Marriage is a beautiful gift. It’s hard. Frustratingly hard sometimes. My husband and I see each other in our greatest times of need. We see each other at our best and at our worst. Everyday we wake up, committing ourselves to covenant keeping love. Each day we get the choice to die to self. We get to choose love.
My husband is my best friend. He makes me a better woman of God. Sometimes he’s the reason I go fleeing to my God, but more often than not, that fleeing is a flee of great thanksgiving.
My husband is my greatest earthly gift, and nearly seven years later, I’m still glad I said, “Yes!”
I love to remember that ordinary day he asked me to marry him. I can still vividly remember my roommate coming into my room where I stood in a red shirt and hair fresh out of rollers. She looked at me and told me I was beautiful. I smiled and told her I felt beautiful. I had no idea that by the end of the evening I would be betrothed to this man who made me want to be beautiful – inside and out.
The smiles. The comfort with which Mark and I talked and held hands that night and every night there after. I remember sitting at a red light the day after he asked me to marry him just staring at my finger, at the ring, pondering with wonder the meaning of this promise. A promise like no other I had ever made or will make again. That ring was and is a symbol of love. The love that lays down its life for another. A covenant keeping love.
Someone honked and I turned left onto what would soon be our street together. And now we’re many left turns and more along our journey. I’ve no idea what the future holds, but where he goes, I will go. His people will be my people. His God will be my God. There’s no going back.
When we got married, like all married couples, we created habits. Some good and some not so good that have required work to be intentional to break. But today I want to share the good habits we instilled into our marriage early that we still do today. Habits that I believe have kept our marriage strong. Not perfect, but strong. Solid and built on trust and friendship and the power of the Gospel.
5 Habits that We Started Early that Have Kept Our Marriage Strong
1. Go to bed at the same time.
It’s a rare night that we don’t turn in together. Going to bed at the same time has protected our marriage bed, schedules, and oneness. This is especially important now that we both work from home and set our own schedules. It’s easy to stay up late getting “one more thing done.”
2. Never go to bed angry.
Leaving unresolved conflict until the morning is never a good idea. The sun should never go down on our anger. We should leave no room for bitterness to take root.
Some nights this has meant that I’m holding my eyelids open in order to NOT fall asleep before we can resolve our issues. Sometimes this means we’ll be exhausted and cranky the next morning because we didn’t get enough sleep. But we are committed and resolved to never go to bed angry.
3. Tell each other often, “I am for you.”
My husband is my best friend and biggest cheerleader (and vice versa). I pretty much think Mark hung the moon. I really do. I think he thinks the same thing of me. Most days.
There are those days and those times though when we’re showing our ugly and one of us needs to bring sin to light. One thing that has helped us be more gentle and loving when bringing up correction, hurts, or frustrations is to be faithful to remind the other person that we are for them.
When hard things have to be said, it requires extra gentleness. It’s a lot easier to receive correction when you believe the other person truly has your best interests at heart – when you believe they are for you and not against you.
Being faithful to remind each other that we really are for each other has been so important in the growth of our marriage.
4. Talk frequently about expectations.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I believe 99% of our conflict (or hurt feelings) has been a result of unmet expectations.
Too often I believe that Mark can read my mind, especially when it’s something we’ve talked about before. He should remember, right? Wrong.
If I want, need, or desire something, I need to be forth coming with that information. It’s unfair to my husband when I expect him to just KNOW he should fill my stocking at Christmas when the years before we didn’t do stockings at all. It’s unfair to expect my husband to help with the children just because I sent him an invite on our shared calendar for my hair appointment an entire month in advance.
Talking frequently and regularly about our schedules, needs, and desires and what we expect in situations has really been the key to communication for us.
5. Hug often
It’s the little things. It really is. Even if your love language is not “touch” (as mine isn’t), hugging often just reconnects us as lovers and not just roommates. Touch. Regular touch (outside the bedroom) is key to staying connected throughout the day for us.
Good marriages don’t just happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if they did? Marriages that bring glory to God take work and a whole lot of grace. Instilling good habits is a good place to start.
What about you? What do you and your spouse do to keep your marriage strong? What can you do today to make a difference in your marriage?
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