I am not an expert on marriage but I can proudly say that I have been married to the same man for 41 years, so I guess that gives me some credit speaking and sharing on ‘how to strengthen your marriage’. I’m not saying our marriage is perfect, but in my eyes, it’s pretty close!…lol.
Believe me; we have had to come through some hairy times in our marriage, probably mostly on my part as I had major, major insecurity and jealousy issues. I came from a very ‘dysfunctional’ home life where I had been physically and mentally abuse on a regular basis from my Aunty and my Mum and sexually abuse by my next door neighbor. I was put into a boarding school at the age of 4 until half way through Year 6 then I went to Coogee Public School. My Mum was a single parent, my Dad left when I was 2 years old. To this day, I still don’t know why but knowing my mum as I grew into teenage years, she was pretty unbearable to live with. My Mum eventually told me in my later years that my dad never wanted me, but I don’t believe her for one minute, this was just a story from her so that I would side with her and say how horrible my Dad was. I know for a fact that my father tried to find me until I was 15, wrote so many letters to me but I never received any and found out later by my Mum, that she had torn them all up and threw them in the bin. I didn’t find this out until I was in my 30’s. You can imagine the turmoil my brain sometimes went through. There is so much more to my story but I thank God for my understanding husband, who sometimes went through turmoil as well trying to understand me and trying to understand the terrible emotions and terrible feelings of insecurity that I had from my upbringing. It was extremely hard for him because he didn’t understand as he had come from a loving and secure home with a beautiful Mum & Dad. This was so strange to him that someone could have all these hangups!
LISTEN TO EACH OTHER: I have always considered myself a good listener. There is something beautiful about really listening to what your spouse is saying/feeling without having to get a word in or steer the conversation in your direction. To this day, I am still a good listener and Rick is never lost for words, always sharing with me his thoughts. I love being his sounding board…lol
FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER: You aren’t going to feel free until you forgive one another completely. Are you holding onto something that happened before your marriage? Are you resentful of things in your marriage? Let them go! Don’t blame one another or hold resentment a day longer. Set yourself and your marriage free through grace.
DATE LIKE YOUR 16: Rick and I were actually dating from the ages of 15 and he was 17. Always be playful, have fun, be energetic with each other. When you first start dating all you think about is the other person. You talk on the phone for hours, just to hear the sound of their voice. You get nervous at their touch. You want to look into each others eyes for hours. Nothing else matters, you can see or hear anything outside your googly romantic eyes and ears! Remember those feelings? Date like that! Look at your spouse and see that person you fell in love with – the person you couldn’t get off your mind. Sometimes, Rick still gives me butterflies and I never want that feeling to go away.
“Let your fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of your youth” – Proverbs 5:18
LAUGH UNCOMFORTABLY: I will say that this is one of my favorite things about our marriage and I consider it to be one of the things that keeps us thriving. Rick makes me laugh everyday and that’s the honest truth! Be fun and spontaneous with your spouse. Have a water fight in the house, be happy together, lay in bed and tell old funny stories about your relationship. Smile & Laugh consistently!
“Laughter is great for the soul and for healing as well”
BE SELFLESS: Marriage isn’t always going to be equal. Some weeks, you might feel like you are carrying 75% of the burden and some weeks your husband might feel that way. Love isn’t about keeping track of who did the dishes when, or cleaned the house last. These things can come in-between your marriage so quickly. It is easy to become prideful in who did this and who did that. It about living a selfless marriage between two people. We should always be looking out for what’s best for our spouse.
SHOW AFFECTION TO EACH OTHER: Yes, you are married, so yes, you should act like it. I’m not saying go and “get a room” style in public affection, although Rick and I are ALWAYS holding each others hand wherever we go. ..lol. Lets face it, we were created to be intimate with our spouse, but I believe that it means more than just showing up at night, it’s about the spiritual and emotional connection you experience with your spouse. It can’t be just physical, if it is, it will just be temporal and meaningless.
PRAY TOGETHER: I’ll never forget when we got married (eloped but still got married in a Presbyterian Church) the minister at that time made one specific point to us and ask if we would commit to this and if we did, our marriage would grow strong. He asked us to always ‘pray’ together every day!…..and we have! Prayer is one of the most powerful and meaningful things we can do for our marriage. There is also great value in praying together. I know that if you haven’t done this a lot in your relationship, it can be awkward, but even though it may be awkward for both of you especially in the beginning, it makes prayer time very intimate and vulnerable, but at the same time – extremely powerful!
NEVER STOP ENJOYING LIFE TOGETHER: Always continue to experience different adventures. These can be from fairly cheap getaways to a more lavish time overseas. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to find new adventures. Even just going for a bush walk together, hug some trees, have a picnic in a paddock – do something radical…don’t just become stale with each other and sit at home and complain.
There is so much more I could say from my experience but I hope these few tips are helpful to you and your marriage.
Lots of love and may you have many happy years ahead of you both..