Christian Living: Keys for a Healthy Marriage
Last May, my husband, Jake and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. Together, we are thrilled to share with you our 7 Keys for a Healthy Marriage.
Our 15 year mark made me feel old and refreshed at the same time. We have become wiser, kinder, and love so much better than we did 15 years ago.
Jake and I have combined our thoughts to bring you this article in hopes that you feel encouraged in your marriage. No matter if you have been married for 3 months or 40 years, we hope you see our hearts and why our marriage is such a priority to us.
As we thought about what advice we could give, it was a little bit overwhelming. There are so many things that make a marriage succeed…or fail.
When we brought our ideas together, these seemed to stand out the most to both of us as ways to build a healthy marriage relationship. Full disclosure: We are not perfect by any means.
15 years of marriage may seem like a lot to you, or may seem like very little. Any amount of marriage beyond 1 week is a lot of work.
We do not have these things nailed down perfectly, but we do believe we have learned a lot and hope that our experience can be helpful to yours. That’s why we’d love to share with you our Keys for a Healthy Marriage.
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Keys to a Successful Christian Marriage
1. Realistic Expectations
So you found the person of your dreams. You stood before family, friends, and God and said, “I do.”
The wedding was fantastic. The food. The dancing. The honeymoon was paradise. You didn’t have a schedule…just enjoyed being ‘husband and wife’ on vacation.
You were giddy at the fact you could call each other ‘husband’ or ‘wife.’ You said, “This is my husband” 20 times a day and couldn’t wipe the smile off your face. You thought, “Marriage is bliss!”
And then, you came home. No maid to clean up your room. No chef to make your meals.
Work schedules or school schedules collided and you had to make an effort to spend time together.
Back to life. Back to reality.
Expectations are pretty high going into that first week of being married. And as perfect as your partner is for you, he or she is certainly not perfect. No one is.
If you expect your spouse to be perfect, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. We have learned the value in allowing room for your spouse to be human. Giving grace and knowing that you will need to receive grace as well.
Saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” go a long ways too. Which leads right into #2…
Communication between you and your spouse is so important.
Guys, I (Jake) get it. Some of you are not very talkative. You think, “my wife has more than enough words for both of us.”
But hear me on this: You need to communicate with your wife. As much as you think she is reading your mind, she cannot know what you are thinking.
You need to tell her. Out loud. In words. In a language she understands.
If you are going to be home late from work, tell her. Don’t make your spouse guess what is going on with you. That will lead to frustration.
I (Melissa) can’t tell you how many times I have asked Jake to help me think through things.
I need him to listen and really hear me. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, I know that I can come to Jake and he won’t judge me. Even when I hurt his feelings, he accepts my apology.
Having that constant communication going keeps us connected. We try and carry it over with our kids as well.
If we forget to talk through a week, they remind us at dinner. They want to know who has practice what days. When is dad back at the church in the evenings this week? When is small group?
We have become better communicators over time and with the experience of learning the hard way.
READ ALSO: Soul Care – Self care tips for the Christian woman.
3. Handling Money
Money causes a lot of stress in relationships. If you don’t have money, you can’t buy things you need. If you buy a lot of things you don’t need, you may run out of money.
Jake and I were both raised in families that taught us how to respect money. We bought things on sale., did projects on our own to cut costs, and shopped at thrift stores and garage sales.
It shaped who we both were going to be as adults. We grew up into adults who love to be thrifty and do projects on our own. We are thankful for parents who modeled those values for us. Our hope is that our 3 boys are watching and learning the same values.
Jake and I both pay bills. We do a lot of grocery shopping together. We talk about the purchases we make on Amazon. (See Communication.)
If money is going into or out of our bank account, we both know about it. Notice I said, “our” bank account. We would very much advise against having separate accounts.
Every dollar brought in, regardless of who earned it, should be shared equally. This just makes the most sense to us. It doesn’t make much sense to keep secret how much is being made, and how much is being spent. That will likely lead to speculation and mistrust.
Relationships work best when you put the other person’s interests above your own. How you handle your money says so much about what your priorities are.
Have lots of sex.
Kidding. Kind of.
In all seriousness, being intimate with your spouse is hugely important to having a healthy marriage. But intimacy is not all about the bedroom. It is about being vulnerable and trusting each other with those vulnerabilities.
It is about the moments of connection that you share only with each other. Your marriage relationship should be special, unlike any other relationship you have.
There are things that you tell your spouse that you don’t tell anyone else. Emotions, dreams, failures, your most embarrassing moments. Those things bind you together in a unique way. When you are connecting in these ways, it will lead to physical connection.
Keeping the ‘marriage bed’ pure is a huge factor in your relationship.
I (Jake) want to have so much respect for Melissa that I am not tempted to stray. I don’t want to look at any other woman the way that I look at her. She needs to be my “one and only.” This fuels passion in our relationship.
5. Be Kind
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Most people like to think that they are kind.
Kind to strangers?
Kind to your spouse?
It depends on the day and time, right?
We recently did a study with our small group called, ‘The Kindness Challenge.’ It is a 30 day challenge to really be intentional about being kind to your spouse.
It involved doing 3 things on a daily basis-
- Say nothing negative about that person- either to them OR about them to anyone else.
- Each day find one positive thing you can praise or affirm about that person and tell them AND tell someone else.
- Each day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.
It was a great study and it really helped us to want to be more kind. Even just recognizing something simple like saying “thank you” to each other has such a positive effect on a marriage.
Being intentional about saying something positive about your spouse to someone else helps you remember why you fell in love with them in the first place. Check out the book!
6. Have Fun
This isn’t really complicated. Laugh together. Go on dates. Go on adventures.
Raise chickens. Watch funny movies. Take a vacation.
A good friend of ours told us when we first got married to be sure and take a trip at least once every 5 years. For our 5 year anniversary, we saved up and went to Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Our 10 year trip was Ft. Myers Beach, Florida. For our 15th anniversary trip, we spent a week in the Florida Keys.
All of these trips have been amazing. A time for us to connect. To be away from the kids. A time of real adventure together.
They make our marriage better in so many ways. We feel refreshed and stronger as a husband and wife after these trips. We always get excited about planning the next big trip.
These are not the only trips we have made as a married couple in 15 years…there have been smaller ones interspersed in there. The point is, life should be enjoyed and who better to enjoy it with than your husband or wife?
READ ALSO: Prioritizing Marriage when you have Kids
Really, this should be number one. We firmly believe that a healthy marriage is built upon a healthy relationship with God.
Can you have a good marriage without faith in a higher power?
Sure, it’s possible.
Can you have a vibrant, thriving marriage relationship without faith in God?
We do not believe that is likely.
Without a higher purpose or a bigger goal, what is our motivation?
You may say, “Our love is what keeps us together.”
Yes. Love is great. Love is highly motivating. But where does love come from?
It is not generated within ourselves. Love comes from God.1 John 4:7-8
We have to choose to love.
Our reason for our commitment to each other comes from our commitment to our God and living for Him. Part of honoring God means we honor one another in our marriage vows. The grace we show each other connects us even more. We long for it and when we receive it, we love those around us better.
We Hope You’ve Enjoyed our Keys for a Healthy Marriage
Our 7 Keys for a Healthy Marriage is not an all-inclusive list. There are other keys.
We could have gone on…
Serve your spouse.
Put their needs above your own.
Pursue them like you did when you were falling in love.
Be faithful. Love God. Love others.
Marriage is amazing! Speak highly of it. There is already too much negativity surrounding marriage.
It is a gift. It is a beautiful thing. Prioritize your marriage and it will be the best relationship you have in this life.
We are rooting for you!
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:2-3
Father, we pray for you to bless the marriages of those reading this. May they find even just one thing from this article to pick out and start to implement in their marriage. Work in their lives. Help them to be full of grace and patience. Protect their marriage and uplift it as the great example that it can be.
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