize the value of your spouse and to concentrate on building your relationship, it’s also because the majority of arguments in a marriage are about finances and the sooner both you and your partner can focus on each other and not on stuff, the healthier your relationship will be.
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
I hope you have enjoyed Part 2 of 20 Tips for a Healthy Marriage. Remember that love is always worth fighting for and if you are experiencing problems in your marriage that there is nothing too big to overcome. Refocus your efforts and reframe your perspective. I promise you that a joyful, thriving marriage is just a choice away!
What are some conflicts you are experiencing in your marriage? Are there recurring arguments? Do you feel like you are not being heard or that you are the one who always compromises? Share your thoughts below in the “Comments” section or reach out to a life coach at Journey Principles now.