My husband and I married young. We didn’t know a thing about how to have a healthy marriage but we did know we needed to figure out how to make it work. So we took every marriage class at church, read every book we could find on building a great marriage and went to marriage conferences- I mean we did whatever we could do to get a grip on our relationship. Even before we got married, we spent every weekend of our senior year in college being counseled by our pastor. I remember at one point he realized how very different we were and said something like, “don’t worry, opposites attract.” Yeah, that’s easy to say but for any couple who has been married for more than a day knows, it’s not that simple.
In spite of ourselves and by God’s grace, we have managed to not only survive 28 years of marriage but more importantly to thrive in it! We have discovered three habits, that if you apply them consistently, it will lead your marriage on the path to victory and as a result will thrive too!
- HOLD ON TO HOPE.
I read recently that research has shown that the common denominator between marriages that survive and those that fail is hope. Couples who believe that they can and will make it, do. Attitude is everything!
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,
“…blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit.”
Believing in God’s promises and in each other will go a long way in keeping your roots strong and healthy.
- FILL THE GAP.
Early in our marriage, we got into a fight. I don’t even remember what it was about but I do know that I was very upset with my husband. I wanted to be comforted by him but I sure wasn’t putting off that signal. As a matter of fact, my body language indicated quite the opposite. I was a porcupine! My husband actually tells it like this:
“I knew I needed to go over, hold her in my arms and ask for forgiveness. But her body language was saying: “don’t you dare come near me!” So I didn’t. I mean, the last thing you want to do is make things worse, right?
In that moment, although I knew she loved me and that holding her was the right thing to do, I wasn’t acting like I believed it. I needed to believe the best in the situation and push out any lies in my head that were saying otherwise like, ‘she doesn’t want you, leave her alone.’ The reality is Beth loves me even in the middle of a fight. I needed to stand on that truth and fill in the gap between what I thought she wanted and what I knew she needed.”
Lesson to be learned- jumping to conclusions only does harm. In moments like these, it’s up to both parties to take a risk and fill in the gap with trust.
- SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
The little things we do can really matter to our spouse but often we don’t know what those things are. If you take the time to learn them and put them into practice with each other you’ll begin to feel and believe that your spouse truly cares about you.
The early years of our marriage were spent in frustration in this area. Dave would come home from work and I would have dinner ready. As soon as we finished eating he would start cleaning up the kitchen, washing down the counters – I know some of you would DIE for this! And I was truly thankful, but what I really wanted was for him to sit and talk with me for a few minutes. I needed quality time. He thought he was showing me love but I thought he didn’t’ want to be with me. You can see how this would cause a strain!
Once we discovered how one another receives love and were intentional to express those small acts of love every day, what a difference it made in our marriage. Dave still cleans the kitchen for me and I know I’m blessed – but now he does it only after he spends a few minutes of quality time talking with me!
- Ask each other – “What is my attitude toward marriage?” “Do I really BELIEVE in us?”
- The next time you have an argument – be intentional to push out any lies that may pop into your mind. Remind yourself – my husband/wife loves me even in this moment.
- The small things really do matter – as a couple, talk about the things that make you feel loved and then sweat it out every day to show love in a way that speaks to your spouse.