OK ok, I know Josh and I have only been married for a year and a half, so what can we POSSIBLY know about marriage?! Especially because we only have one kid, and he is still a baby! Fair enough, but I believe that this list holds true no matter HOW long you have been married or HOW many kids you have. I would also like to think that Josh and I have something to add to this conversation because we have been together in TOTAL for almost 10 years!
So after discussion with him, this is what we came up with:
- Make Christ the Centre
Most importantly, Christ needs to be the centre of MY life. What is my relationship like with God right now? Do I make a point to have prayer time and make personal contact with my Creator each day? I’m a different person when I don’t make time for God. I know, its true, new moms barely have time to shower let alone have prayer time. I don’t think we need to have a one-hour structured prayer time. But doing some “Hail Mary” passes during the day will help a lot. (Oh dear Mother of God, pray for me, I am about to lose my sanity)
Likewise, Christ needs to be the “third” person in our marriage. Simply going to church together each Sunday isn’t enough. We both need to make sure He is front and centre in all aspects of our lives: finances, family, relationships, etc. How do we do that? See point #2
2. Pray: Together and For Each Other
Early on in our marriage, Josh and I would get ready for bed, turn off the lights, say goodnight, roll over and go to sleep. Something in this routine simply felt “off”. After prayer one morning, I realized it was because we were not praying together! That night I asked Josh if he would like to start praying together before bed and he answered with an enthusiastic “YES”! And then…what? How do we even pray together? We started off simply doing a thanksgiving prayer: praying for our day that we just had, and for our days tomorrow, being specific. Sometimes our prayer is more intense, but for the most part this is what we have been doing for the last year and a bit. However, every single night we start our prayer off with, “Thank you Lord for my wife,” “Thank you Lord for my husband.” Oh, and now we get to include Joseph.
Don’t forget to pray for your spouse every day (see point #3).
- Always be on the Same Team: Benefit of a Doubt
This one is so important to Josh and I! We agreed early on that we would always be on the same team and give the other the benefit of the doubt.
Imagine a tennis doubles team: it would be detrimental for team dynamics if they got mad at each other for “missed” plays. Instead, they work out rough patches so they can battle together for their next match, always improving and getting better, so they can win. We should treat our spouse with the same intentional attitude, always striving make each other better competitors (but remember, nagging is not what a good teammate does). Teammates should always give each other the benefit of the doubt that they other person is working as hard as they can towards the goal.
I always try to assume that Josh is trying his best and has the best intentions (he didn’t intentionally leave his dishes on the counter, he probably just put them there and forgot!). And he does the same with me. This attitude shift has done great things for our marriage. It means that we always assume the best of our teammate, and this in turn causes them to rise to the occasion. Of course if there is a “missed” play that needs attention – talk about it right away!
- Give them your Best
I recently came to this realization, while putting on makeup to go to church. I am so willing to put on my best clothes, hair, make-up, and attitude when I am around other people. Yet I am more than willing to greet my husband when he comes home with 3-day old hair, a shirt with spit-up and God knows what else on it, and a cranky attitude. Sure, I know that he will always love me, and it’s a wonderful thing that I can be myself with him. However, if I only ever give him my “leftovers” how will that make him feel? It’s true, I’m not perfect and fail at times, but I do make an effort to give him my best, all the time!
In the wise words of my husband, “Always treat the other person like they are having a bad day.” It sounds weird, but if I imagine Josh has put in a hard day at the office, I am very compassionate, gentle, and loving when he walks through the door. Instead of dumping all of my troubles on him, I am willing and ready to listen to him!
- “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” Eph 5:21, 24-25
This one can be hard, since the word “subordinate” has such a bad connotation. But if you read it closely, the passage’s first lines tells us to both be subordinate.
- lower in rank or position
- treat or regard as of lesser importance than something else
We are expected to regard ourselves as less important than the other; to put them ahead of ourselves. There is an intonation of sacrifice here. And for those who think that men got it easy in this passage, remember that Christ died for the church out of love…so men must die to their wives!
- Know your love languages
This one is kind of fun to discover. It can go under the category of “communication”. I think a lot of frustration can happen in couples when the other does not love them in the “right” way; that is, the way they are readily able to receive it.
There are 5 broad categories for the ways we give and receive love
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
I can feel pretty unloved if Josh doesn’t tell me he likes dinner (words of affirmation), or if he doesn’t put the recycling in the bag (acts of service)! Take the test to find out how you feel loved, and make sure your spouse does it too! http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
7. Spend some quality time together each week
We find this one especially challenging, but no surprise, one of the most important. It’s so important to check in with your spouse to find out how they are doing, what’s going on in their life, how they are feeling, etc. It’s also important to just enjoy the other person’s company! Often parenting and keeping house is a never ending to-do list, so it’s so crucial to see the other side of your spouse – you know…the one you married!
Don’t misread this. We don’t mean going on legit dates every week (although if you can, all the power to you!). But have dinner as a family. Or sit on the couch together and relax (yes, watch Netflix, but you should probably say at least 5 sentences to each other first!). Or make an outing to Walmart fun (as opposed to stressful) by being lighthearted and thinking of it as an “adventure”.
Would you add any other tips?