7 Ideas for a Happy Marriage

My husband and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary this year. Since my parents divorced when I was three, the concept of marriage used to terrify me. I know the statistics. Now, though, I cherish this wonderful gift and thank God for showing me the truth. I’ve learned a lot along the way and continue to grow with each lesson. Here are seven things we’ve discovered that make for a happy marriage:

1.             Commitment.  We both love God and are committed to having Jesus as our foundation. When a husband and wife are seeking God with their whole heart always, God will seal their commitment to one another and provide a peaceful stability. On a personal level, trust has always been difficult for me because of my parents’ divorce. But, I’ve learned – when two people are fully committed to God and each other, it really is safe to trust. Commitment isn’t just a declaration you make at the beginning of your marriage, though, I believe commitment is a daily, moment-by-moment choice.

2.             Communication.  We talk about everything. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell him my true feelings, but I do. Often, I start by saying, “I know this is silly, but you’re my best friend and I want to talk about this.” Be vulnerable and honest with your spouse about everything. No exceptions. It is tough, but communicating the difficult things always takes our relationship to the next level.

3.             Love.  We both have our own faults and love each other with lots of grace. I am talking about those annoying little things — socks on the floor, toothpaste splatter on the mirror, toilet lid up. Do you notice I only mentioned the things that annoy me? He has his own extensive list of my faults! Ha!

4.             Respect.  We don’t yell, curse or call each other names. Do we have disagreements? All the time. But, we always maintain respect. Another note about this, we respect each other’s goals and provide encouragement. I always say – My husband believes in me more than I believe in myself!

5.             Physical Intimacy.  Okay, I wouldn’t be real if I didn’t mention this, but a blog may not be the most appropriate place to have this discussion. I’ll keep it simple – God intended sex for marriage. So, it is a gift to be enjoyed … a lot :)

6.             Teamwork.  Life is messy. We will always be learning and growing together. With our children, we are a united team. We talk about issues behind closed doors, then we use one set of rules for the kids. As for finances, we both work on our budget together. Early in our marriage, the one in charge of the checkbook seemed to be telling the other how much to spend. It created tension. With our personalities, we’ve found it’s better to do the family finances together so we’re always on the same page.

7.             Fun.  No marriage is perfect, but figure out what works best for you and enjoy it! Laugh often and be silly. Marriage is fun!

These work for us! What would you add to the list? Do you have any tips for a successful marriage?

Nagging vs. Communication

I love to be organized. Give me a binder with color-coded tabs and I can organize like nobody’s business. I make lists for everything. Early in our marriage, I made “honey-do” lists for my husband. I thought he would appreciate that I could “help” him get organized.

Here’s what actually happened: He couldn’t complete the items fast enough for my standards. I would get annoyed. He would get irritated and felt controlled. A fight would erupt.

I haven’t written a list for my husband in over ten years. And, guess what, we’re still pretty organized! Even if we weren’t … my marriage is far more important. We communicate now, I demand less. I can honestly tell you, if I had continued down my path of “honey-do” lists, I don’t know where we would be. I know it would’ve driven a wedge between us.

I’m not saying “honey-do” lists are bad for every marriage. If it works for you, that’s great! But, is there something else that may be causing division? Are you constantly finding faults in your spouse? Do you talk or listen more? Are you tearing him down or building him up?

Nag. Oh, I despise that word. We never use it, Matt knows it rubs me the wrong way. I prefer “strong-willed” or “persistent” – those sound so much more acceptable. The definition of nag is even less appealing: “to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands.” The Bible also weighs in on this topic in Proverbs 27:15:

A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; You can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.

Ouch! Can you imagine how a spouse feels when they are constantly being nagged? You don’t make enough money. You don’t do this right. You don’t _____.  The spouse starts feeling trapped in an annoying marriage, the Bible says, “you can’t get away from it.”

Nagging is one-way, but communication is a two-way conversation. Before, my approach was to make a list without his input. I expected a fast response, it was all about me. I was a nag.

Now, we communicate. I say, “There are a few things I need to ask of you, whenever you have time.” When he is ready, we discuss. I seek his input and advice. He is my partner, not a robot burdened with my controlling demands and high standards. We finally have no more leaky faucets!

Build up your spouse. Encourage him. Seek his advice. Respect him. Communicate with each other. Enjoy the peace and quiet of no more nagging!