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Monday, January 20, 2014

Five Ways to Grow a Strong Marriage

1. Turn off the TV
 … and the Wii, and the Playstation, and the iPod touch, and Pinterest, and Facebook, and Angry Birds…

My Hunky Hubby and I had an after-work routine. We came home, ate supper and watched TV, then I’d do some chores around the house, then watch some more TV, then I’d get out the computer and go on Pinterest while still in front of the TV, and then I’d fold some laundry and put it away during commercials, and then we’d go to bed.

We’re tired! We work demanding jobs!

But honestly? Watching too much TV sucked the life out of us! Yes, it’s easy, and yes, it can be a great way to unwind after a hectic day… but too much TV can seriously damage a marriage. Not only was I grumpy about somehow never accomplishing anything, but I found that after a couple weeks of that routine, I was much more excited to sit in front of a season of “Last American Cowboy” than I was to talk to my husband.

When we took the time to turn off the electronics, we realized (surprise, surprise) that we have fun together! And that’s one reason we got married in the first place, right?

2. Sex
There’s a reason God designed for sex in marriage. It brings us closer together.

I can only speak for myself, here, but as a woman, sometimes I really am just not.that.into.it. I’ve got ninety-million other things circling around in my head, I’m busy, I have to get up early in the morning to get x, y, and z done… and besides, if he wanted sex, maybe he should have helped clean the kitchen!

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in my own life, though. When I put off intimacy with my husband, even just for a week, I’m grouchy. I nit-pick my husband about insignificant things, and I somehow find my perspective changing from “We’re In This Together” to “I Do All the Things, and You Do Nothing and It’s Not Fair.”

Taking time to make intimacy a priority in our marriage glues us together in spirit, and keeps us running smoothly. I read somewhere once that so often, we see sex as the icing on the cake of marriage, but in truth, sex is the oil that keeps the engine of our marriage running strong.

3. Look for the positives and don’t sweat the small stuff
Oh, how easy is it for me to look at my husband and pinpoint his every little sin, his every selfishness, and each and every flaw in his character. And truly, it’s not even always a sin on his part- sometimes it’s just a silly habit or personality trait that simply bugs me.

It’s so important to see not only the negatives in my husband, but also to seek out the positives. Yes, he may frequently be late getting home from his Bible Study, but that’s because he really cares about the guys in his group- even to the extent of fixing a group member’s snow blower after their study is over.  

There are things about my spouse that bug me, but they really aren’t worth bringing up. Sure, the used tissue he left on the bedroom floor is gross, but is that really something to nag him about? Is it something that I would like to have pointed out if it was my mistake?

Of course, there will be times in a marriage when it’s more than just a tissue on the floor or being late coming home from Bible Study. Marriages are relationships that are affected by Real Life, and Real Life has some big issues. When you’re confronting your spouse about a big issue, speak the truth in love. The truth may very well be, “This is not okay,” but address it from a place of love, not of anger. That may mean that you wait to bring up a problem (even when you want to talk about it RIGHT NOW), and it may also mean that you pray about it first.

But remember, not everything is big stuff. If it’s small stuff, it’s often better just to let it go and find the good.

4. Marriage Retreats
How often do we get the chance to sit down, as a couple, and put some work into our marriages? Marriage is one of the most important relationships of our lives, and it’s one relationship that, God willing, we’ll be a part of for the next sixty years or so!

Even if you’re awesome with #1, have a great #2, and are doing well with #3, it’s still hard to put focused, directed time into a marriage relationship. For one thing, where do we start? That’s where marriage retreats come in. A marriage retreat can give you the tools to talk about and start working on your marriage relationship.

There seems to be this stereotype that marriage retreats are only for people whose marriages are struggling. While some retreats are for that, there are tons of retreats out there, and every marriage needs some retreat time!

First- they’re fun! A retreat is just that- removing yourselves from daily live and all the demands on your time, and simply focusing on each other. My husband is hilarious and super fun, and I need time (away from all the laundry, and work, and my family) to really enjoy being with him!

Second- a retreat is a great way to find a support system. It’s so important to know that you’re not alone. Marriage can be so tough, and finding other couples with similar values who have decided to walk the walk of a solid marriage will give you and your spouse the encouragement you need.

Third- retreats often give you tools. I know that for my husband and I, this was so important in our marriage. You see, we have “the argument.” I’m sure you’ve got one of those- that one argument that keeps coming up, no matter how many times you discuss it. The thing is, “the argument” kept surfacing because we never really dealt with it- we didn’t know how. It wasn’t until we went to a marriage retreat that we were given the tools to actually figure out the issue, rather than just yelling (me) and withdrawing (him) and not getting anywhere. It was a turning point in our relationship.

If you haven’t ever done a marriage retreat, talk to your church. Many congregations are part of an annual marriage retreat, or they may know of a couple great options for you to explore. I really (really) encourage you to try out a marriage retreat.

5. Seek God- together
Keeping God central in our marriage is a priority for Zeke and me, as it is for many, many couples. It’s a journey, though, and sometimes we do really well in our faith journey together, and other times not so much. We really should be praying together, but we just haven’t done very much of that in our marriage yet. It’s something we’re working on. While we’re far from perfect (as you can see), we’ve developed a couple of habits that have helped us to seek God together.

First, we belong to a church and we are each involved in a Bible Study group. Our Bible Study is set up so that one week the husbands all meet, and then the next week the wives meet. While we’re doing different things in each of our studies, our spiritual growth is being fostered individually, and we can get excited and share what we’re learning with one another.

Second, we read devotions together. Zeke has an iPod touch, and he really likes a devotional app he found. I prefer the good ole fashioned devo book. We kind of alternate between reading the book and reading from the app.  

Linking up today with Messy Marriage and To Love, Honor, and Vacuum.

What are the “top five” ways that you’ve helped your marriage grow strong?


  1. This was a great list!! All EXCELLENT! Here are my five ways:
    1. Forgive him
    2. Dwell on his good qualities instead of his negative ones
    3. Spend time together . . . working, grocery shopping, and having fun.
    4. Have coffee and calendar dates -- just to make sure you are "on the same page."
    5. Remind yourself why you married him in the first place!

    Thanks for linking up for Marriage Monday!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment! Those are wonderful tips- especially #1!


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