Over 44 years ago, Mary and I promised to never, ever use the “D” word when it came to our relationship – divorce. We have kept that promise. Along the way we have discovered there are a lot of things we can do as a couple to provide strength to the marriage relationship.
After eliminating the divorce word, decide to maintain honor in your relationship. Honor is a hard word because none of us act honorably every day, at every moment. Honor means to hold in high respect and worth and high public esteem. To honor the marriage relationship is to place it before the children, your job and your ministry, but not before your God. Love God first and then your closest neighbor, your spouse.
Keep giving each other space. That means when she needs some alone time, do your best to help her make it happen. If he needs a guy’s night out, help him plan it. That “space” can help to recharge your batteries and who doesn’t want their life mate to return refreshed?
Share your financial expectations and maintain your budget. Money can cause the biggest disagreements. At least it did in our marriage. All too often couples have differing money values, but a money date where we openly discuss our goals and look over our finances can really help the two of us to be on the same page. Money dates could happen as often as weekly, but need to happen at least monthly.
Speaking of communication…never stop. In fact, over communicate as often as you can. You just can’t beat talking! Taking a daily time, at least 20-30 minutes of time that is not interrupted by the children, the phone or the TV, is invaluable to your relationship. It will keep you on the same page. Whether it’s the kids schedules or your weekend plans communicate, communicate, communicate.
Be good to yourself and to one another. Take care of yourself and your health. Try to look good for one another. I know, you have baby food on your sweatshirt and dog hair on your pants, but for heaven’s sake take the time to clean up a bit, have dinner together once in a while and share words of appreciation and encouragement. It will go miles in your relationship. This also means prioritizing dating your spouse. Dress up, get a babysitter and spend time together laughing and having fun. The investment is worth any cost because the return is incalculable.
Give each other room for failure. Failing is a part of life and through it we often learn what doesn’t work. I fail, you fail, we all fail. Stop being so hard on the other person, acting as though you don’t fail. When we give room for failure, we are showing good will and giving one another the benefit of the doubt. Walk and talk through it and then forgive. Forgive quickly. Forgiveness is medicinal and we are both desperately in need of it. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
Refuse to allow sexual intimacy to be stolen from you. It’s yours and yours only. While frequency may decrease and children make it challenging, do not lose it. Create a schedule if you have to and maintain it. Nothing removes the “little foxes,” those growing annoyances, like love-making and nothing keeps passion alive like sexual intimacy. Make a promise to yourself, to one another and to the God who gave this gift to you to never let it go. You are one and sexual intimacy reinforces your oneness.
The glue that holds all this together? Prayer. Learn to pray together. There is no better way to communicate, resolve issues, gain wisdom or “cast your care” than to pray together. You will find the intimacy you have only dreamed of if you’ll pray together. You will discover answers to lifelong problems, to long-term financial disagreements, to present frustrations and to future visions and goals. Prayer is intimacy of the highest degree in marriage as together we reveal our hearts’ desires to God and to one another.
Lastly, seek the wisdom of others as needed. None of us can go it alone. We need mentors: older, wiser married couples in our lives. We need a local church that provides teaching for our family and causes us to look beyond ourselves and to the mission of helping others. We need those who will challenge us to be better parents, lovers, friends, employees, business owners and servants.
Read through this blog together, discuss it and then ask your life mate how the two of you are doing in the above areas.