What Advice for a Good Marriage Would YOU Give?
Kent and I have been married almost 30 years. This makes me feel old just writing it, but it also brings feelings of gratefulness to Jesus every-single-time I think of it, because we came SO close to not making it — He is the only reason we pulled through. Read more about that here: My Conversion Story and How Our Marriage was Healed. Or here’s a newer post with more about when I thought saving our marriage was IMPOSSIBLE.
After having lived through what was the worst time in my life (even worse than my Mom’s passing and that’s been pretty tough, even now after 3 years), I now want to help those of you who may be struggling too. If you need some encouragement that it won’t always be so difficult, or some good resource suggestions, please be sure to go read how our marriage was healed.
When a young friend of ours emailed recently requesting advice for a good marriage, I hoped you might also be willing to add your own advice to the mix. Please share in the comments!
Here’s what she sent:
I’m working on a project and hoping that you can help me through this chapter in my life. I feel strongly that I’m called to marry the man that I am dating. Having taken the time to really think about God’s calling for my life, I see it very clearly that my path to become the best version of myself lies in being married. So I need your advice and any thoughts you can offer on marriage — what does it mean to put another person first everyday? What does marriage require to be successful? I hear these things about marriage, and see them in writing in the Church, but knowledge on applying them only comes from those who have lived it out…
I felt myself tugged towards a “comfortable life”, one where I could travel and experience life at my own leisure, and now I see the weight of taking on the needs of another, and others including children, so much so that your own needs become secondary. And the even greater weight of the fact that this experience makes us more like Jesus on a daily basis, who loved us so much that He took up His cross for us. So I see that this calling is a VERY big deal. I really want to hear from the married couples that I respect and honor.“
What a wise young woman to seek out advice from others like this, right?
I’ll share my advice for a good marriage, and then I hope you’ll share yours in the comments.
Here’s what rolled off my fingers one morning…
1. How exciting this time must be for you! The fact that you’re starting with such a strong base because of your faith in Jesus is the BEST thing you can do to start your marriage right. He makes the rough times bearable and the good times even better.
2. Beyond that, just expect that hard times will come and don’t let giving up EVER even be an option. The world wants you to think tough times are not normal, or that things should always be rosy, but that is just not how real life is! So many these days become unhappy in their marriage and think, “I don’t want to be unhappy the rest of my life” and “I deserve to be happy.” But NO. No they don’t. They deserve to live out their commitment, put their kids’ happiness first, and for a time, to take up their cross. I heard someone say recently that when a couple gets divorced they lay down their cross and the kids pick it back up and carry it for life. (Note that I’m not talking about abusive relationships, but those that have seemingly gone cold.)
Know this: the pain doesn’t last forever.
The good times DO come again when people are patient, and if they stick it out they are blessed and the relationship then becomes BETTER than they could’ve imagined.
Kent and I thank God that He brought us through our tough time in 1994 — the worst thing I’ve ever been through! But now we are closer than ever and have been this way for the many years since then. Someday I’d be happy to tell you that whole story, but I thought we were goners for sure.
3. Also, regarding your comment about the weight of taking on the needs of another as a wife and mom… Remember that when the Lord gives you the nudge to do something, as He has with you regarding the married life, He also gives you the passion for it. So basically it doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a joy to serve your family in the ways you’re called to. (Not always, obviously not every single moment, sometimes it’s just plain hard! But overall you will feel joy with your calling.)
4. Keep things light, don’t let every little thing bother you. Kent often says that he’s glad I’m not all touchy about things so we can joke around and laugh a lot together. Nobody wants to feel like they’re always walking on egg shells.
5. One of the best things Kent does in our marriage is that he’s always been my equal as far as chores around the house, this has meant so much to me over the years when I’m stressed — that he’s not relaxing with TV or a book while I’m running around like a crazy woman taking care of the house and kid stuff. His Dad was like that too, but mine was not at all, so I really appreciate that about him. At the same time, even though I’m working at home as well as homeschooling the kids, I try to keep up on as much as I can around here, so after a long day at work he doesn’t have to do a lot when he gets home. It’s just a matter of being unselfish, showing basic kindness toward each other, and not letting bad habits take hold where you take each other for granted, get snippy, or forget to have fun together.
6. One more piece of advice for a good marriage, this one has to do with motherhood more than marriage I guess: do NOT try to do it all! If you are blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home Mom (which is ideal especially when your kids are young) then know that you are doing the best for your family. Take care of your kids, the house, healthy meals, etc., and don’t try to do much else outside the home. I did day care out of our home for over 20 years so I could bring in a little income and be home with our kids, and that was the BEST thing I could’ve done because my kids had friends come play every day, and I could keep up on house stuff at the same time and not be overwhelmed and stressed. However, looking back I should probably NOT have started another business 10 years ago when I got my blog going. That was way too much on my shoulders when my kids were still young and not wise for me to take on. I really tried to put God, Kent, and the kids first and keep my priorities right, but I got too little sleep and was frazzled often, and that’s not the Mom I should’ve been. Being a homemaker is a wonderful but busy enough job! Some moms need to add to the family income and are good at finding a nice balance in their lives, but it’s just not easy. By the way, the same goes for overcommitting yourself with volunteering or helping others — yes, you need to pray about what the Lord is calling you to, but you have to be careful that you don’t serve others so much that you’re too stressed to still be there for your family. If you’re anything like I am (and I know you are), it’s quite easy to go too far if you’re not careful and the busyness will steal your joy.
7. Also don’t miss this: Strive for Passion in Your Marriage! If that part of your relationship is strong and you’re feeling connected physically, it can cover a LOT of the other stuff and make life easier and more joyful overall. 🙂
8. Adding a good one here from the comments: make a weekly date night a priority — especially once you have kids, having an opportunity to form complete sentences with each other is so important!
Your turn, what is YOUR best advice for a good marriage?
More you might like:
- An excellent video: What is marriage?
- Another one on Marriage and Family
- Have you seen this letter to a Mom/wife (basically on how to make the evil one happy), written in the same style as C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters?
- Matt Walsh: I didn’t fall in love with my wife
- From a wise blogging friend, Avivah: Tips for making your marriage awesome
- Marriage isn’t about your happiness