Part One: Her Tips
If I could sit down and tell my 23-year-old self a few tips to help her along this great adventure of marriage, I would sure have a lot to say! Marriage has certainly made me a better person as I have learned to love through the good and bad times.
Marriage has drawn me closer to my Savior as I have learned what truly trusting in Jesus is all about. My marriage has had its share of ups and downs.
Today, I can’t help but rejoice over my 20-year marriage and thank the Lord for the lessons I’ve learned and our love that’s grown deep roots when the storms of life hit. I hope these tips can help you keep your marriage strong.
1. Celebrate your anniversary every year!
Life moves at such a fast pace. The daily routine and the demands of parenting often leave little time to spend with our spouse. That’s why it’s so important that we make time to remember the reasons we got married in the first place.
My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary at a Bed and Breakfast. We loved it so much we decided to make it a yearly tradition. Now 20 years later, we enjoy reminiscing about each B&B and the special memories we’ve made skiing, zip lining, dancing, and exploring quaint little towns and restaurants.
Although it hasn’t always been easy to arrange childcare and leave the kids, it’s been well worth it! I know many moms really struggle with separation anxiety and have a hard time leaving their kids. I understand how difficult this can be. Believe me, as someone who struggles with fear, I always pray that God would bring us all together again safely. And He always has.
Marriage is full of ups and downs. The ups help carry you through the downs.
So whatever you can do to make your anniversary special (even if it’s a nice dinner at home or celebrated on a different day), the most important thing is that you have fun together, get away from stress and connect.
2. Learn how your spouse feels loved
Reading the Five Love Language, helped me understand how my husband feels loved. Ask your spouse to take this quick quiz and discover their love language. here:https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
My husband feels loved through acts of service. My primary love language is words of affirmation. It’s no wonder that we’ve had some difficulties!
I think it’s hardest for me to love through acts of service and hardest for him to love through words of affirmation. We both have to make a concerted effort to show love in the ways we both need.
That’s why the next tip worked well for us.
3. Learn to appreciate the way your spouse shows love to you!
We naturally show our love the way we feel loved. So, although the Five Love Languages teaches you how to love your spouse, I discovered you can turn that information around.
This has worked like a charm for me. Allow yourself to appreciate how your spouse loves you. I learned to feel loved the way my husband showed love! He shows his love through acts of service.
There are lots of ways my husband serves. He does most of the grocery shopping. When we first got married, I didn’t like this at all. But now, with four kids, I am so thankful that my husband does most of the shopping! My husband is a fireman and loves to cook awesome meals for us. He cooks even when he’s tired. He takes care of the finances and pays the bills. He works hard so that I can stay home with our kids. He’ll go out of his way to pick up medicine for me or get me take-out.
He calls me throughout the day when he’s at work just to say hi. These things really make me feel loved. I’ve learned to feel loved without having a lot of words of affirmation. But on special occasions, he always gets me a card and expresses his feelings in beautifully written words.
What does your husband do out of love for you? After 20 years, I took this quiz again, and I had a hard time choosing between acts of service and words of affirmation because I have sincerely learned to feel loved by the way he loves me. How does your spouse show you love?
Learn to appreciate the way your spouse shows love to you! Click To Tweet
4. Fight fair!
Early on, my husband and I learned that we are both pretty strong-willed. My name means “determined” and my husband is a type-A redhead. Need I say more?
So this might seem pretty obvious, but since we’re all adults, let’s not resort back to childlike behavior. No matter how mad you are, don’t add fuel to the flame. Walk away. Take a break. Don’t engage in an argument that you know will get nowhere.
Don’t try and raise your voice above the other person. Calm down. And absolutely no name calling, no throwing things and keep your hands to yourself! And sometimes to avoid that, you need to give yourselves some space in order to calm down and go to God in prayer. Sometimes a new day brings a new perspective and a changed, softened heart.
5. Let Christ defend you
Do you feel like you need to prove yourself in an argument? I used to feel devastated when my husband misunderstood me or thought I did something intentionally to bug him. I would take great effort to try and prove my good intentions to him. This probably stems from my past of insecurity and my desire to please others.
Once I learned to be confident in who God made me, I was able to stop defending my reputation and trust in God. Sometimes you just need to pull back and pray. Allow God to fight for you.
I strongly suggest the book, The Power of a Praying Wife!
This book really helped me through some difficult times. I saw God move in my heart and my husband’s through the power of prayer.
6. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt/assume that his/her intentions are good
Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Assume that his/her intentions are good. Click To Tweet
Did he really leave the toilet seat up again to irk me? I just told him to put it down. And there’s his trash again. Why can’t he throw away his own garbage? He must not respect me and all the work I do around here!
Did she really just leave the house with all the lights on? I told her that we can’t afford the bill! She must not respect how hard I work to provide for this family.
Oh, how we can let these things get the best of us! The truth is, our spouse isn’t intentionally trying to annoy us. But in order to stop doing the things that annoy the heck out of our spouse, we have to force ourself to be more aware and make an intentional effort to change.
7. Keep intimacy alive and fun
Don’t let your intimate life go to the wayside after children. Do your best to keep the spark alive.
Flirt. Go on dates. Be spontaneous. Kiss. Have sex!
8. Give your spouse space to have his/her own hobbies
Don’t smother your spouse. Maybe they are the type that enjoys a certain hobby that you aren’t the least bit interested in. Support them.
My husband enjoys road biking and mountain biking. He is a huge college football fan and loves Notre Dame. He goes to a game every year with his buddies. I enjoy blogging and working out. Remember to pursue your dreams and support one another. But make sure you put your spouse before your hobby!
9. Don’t keep a record of wrongs
Forgive much. Your spouse will sometimes break your heart. Forgiveness is required if we are going to make our marriages last.
Keeping a record of wrongs will harden our hearts and create a wall of bitterness that will only get higher and higher. Learn to respectfully communicate through each problem and try to understand your spouse’s point of view.
10. Seek counsel when you hit a rough patch
The Bible encourages us to seek counsel when we are struggling. Sometimes we just need the support of others to lead and guide us when we don’t know what to do, how to forgive, or how to change.
My husband and I started attending professional counseling both individually and together. I wish I hadn’t waited as long to get the help we needed. Don’t be afraid. God is for you. He is for your marriage. He can help keep your family strong!
I asked my husband to share his top ten marriage tips. Check out his post here.
Also, read the top 10 Reasons Why You Should Stay at a Bed and Breakfast for your Romantic Getaway
What tips would you give to keep marriage strong? I would love for you to add your tips in the comments below.
Valerie this is a great post! I love it all, I can relate to it all. Especially #5. The power of a praying wife is one of my favorite books! It is something I actually give out to newlyweds quite often. So important to pray for yourself, your husband, and your marriage from the very beginning.
Thank you so much for stopping by Carmen! The Power of a Praying Wife is such a great book!
Thank you Valerie for your time and encouragement to so many. You’re gifted. I’m one year into my marriage and although i don’t have children, identifying as a wife and becoming that “wife” has been a challenging wake up call. I want to sincerely thank you and encourage YOU for a minute. You’re touching hearts and pleasing God!
Kris, I really appreciate that you would take the time to encourage me! It means more to be than you probably know! When I was a newly married Christian wife, I went through a very difficult time adjusting to our differences. They say opposites attract but I found it almost impossible to know how to communicate and how to handle disagreements. Thankfully, the Lord worked in our lives and now our disagreements are few and far between. Hang in there. If both spouses are working to grow closer to the Lord, they can grow closer to each other. Congratulations on your marriage! Thank you so much for your kind comment!
I absolutely love this advice! Chauncey and I have a trip scheduled to Charleston for our anniversary next month. I’ve taken the 5 languages of love quiz, but he hasn’t, and I’m going to encourage him to. These are all wonderful things to do to help build and support a marriage:)
Hi Tif! I’m so glad you have a trip planned to celebrate your anniversary. It’s always fun to have a special date to look forward to!
LOVE this! It’s our 28th Wedding Anniversary TODAY (yay!), so I’m so happy to have stumbled across your blog 🙂 I can Amen to all of the above. The very best marriage advice we received right after we were married, was from a well-known speaker and author who told us to never come off our honeymoon. We clearly had just returned from ours, all starry-eyes and bronzed, and we took his words to heart. Yeah, life and routine and work and kids happen along the way, but keeping the romance alive and maintaining that “honeymoon” infatuation coupled with an ever-deepening love is priceless! Our daughter got married 2 years ago and I wrote a book— Pearls for the Bride, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to share my heart with regards to marriage. Apologies for rambling here… and thank you for your super tips! Your neighbour at Me, Coffee & Jesus 🙂
That’s so wonderful Laura! It’s great to hear that you are able to keep romance alive after 28 years. Congratulations on your daughter’s marriage and the wonderful book you wrote too!
Practical yet powerful message!
Thank you Susan!
Congrats on 20 yeas of marriage! Great marriage wisdom too! I especially like #6. I love that Jenny gives me the benefit of the doubt. I love knowing that she the best in me, and is cheering me on. I’m sure it’s not always easy to do, but this one–by far–means the most to me 🙂
Thanks Jed! It’s always good not to assume the worst about the ones who love us most!
I stumbled upon this post from Titus 2 Tuesday link up! Great post… I published a similar post yesterday on fighting fair, you might like it https://bit.ly/1OxOZNq
Great insights, Chhavi! I’m glad you stopped by.
Great tips! It’s nice to connect with you via #raralinkup! After almost 44 years of marriage, I can tell you these are all great…keep pressing in and leaning on Jesus.
That’s great to hear! Thank you for visiting, Loraine!
Great tips. Number 3 had been one I have struggled with over the years. I now know my husband acts of service are whispers of I love you. What does this quality time gal do? She joins him at the task. Win. Win.
That’s a great way to find time with your spouse! Thanks so much for sharing! Sometimes we have to be creative!
Wonderful thoughts here! I think #’s 6 and 9 are especially important. One tip I share sometimes is that each half of a happy couple believes that s/he got the better end of the deal. It’s dangerous ground when we start to think about how lucky our spouse is to be married to us! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us at Grace & Truth.
That’s a great tip, Jennifer! What a great way to view our spouse.
Valerie, I’m sitting in bed at my girlfriend’s beach house, the sun is rising and your my first read of the day in blog land. This is so good. I liked #4 especially. I needed to a little reminder of this one as I don’t always fight fairly with my husband. After 30 years of marriage you would think I’d have that one down pat. You reminded us ALL of some great tips here. And the getting away each year – a must.
I’m so glad you have a restful day at the beach! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m still learning to practice these tips as well, after 20 years. It’s a daily process of surrendering my own selfishness and pride. Have a wonderful time away!
This is so so SO good, Valerie! I am celebrating the victories in your marriage and what God is doing through both of you! I love all the tips, but particularly #5 – Let Christ Defend You! Amen! Sometimes we are so quick to defend ourselves that we don’t hear truth and we shut out the work of Christ in our relationship.
Sharing everywhere, friend!
Yes, so often we are quick to defend ourselves. Sometimes we don’t give God time to work in our heart and in the heart of our spouse. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing this, Lori!
I am learning to appreciate the way my husband shows love to me. It can be hard when I’d rather he do it “my way,” but marriage is all about laying down your life for your spouse. Thanks for a great post.
Marriage is hard work sometimes. Good for you for learning to appreciate the way your husband shows you love.
It’s gotta all start with prayer…
I’ve seen prayer work in mighty ways in my marriage! Blessings to you Andrea!
Love number 6! Never assume some one who loves you is going to hurt you.
So true Mihaela! Have a great weekend!
Love this! Great practical advice. Thank you!
What a great post, Valerie!
Love the practicality and help of this marriage post, and I think many others will as well!
God is going to use your message to bless many!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend~
I”m so glad you liked it Melanie. Have a great weekend!
Thank you! Loved these tips!
Thank you, Aly!
This is great!! looking forward to his side!
Valerie, these are great tips!! After being married for almost 20 years, I can tell you these tips are still helpful to keep a marriage strong. I think the longer your married, the more intentional you have to be about pursuing, loving and caring for your spouse. Blessed to be neighbors with you at Grace & Truth!
Hi Alisa, Congrats on being married for 20 years as well! As time goes by and kids enter the picture, we for sure need to be intentional about caring for our spouse and spending quality time with them.
Valerie- I LOVED THIS. So so good. I’m with Deb- I loved the “flirt” tip and I also loved “don’t keep record of wrongs”- brings tears to my eyes. Love you!
Thank you so much, Shannon! I love the posts you’ve written about marriage!
Yes! I agree with every tip! My two favorites are “flirt” and remembering to appreciate the way your spouse shows love. I always tell newlyweds to “never stop flirting.” It keeps things fun and fresh. And showing and feeling appreciation is huge. Great post, Valerie!
Being the wise woman that you are, I”m so glad that you agree with these tips, Deb! You are such a blessing!
Great tips! Thanks for this post. Liked your FB page as well!
Thank you so much, Kay!
Thanks for all you do! I hope you are feeling better with less pain?
Thank you, Linda! Your comment encouraged me. I’m feeling a lot better!