Every couple has their ups and downs and seasons of struggle, but you can get through them when you are willing to fight for your marriage.
A marriage isn't built on merely the words we vowed on our wedding day. It is built in the day-to-day moments of life that have the potential to strengthen our marriage or weaken it.
Something you should know about my husband and I is that when we have disagreements or "fights", we aren't all-out mud-slingers. We don't name call or threaten with the D word. But recently we learned we need to be careful and clear how we communicate.
We've been married more than 17 years and the majority of those years have been spent navigating major life events. When one of us snapped at the other, we chalked it up to being stressed about whatever "life event" we happened to be going through at the time. And while that may have been true, many things never got fully resolved by brushing it aside as such.
Marriage is sacred and when a marriage is healthy, it should be nurtured and tended to every single day.
Stress is a normal part of life--I don't know that it should be, but it is. What we do with that stress plays a big role in our marriage every day. There are seasons when we experience more stress than others and eventually, it can take its toll on a marriage if not handled properly.
When you are feeling extra stressed, what helps bring those levels down? Do you need an hour or two out of the house? Do you need some extra support from your spouse? Communicate those needs and how you're feeling so your spouse knows. It's better than trying to manage it on your own and leaving your other half in the dark about your struggles.
What if your spouse is the one who is stressed? Is there anything you can do to help ease the burden? If you're not sure, ask! So many of the little things can be resolved easily simply by communicating.
When my husband comes home after a stressful day at work, often all he needs is a good hour to himself to decompress. I'll bring him a cup of coffee and acknowledge his need, give him a kiss, and give him some space. Other times he'll want to talk through his stressful day to help relieve some of the pressure, and I simply listen.
In our early years, when I were to get grumpy and silent because he's not meeting my needs after I've worked hard all day, the stress would just escalate for both of us and create a bigger problem in our marriage.
How each spouse responds to the other every single day matters. Everyday life is the making or breaking of a marriage. Marriages aren't broken or destroyed in a day. Neither do they strengthen in a day. It takes purpose and intention to build a strong marriage while it merely takes neglect and carelessness to destroy it.
Not only do we need to be mindful of what we are communicating, but how we are communicating it. Facial expressions and body language often speak louder than words alone. It's important to learn how to communicate effectively in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary conflicts.
What does this look like in everyday life?
If you're a wife in need of something from your husband, simply ask! There is no need to make him play the guessing game or expect him to know what you're thinking. He doesn't. If you need help with the housework, simply ask for help. If you are wanting to spend quality time together, communicate that with him. Don't expect him to automatically know.
Speaking kindly and with respect, even (especially) when you are tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or irritated should be something we practice. Because the reality is, we will spend a lot of time dealing with a lot of negative emotions and learning how to control them. Flinging careless words and rude tones at our spouse will not make us feel better, it will only damage the marriage, especially when done on a habitual basis.
Even after 17 years of marriage, my husband and I are learning how to better communicate with one another. We will never stop growing and learning and that's the point. As a couple, we need to be open to constantly evolving and growing as individuals as well as a couple, and adapting to those changes together.
For Christian couples, spiritual growth as individuals is imperative if you're going to grow in your marriage. Doing devotions as a couple doesn't work for everyone and that's okay! The important thing is that each of you is individually seeking the Lord and taking the steps to grow in your faith every day.
Communicating with each other about what God is teaching you about yourself and how He's working in your heart is important to continue to grow as a couple. That's not to say we are the gauge for where our spouse should be in their walk, but that we encourage and support them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and lead a person to repentance. Hinting or nagging our husband's into "spiritual submission" will not help them grow. Yet prayer, love, encouragement, and patience can help.
It's important to have fun! Life is hard work and we spend a lot of our time pouring out emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Having regular fun together is necessary to help keep that fire of passion lit.
Having fun doesn't mean you have to go out all the time. You can have fun right at home. We have always been very adamant about our children having a regular bedtime. Not only is this beneficial for them in many ways, it is also beneficial to us as a couple. It allows us to have some time together every evening, without children.
We love our children to pieces! They are the most wonderful kids. That doesn't mean we aren't allowed to have our own time together as husband and wife---and have it regularly. Children are takers by nature. An early bedtime is a great time to give everyone a rest. Most nights, that means 9 PM.
Our evenings together often consist of watching TV together, reading, or playing a card game. That's it. But it's fun and we are together, alone. It is a time that has fueled our marriage over the years in ways I cannot even explain. Maybe evenings won't work for you? What about mornings? Choose a time of day when the two of you can connect and have a little fun.
Marriage must be nurtured and cared for in all the events of every day life. I have only listed a few ways here, but consider what other areas your marriage can be intentionally tended to. Cooking: cook something he loves to show him you love him. Cleaning: a quick, daily tidy can be greatly appreciated by a husband who comes home after a long day at work and just needs a reprieve. My husband has often said our home is his safe haven. He looks forward to it! I've spent time over the years making certain our home is one of welcome and peace and it's worth every effort.
For His Glory,