Written By: Christine Leeb
In 2009, my marriage almost ended in divorce. I was done. It was over. We’re talking bags-packed-divorce lawyers-called-I-can’t-take-this-anymore over! But God had other plans for us and called us both to fight for our marriage and for the son He had just blessed us with. Through much counselling, many tears, lots of yelling, huge doubts if we were doing the right thing, we moved forward. We moved past the hurt. We forgave. We found love and respect and hope again. It wasn’t easy, but we learned that our marriage wasn’t what God wanted it to be and we had to make some changes in how we were treating our marriage, in how we were treating each other, and in how we were treating ourselves.
Now, we are stronger than we’ve ever been, and have grown so much closer because of our struggles.
Here are 10 tips we learned along the way to make our marriage more healthy and strong…
- Put God at the centre of your marriage. Even though my husband and I have different religions, we still chose to cover our marriage in prayer in our own way. And that is the most powerful thing you can for your marriage. Pray. Pray. And pray some more.
- Grow together. Be willing to learn from each other. Be willing to change. Be willing to give grace to each other’s weaknesses and build on each other’s strengths.
- Communicate. Find out how you both communicate best. My husband and I learned that when we had something difficult to talk about, we were able to communicate much better by writing letters back and forth. That way, there were no interruptions, no getting angry, no yelling. You get everything out that you want to say and so does the other person. Be intentional about touching base every week to communicate and see how the other person is doing. My husband and I set aside 15 minutes every Sunday for a Sunday Night Chat to talk about anything and everything that we need to talk about.
- It is not your job to make each other happy. It’s not your job to make the other person happy, but it is your job to love them the way they need to be loved. Learning each other’s Love Language was the most powerful thing my husband and I have discovered about each other. Finding out what makes the other person feel loved is a wonderful way to live your life, because then you can be more intentional about spending time together (Quality Time), or buying thoughtful presents (Gifts), or being more encouraging (Words of Affirmation), or being more affectionate and making more of an effort to connect sexually (Physical Touch), or helping out more around the house (Acts of Service). Learn how to speak your spouse’s love language and work towards a love and respect that honours both of you. Happiness isn’t your goal. Love is.
- Laugh together. Find the humour in little things. Find more things to laugh about than to yell about. After having three kids, we have learned to laugh at the chaos that surrounds us. We’ve learned to look at each other from across of the room of fit-throwing and laundry-folding and shrug our shoulders and laugh because what else can we do? Laugh at life. Laugh at mistakes. Laugh at the silliness. Laugh at the mess.
- Be honest. Even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear, tell the truth. Your spouse deserves the truth. Again, it always helps my husband and I to write it out first before we actually talk face to face about something difficult. Be assertive. Be kind and loving and encouraging as much as possible.
- Don’t let the little things turn into big things. If something is bothering you, talk about it before it turns into something you get angry about or resentful about. That’s the beauty of the Sunday Night Chat. It’s a safe time to share things that are on your mind in a kind and respectful way. But also remember that sometimes, some things just don’t need to be said. Pray for wisdom in that too.
- Always be on each other’s side. Even if you don’t always agree with each other, be there to support each other. Be on each other’s team. It’s okay to disagree, but always try to see the other person’s side…see things from their perspective…and show understanding and grace.
- Admit when you’re wrong. More importantly, tell your spouse when he’s/she’s right (even though it doesn’t happen that he’s right very often…hehe.) It’s so freeing to say “You’re right.” Or even the dreaded “I was wrong.” Don’t waste too much of your precious time in this life worrying about the exact details of who was right and who was wrong. Spend more time figuring out solutions together and moving on!
- Find something you both enjoy doing together. My husband did a great job in getting me involved in watching basketball with him by taking me out to a Sport’s Bar for dinner so we could spend “quality time together”. Now, I love watching basketball with him. It was a genius plan. So whether it’s a sport you watch or play together, a TV series you make fun of together…whether you enjoy cooking together, creating together, designing together, gardening together…find something you can do together!
And always remember to be silly and have fun together! Life’s too short not to.
CHRISTINE LEEB is known as The Real Mom. She is a speaker, writer, Christian Life Coach, and the founder of 4Real Moms—an organization encouraging moms to be real while helping them be the best moms God created them to be. She has 3 beautiful (and exhausting) children and has been married to her husband, Brad, for almost 16 wonderful (and challenging) years. She enjoys garage sale-ing, brownie eating, friendship keeping, book reading, family tickling, and husband dating.
Christine is the author of the devotional In His Light: Facing Fear with Faith and loves to challenge women to love their husbands like a boyfriend again in a 14-Day Challenge. For more encouragement and resources, visit her website at http://www.4realmoms.com.