Don't allow the busyness or hardships of life to make you lose sight of how special your spouse is and why you married him. Make an effort every day to strengthen your marriage.
I have been married for 16 years and with every passing day, I aim to help my marriage grow. Through every little daily interaction, to big life decisions. My husband and I said from the beginning that divorce was not an option. The thing about divorce is that it is never a sudden incident that leads to divorce. It's an accumulation of unresolved problems that pushes couples over the edge.
Those unresolved problems lead to resentment, unforgiveness, and disconnection. The secret to an enduring marriage is to strive to build and strengthen your marriage every day. Building up a relationship is not something left to chance. A marriage should never be left to just allow life to happen to it. A couple should always be intentional to strengthen their marriage.
Here are 5 ideas you can utilize to be intentional to strengthen your marriage:
1. Share a Hobby
Do something fun or competitive together. Try to make it something you both enjoy. Running. Camping. Playing cards. Reading. Watching sports. The list is really endless on what you could do. But do something together so you regularly share a common interest.
My husband and I enjoy camping, and just recently I challenged him to a year-long Rummy competition. Whoever hits 50,000 points first, wins! It requires about 1-2 games a day, but most nights we play 6-10 games at a time. Some days life gets busy and we can't play, but we just pick up where we left off the next time.
2. Have Regular Dates At Home
Making the time to just be with your spouse consistently makes such a huge difference in your marriage! Nothing has to be fancy. After you put the kids to bed, you can do a movie at home. Take out (or not!). Popcorn. Ice cream. Cards. Anything that the two of you can do together. Snuggle up close and just enjoy each other. No agenda. No responsibilities. Just the two of you appreciating each other's company.
Also, a tip. Don't ruin the evening over choosing what to do or what movie to watch. Those things aren't nearly as important as making the time to be together.
My husband and I do this 3-4 times a week, at least. Our relationship is a priority and when it is well nurtured, the rest of life flows more smoothly.
3. Make Conversation
Talk to your husband daily! Don't wait for something major to come along before you engage in a conversation.
It doesn't have to be deep or philosophical to count. Ask about his day. Take interest in his work: the things that excite him and the things that irritate him. Ask about what matters to him, even if it doesn't particularly interest you.
Every so often, talk about the deeper things in life. It could be something you're reading in the Bible or something that's going on in the news; local or abroad. Learn how to understand and embrace each other's differences.
4. Surprise Him
Do something special for him on a consistent basis. Make his favorite meal. Buy him a small gift. Show up at his work (if possible) and bring him lunch. Do things that keep him guessing and are spontaneous!
5. Pray for Your Marriage Regularly
Please don't take this as cliche because it isn't. So many of us underestimate the power found through prayer. God invites us to come to Him with our requests and assures us He hears us. But we must not forget to pray for our own hearts and the will to be molded by our Creator.
Don't wait for a crises to happen before you make the time to pray. Pray for unity, connection, understanding, forgiveness, patience and whatever else it is you need in your marriage to strengthen it.
Strengthening your marriage is not always a walk in the park. Often it means we let go of what we want, we bite our tongue, we go out of our way, and we do it because someone else matters more than our own desires or opinions. That's the depth of marital love...it's meant to be a sacrifice, but it offers great reward.
As a bonus, here are some more ideas for keeping the flames burning in your marriage!