I can remember my wedding day like it was yesterday. I remember the feeling I had when I opened my eyes bright and early on April 16th. Getting ready with my best friends surrounding me, making sure every strand of hair and every stroke of makeup was perfectly placed, and perfectly done. The ride to the church I could hardly contain myself, and slipping into my wedding dress, my favorite piece of clothing I will ever own, that was one of the best moments of the day. But nothing could ever top that first glimpse of him, those blue eyes looking up at me, as I walked down the aisle, it was magic. It was everything I ever dreamed of and prayed for. The rest of the day was a blur, you know what I mean right? You try so hard to be so in the moment, but the moment is so amazing, intense, and overwhelming, it’s hard to take it all in. But then I remember catching my breath and replaying everything on the way to our honeymoon. He whisked me away to a week in the mountains, exploring, and enjoying our own private cabin. We were totally secluded surrounded by the forest, hiking trails, and…well…lots of spiders. If only I had time to tell you about the one morning we woke up to a giant spider in our room and how Griffin ran to the kitchen and poked his head around the wall while I jumped into action trapping the spider in the corner, killing it and like a hockey player using the broom, my weapon of choice, I shot it out the front door. If only I had time…
Then I remember coming back to our home, and starting our lives together. And that was not as easy as the wedding day and the honeymoon. See that’s where I think we sometimes lose sight. Marriage is not the end, it’s not something you check off your list, it is not something that you accomplish. Marriage is something you are constantly in, constantly working on, and fighting for and sometimes it is an all-out fight. And when I think about our marriage, and where we have come from since our first year, the things that used to get us upset and in a fight for a few days, have gone to only bothering us for a few hours then down to minutes, to now we catch them as they are happening and we navigate through them, and sometimes we stop them from even becoming an issue at all. But we had to work for that. We had to continue to be married, better yet we had to learn to be married. The man that I married on that perfect day is not a perfect person, but he is mine. And I have chosen and will continue to choose to love him, and understand him. And every day I say yes to him. I say yes to our vows we made, I say yes to giving him grace and I say yes to loving him unconditionally.
So here I have 5 tips. These 5 tips are small choices you can make on a daily basis to keep your marriage strong, healthy, and thriving.
- Grow Together – You will change. Who you are now, is not who you will be in a year. And who your spouse is will not be who they will be forever. You will experience things in your life that will change you. Relationally, financially, vocationally, all of these changes you will face will shape you, and it’s the growing together and it is giving each other the freedom to grow that is key.
- Keep Jesus Central – No matter where you are in your faith, God really wants to see your marriage be healthy and whole. He created marriage, it was His idea, His plan. So if you and your spouse can keep God at the center of your marriage, it won’t collapse because it will be built on the foundation it was designed to be formed upon. He is essentially the manual to marriage.
- Listen to Understand – It is so easy in the middle of an argument, to stop hearing your spouse. You have your mind made up, you know what you want to say, or to prove and you are ready for him to stop talking so you can get your point across. One of the biggest steps in my marriage has been listening to understand each other. My husband and I are so different. We think differently, feel differently, process differently, I mean we really couldn’t be more opposite. But the grace, the gentleness and the humbleness that comes when you choose to listen to understand your spouse will help you navigate through the toughest conversations.
- Choose Marriage Values Together – Having values as a couple or a family are essential to being grounded and to making decisions throughout your lives. When you are trying to make a decision, you can go back to the values that you and your husband have chosen, and looking at those will help navigate you through those tough moments. For instance, this year one of our values is simplicity. We don’t want to feel that we always have to be going somewhere and doing something. We are working on just being still, not being rushed and just simply being together, because that is enough. So, when we get invited somewhere, depending on our week, and the season of life we are in, if we are busy or not, thinking back to this value will help us easily make that decision and we can quickly be in agreement on it because we chose this value together.
- Never Stop Pursuing – My husband and I have been married for 6 years and we have 3 children ages 4, 2, and almost 1. It is safe to say we are really busy and really really tired! But, the hour we have together every night, we cherish. We are always finding ways to pursue each other. With kisses, with words of love throughout the day, with small little gifts, it’s vital to always know your spouse’s love language, as it will change throughout the years, and to choose to pursue them. It does matter, and it does go a long way.
I don’t know where you are in your marriage. You could be newlyweds or you have been married much longer than myself, but just know my heart’s desire is to share my story and how I have seen the Lord work and how I have seen the blessings of a healthy and honest marriage. We have lots to learn as well, because this journey of marriage never ends.
But today, I pray blessings over your marriage, I pray that you can choose to continue to learn to be married, and I pray that this is your best year together yet.
Want more encouragement? Check out Heather’s blog on her website www.lovelyandfree.net