5 Habits We Started Early that Have Kept Our Marriage Strong
How do you get a strong marriage? Here are the habits that I believe have kept our marriage strong. Not perfect, but strong. Solid and built on trust, friendship and the power of the Gospel.
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?
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.
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 can you do today to make a difference in your marriage?
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I always feel closer to him after we have done a project together. Working on our house or in the yard or something. Something about the teamwork. We like to play board games or card games sometimes after the kids go to bed. Being competitive and a little flirty can be fun.
This week we are planning our adventures for the year. All of the places we will go and take our family. Talking about the future brings us closer also.
We love board games and card games! Oh I want to hear more about where you’re going! So exciting!
Love the encouragement, exhortation & reminders that comes from this site. When my husband and I got married 7 years ago we were also given the advice to never go to bed angry. I must say this was really bad advice for us. Perhaps it depends on the conflict, but we found that most of our conflicts happened at night when we were tired. Andersen we tried to reconcile something before bed we only ended up escalating and saying many hurtful things. We were more out of control emotionally when we were tired. So we started to simply say “I’m really tired right now and I’m not sure I can be safe, can we talk about it in the morning?” We discovered that many things we were upset or hurt about- after a good nights sleep- weren’t such a big deal anymore. Often we didn’t even remember by morning. For us, being tired was not a good time to work through things! However, along the same lines, the advice that did work for us was to not leave room for the adversary to get inbetween us. I heard someone say once that when you are laying in bed angry with backs to each other the devil I laying in the middle and smiling. Obviously not necessarily literally but point taken.So even when we are not resolved, I find I am reminded of that visual and no matter how angry I am it breaks my heart before God to help me not let the adversary feet between us and I scootch my back up to my husband or reach out and touch his foot with mine, some kind of connection. And he knows God is working on my heart.
we do find reading and talking through scripture together and praying together to be very powerful. We enjoy having fun together and playing together (not always easy with 3 kids 3 & under!) and, of course, making time to intentionally be intimate with one another on a regular basis.
I love that you commented because it brought up a very important point! I think there is a difference between going to bed angry and going to bed without resolution. We don’t always resolve conflict, but we do let anger subside and agree to discuss the next day. Thanks for commenting. Very important clarification! 🙂
These are great habits to work on. We practice all of them too, though I’m sure we could work on the third one more. It’s something that we can think goes without saying, but actually saying it is so helpful.
And hugging…YES. A good hug from my husband is SO helpful for me to destress and just reaffirm my security in his love and feelings.
One other really important habit is to be careful how you speak to about your spouse in front of other people. I don’t ever want to say anything disrespectful or belittling, even out of jest. (Likewise, I feel pretty awful if he ever (rarely) does). Also along the same lines, I don’t complain or “vent” about our disagreements or struggles to friends and family. I am tempted to do so sometimes, but thankfully the Lord usually keeps me from it. I remember that rather than giving air to my feelings to someone outside our home, I should first take them to the Lord (not saying it’s always easy). On occasion there are exceptions when I need to ask for counsel or prayer about something going on, but even then, it’s good to be careful not to portray each other in a negative light. And I only have 1 or 2 other people that I will talk to about problems.
Like you, we really try to keep “short accounts.” One way we do this is by periodically checking in with each other. Extended silences, an unexpected huffy response, a long day with no opportunity for conversation, and one of us will undoubtedly ask, “Are we ok?”
I have written about this on my blog in the context of our relationship with God: https://michelemorin.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/are-we-o-k/
Do we “heal our sins lightly” and assume forgiveness — from God or from a spouse — or do we value the relationship enough to probe a wound?
I love these tips. I am encouraged to be more intentional about implementing good daily marriage habits!
…And can I say, I’m kind of relieved you did not put “go on a date night once a week” on there? LOL. Marriages are so much bigger than date nights. Date nights are possible in some seasons of life, and kind of impossible in others.
Date nights won’t fire proof your marriage, and the absence of them won’t doom you. It’s more about the heart and the little things, like you said.