My husband and I are creeping up on being married for almost a decade now, and it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. We have had our “for better or for worse” times for sure, but it doesn’t mean that we have a horrible marriage. I’d say we have experience and knowledge to know how to be happy and properly function as a healthy married couple. And with so many impending weddings on our schedule this year, it got me thinking about what has helped our marriage get by these years. There is no formula that fits every marriage to make it work, but there are few key things that hold true no matter the different personalities of each couple. My husband and I did some talking about what advice we would offer a newlywed couple, or couple that was having some rough times. This is what we found keeps our marriage happy, and help get us through less pleasant times.
1. Have a different idea of date night. When Steve and I got married, I already had my oldest and we were expecting. So it wasn’t always easy to have time alone together, but we would take some time to get out of town and enjoy each other. Now, we own a business, have 4 boys, and I homeschool, so that leaves a sliver of time we can spend together and even less time to go out on dates. Couples still need time to learn about each other, enjoy each other, and have time where it’s just them. It’s easy to say that couples need time together, but there simply isn’t a time when life and kids are pulling constantly in different directions. I love my kids with every fiber of my being and my life normally revolves around them, but sometimes I forget that I wouldn’t have them without my husband. And how wonderful my husband is that he encourages me to embrace my kids and be that mom I desperately try so hard to be. But he needs me too. With all that being said, we have had to reinvent date night. We don’t try and designate a day or time for our dates, we simply try and take advantage of any alone time that we find ourselves having. Sometimes it is when the kids go over to grandma and grandpa’s house, others it’s when all the kids are in bed and we sit with our bowls of dessert in bed talking about whatever we want to. Just because we can’t go out to have a nice dinner, doesn’t mean we stop dating. It simply means we have found a different way to make dating each other fit in our busy schedules.
2. Be the first to say sorry-no matter who’s fault it is. This is something that my husband and I developed just a few short years ago and it has saved us from making a mountain out of a mole hill. It has turned into somewhat of a game at times, to see who will say sorry first. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what sparked the argument, the main thing is that we don’t dwell on it and start building up animosity towards each other. It takes a humble spirit to apologize first, and the other person will understand that. Being the first to say sorry, gives the other person the opportunity to apologize without feeling obligated to it.
3. Forgive and drop it. This is my best advice for newlyweds. During our marriage, we have had our individual pitfalls and we have hurt each other in all sorts of ways. I could easily bring up mistakes my husband has made over the years that has put our marriage in the danger zone, and he could easily do the same with me and my blunders. However, if we just constantly brought up each other’s past mistakes, it would lead to a very unpleasant marriage, and worse yet the ‘D’ word, Divorce. During any argument you may have with your spouse, remember not to bring up what they did that upset you five years ago. If you have already told them you forgave them over X,Y, and Z, then there is no need for you to continue to hold on to that as ammo for your next argument. It gives them a chance to understand that the most important person in their life will forgive them when they make a mistake, it also give you the opportunity to be calmer and more loving towards them. We all mess up sometimes, and some mistakes are bigger than others. But forgiveness is part of the healing process. I’m not saying that it comes right away, sometimes it does takes work. Though, once you forgive them you can both heal and move forward.
4. Trust each other. This is a biggie. If there is no trust, there is no strong foundation for you to build your life on. Sometimes we make mistakes that break the trust our spouse has for us, and that bridge is a very hard to rebuild. So if you establish your relationship on trust, and keep that as a basic foundational principal in your marriage it will succeed. It seems like a pretty simple rule to live by, but I know many marriages where one party was not 100% truthful with finances, or personal facts and the trust was instantly lost.
5. Respect each other, no matter the situation. This is advice for when you are having a “very loud discussion”. It is easy to let your emotions get the best of you when the anger starts to build up. And because you know EXACTLY which buttons to push to send your spouse over the edge, you will have to remind yourself not to “go there”. Why create an even bigger argument and say things that you will most definitely end up regretting? No matter what the argument is about, remember you HAVE to respect your spouse. When you start to disrespect your spouse, it will inevitably end up with them showing you the same type of disrespect. Remember those words of wisdom, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Well this most certainly applies here! When you show your spouse respect, they will return the same actions. I know that some will say, “but my spouse NEVER respects me!” and to that I ask, are you showing the kind of respect that you are expecting to receive? So if you are trying to improve this aspect of your marriage, try it out for a while and see if things start to turn around.
6. Be kind and loving, even when you don’t feel like it. This piggybacks on the last point. We don’t always have the best attitude towards our life long partners, and sometimes we just straight up get mad at them. The best way I have found to get over my anger towards my husband, and have a better attitude as well, is to smile and treat him kindly. It seems so simple, but when in the moment it is a lot harder said than done. This doesn’t just apply to when I’m upset, but also when I feel complacent or annoyed. The day to day of our lives aren’t always exciting and full of romance, majority of the time its filled with forgotten chores, exhausted bodies, and irritation. I don’t always WANT to be kind or loving. Especially when I get up in the morning and there are piles of dishes in the sink, peanut butter jar sitting on the counter and empty coffee pot. But on days where I dwell on how “horrible” my husband is, are days that I feel like a bitter old maid and I can’t even be around myself on those days. So I have vowed to myself that even if I am not feeling like the brightest ray of sunshine, I will try to “fake it till I make it” and be kind and loving towards my husband. He doesn’t deserve to be married to a grouch, even though he’s the only one who eats peanut butter in the middle of the night. 🙂
7. Remember your vows. I think it’s sad when people say their wedding vows with such love and good intention behind them on their wedding day, but when the bad times come they forget about them, or worse, throw them out the window. I remember loving my husband so much on our wedding day and in my heart I truly thought I will say these vows, and I mean them, but there won’t be any sickness till we are old, and what worse times could we possibly have? Well, within 10 years, we have faced A LOT of hard times, and sickness in so many different forms. During some of the darkest days of our marriage, I completely forgot about what I had vowed and promised before God. I was ready to wash my hands and move on from what I felt was a failing marriage. But God placed people and scripture in my life that kept me in my marriage. I look back and I think that had I walked away, I wouldn’t have the wonderful life I have now. I wouldn’t have my home, some of my kids, and worse yet, I wouldn’t have my husband. He truly is my best friend. I think about it now and I am so grateful that I had made the promise to stick it out ‘for better or for worse’. You can’t appreciate the sunshine until you get the rain, make sense? It’s hard when the times are tough and you feel like giving up, but the promises you made to each other are so important. Don’t let a time through a valley discourage you from continuing to move forward and working hard on saving your marriage. The both of you will get through it, and become stronger at the end.
8. Encourage your spouse. I feel like it is such a simple concept, yet because of its simplicity we forget to do it! Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader! No matter how far fetched and outrageous their dream or aspiration might be, encourage them along the way. It could be a personal accomplishment, like learning a new skill or finishing an already started project, or a financial dream such as starting a new business venture or changing careers. No one wants to start something that they are passionate about without having someone to support them along the way. I know that if my husband was not supportive of this blog, I wouldn’t be here posting this! And as we grow our goals may change and our passions lead us into new ventures, but no matter where the road may lead be there to encourage and support your spouse. There are some people out there that may not agree with the passion their spouse has and to those I say, SUPPORT THEM ANYWAY! Try understanding the WHY behind their passion, or try to get involved with helping them accomplish it. When you do things together it then becomes a joint goal, and his or her goal becomes and “OUR” goal. Who cares if no one else understands why or they don’t agree with your choices, you have your spouse and they have you. Otherwise, they will find someone else who is more than willing to be their cheerleader, and that is just a recipe for disaster.
There you have it! I can’t guarantee it will fix all your marital problems, but so far this has worked for us and helped keep our marriage a lot happier. Let me know in the comments down below if you have any tips for a happy marriage!