Once every four years, we find ourselves using phrases like “Lutz” and “triple Salchow” …during the Winter Olympics when we all become experts in sports we watch exactly once every four years.
Imagine if figure skating pairs got on the ice and each did their own routine. It would never work. Not only would they never medal, but they’d be laughed off the ice. Everyone knows, that’s not how paired figure skating works.
It’s not how marriage works either, friends.
And yet day after day we pursue our own agendas and wonder why our marriages are not all that we’d hoped they would be.
Marriage is Hard
Marriage can be difficult. No doubt. But ask someone who’s been married into the decades (plural) and they will overwhelmingly tell you that it’s worth it.
The other side of difficult is worth it.
Anything that’s worth protecting, needs protection before it actually needs protection.
Did I lose you?
Think about a rancher…would it be wise to put up fences after his cattle had already wandered off? Not so much. Why do we think that putting protections in place in our marriage should be any different?
And yet so many of us are hesitant to even suggest that we invest intentional effort into our marriage because it might suggest that there’s something wrong.
Some of our readers have offered up some great advice that has helped them maintain a strong marriage. I’m excited to share it with you today, and hope it’s a blessing to you.
I’m also excited to share some really useful resources that Greg and I have used over the years. Like most marriages, we’ve had struggles and difficult patches. Finding ways to walk through them together and come out stronger on the other side starts with being intentional.
If you take nothing else from this, take this…be intentional. Great marriages do not just happen.
Read a Little…Talk a Little
So much marriage advice tells you to schedule time to talk with your spouse.
Not bad advice, but maybe you can relate with how this went with us. We’d invariably either sit and stare at each other, saying nothing; or else we’d talk about kids and household stuff. Not exactly deeply intimate conversation.
The one thing that really changed things in this area for us was finding books to read. You read something, you talk about it. Instant conversation. Many even have questions to spark talking.
The one we just finished last week is From This Day Forward. I really like this author, and have used his material to teach from frequently. He wrote this one with his wife, which is kind of cool.
Love and Respect was one that really changed the way we ‘do’ marriage. The idea that love and respect are both meant to be unconditional…not earned. Wow!
(Be sure to check below to see how you can win a copy of this book as part of the Strong Family Giveaway)
Someone gave us Dr. James Dobson’s couples devotional, Night Light, when we first got married. It made such an impact on us that we frequently give books on marriage to newlywed couples as well. In fact, we’ve gifted all three of these books over the years!
Dr. Gary Chapman has a book called Loving your spouse when you feel like walking away. It’s got chapters about how to cope with a spouse who is apathetic, controlling, disconnected, among others.
Since we just finished the one we were reading, our newest book is one that some friends recommended. It’s called You and Me Forever, by Francis Chan. We’re looking forward to digging in!
Advice for Success from Readers
I put the word out to send me your best marriage advice…things you wish you’d have known when you first got married…here’s a selection of what you sent. Good stuff!! I hope you find something that is encouraging, or challenging.
“Never go to bed angry (or at least resolve together to work toward a resolution in the morning.)”
“I have come to learn is that everything that I do is unto God, not my husband. If we both put Him first then everything seems to just go smoothly.”
“You can’t change people. Only God can.”
“Communication!!! And speaking my husband’s love language…”
” The tongue is a 2-edged sword. Always use the flat part of the blade, i.e., use your words for good, strengthening and building up.”
“We have been married for 14 years now and I am enjoying an amazing marriage but it was not always like that. I think that we wanted to please each other but things would go sour when we didn’t feel like it but now we understand that its not about a feeling. The commitment we made is to the Lord and with Him at the center, we cannot fail!”
“Grace is always appropriate.”
“Just because your spouse or your children didn’t clean it the way you wanted, doesn’t mean they didn’t do their best. Thank them. And don’t do the work again.”
“Anytime a prayer is being said, regardless of where you are, join hands with your spouse. At church, at home, at a family reunion, wherever prayers are being lifted to the Lord, being physically joined with your spouse strengthens your bond.”
“My spouse is not the enemy. Satan is the enemy of marriages that honor God. Reminding ourselves that our spouse is not the enemy while in the midst of conflict helps us to work together in a more loving and gracious way toward a resolution.”
“If going into a marriage with children be a part of their discipline…Things should be shared..good and bad.”
“Money arguments have nothing to do with money, they are a symptom of dysfunction. Look for the root and deal with it (resentment, distrust, disrespect, selfishness, etc.). How to deal with it? Pray together and respect one another. Do all you can to strengthen your bond. Proverbs 14:1.”
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
What marriage advice do you wish you had known when you first got married?
Giveaway winner–Rick. Congratulations!!
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