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However after almost 13 years, my husband and I have learned a few things (together and individually). But whenever I have the opportunity to offer marriage advice, I always blank. I don’t want to say cliche things like “communication is key” and “tell them you love them everyday” or “do something spontaneously nice”. I feel like everyone already knows all that (though it sure doesn’t hurt to be reminded). People have asked me, though, what I/we do to keep our marriage strong. Honestly, my answer has always been that it has more to do with God’s grace than anything else. Because if you know our story, you understand that the odds were stacked high against us from the very beginning.
I had just turned 18 when I got pregnant, and my baby daddy 20. We were too young, unmarried, living 7 hours apart, and scared. According to statistics, our future together wasn’t exactly promising. If you’d like to know more about that part of the story (especially if your situation is similar), you can read it here. ♥
We actually intended to get married right away. Basically we wanted a shotgun wedding, though we sure didn’t perceive it that way. Haha! My whole family (and pastor) understandably said NO WAY JOSE. Looking back, I can see their point. Obviously. It’s almost kind of funny. Almost, because at the time I was devastated. All we wanted was to get married and be a family. Needless to say I cried a lot. In front of everyone. All the time. (Those dang hormones!)
We were forced to wait. We ended up getting married when the babe was 6 months old, but the ups and downs started long before that. (for more about how we overcame those ups and downs, you may want to read this) Regardless, we were determined to get married, stay married, and make it work.
So how do you make a marriage work?
I don’t have a magical answer to that, but I do have a profound thing that I’d like to say. More recently I’ve come to realize that if I did have one personal piece of marriage advice, it would go like this: *ahem hem hem*, ready?…
I know, I sound soo smart don’t I? Allow me to try and explain myself.
If you had the rarest, most precious and valuable gem in the world, you would’t be careless with it. You would fiercely guard it. Or how about a multi billion dollar lottery ticket? You’d probably do everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t get stolen from you.
I wonder what the divorce rates would look like if everyone treated their marriage like that? Next to God, your marriage is the most important relationship in your life. Now, here’s the thing we need to remember – What God has joined together, the enemy will try to beak apart. If you’re feeling unloving toward your spouse, consider the fact maybe those aren’t even your own thoughts. Just maybe the enemy is whispering lies in your ear and just maybe you’re believing it. We were talking to one of our pastors the other day, and he reminded us of 2 Corinthians 10:5, “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
There is no one size fits all, because every relationship is unique. But these are some of the practical things my husband and I do to guard our marriage.
- First of all, before we got married, we received marriage counselling. This is often a prerequisite in most churches, and the service is usually offered for free. It’s just a smart thing to do to sit down with an unbiased person (or another couple) to help you prepare for a successful marriage!
- Continue the first step by attending seminars or retreats together. We have only done this a couple of times, and I know we should do it more because it’s always so refreshing and encouraging and lovely. The “Love And Respect” seminar was especially memorable. Normally the biggest problem with this is that it costs money, which I totally get! I promise you though that if you invest in your marriage, you’ll be so happy you did. If you just can’t, don’t worry! See the next option.
- Read uplifting and inspiring marriage books together. If one or both of you are not the reading type, listen to them together! It’s so easy to pop a disk in while your diving, and hey you might just love it. Check one one out at the library. Or go to Amazon.ca, it’s definitely one of the best places to buy cheap books and audio books (especially if you have Amazon Prime!!).
- Don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex. Just don’t even crack that door open. Leave it firmly shut and locked. Also, I’m just going to through it out there, being sober helps (not new information).
- Lastly, being a married person requires selflessness. I (like many people) tend to want to get my way. So this is literally something I’m working at every day. There’s a quote by Dave Willis (yes I’m a quote geek) that goes “Marriage is not 50-50; divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It isn’t dividing everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got!” Along with that, I would add that getting married requires courage (it’s literally a life long decision) and staying married needs a sense of humor!
It’s kind of a running joke in our family that my husband and I secretly think we’re Mickey and Minnie mouse. Watch this video if you could use a giggle 🙂
You know, it kind of bothers me how most people drone on about how much hard work and sacrifice it takes to stay married. That doesn’t sound attractive at all. Yes it takes work, so does baking a cake. If you want a really good cake, you’re going to have to actually put effort into it. But it’s SO worth it!
Anyone else want cake now?
P.S. There are so many brilliant bloggers out there who have wonderful and wise things to say about this subject. Crystal Storms, Katarina Taylor, and Carmen Brown are among my faves. I hope you go check them out, I’m sure you’ll love them!