“Marriage is hard.”
That’s usually the first statement I share with engaged couples preparing to tie the knot. I don’t tell them that to discourage them, but to prepare them. Marriage is difficult, but it is also a God-given gift that can and should be the most fulfilling and life-giving human relationship in you’ll ever experience if you’re willing to work at it. There are many keys to a happy marriage, but these are a few that I’ve found to be universally effective.
1. Have Fun! Do you remember how much fun you had when you and your spouse were dating? Why did you stop just because you got married? For some reason, before all the honeymoon pics are even on facebook, we tend to get on autopilot and can start living life as co-habitating business partners. The spark can quickly fade if we’re not intentional about making fun a priority. Go on date nights, buy flowers, take spontaneous mini-roadtrips, leave love notes around the house for each other. Do whatever you can do to keep adventurous fun alive in your marriage.
You might say, “We have kids, we don’t have time!” I can relate, but trust me, the greatest gift you can give to your children is letting them see their Mommy and Daddy in love! The way your treat your spouse is showing your children how they should treat their future spouse.
2. Swallow your Pride. Someone once said, “Being in love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Whoever said that is probably divorced! The truth is, we should be so quick to forgive and seek forgiveness in marriage. Never take your spouse for granted. Never try to “win” the argument. See their perspective. You might say, “but I’m the one who is right!” Maybe so, but sometimes in marriage you have to decide between “right” and being happy!
3. Don’t have an Exit Strategy. We live in a world where we don’t like the confines of commitment. We don’t event want to keep the same cell phone for more than a year! We tend to take this mindset into our marriages. Once things get tough, we start fantasizing about how great life would be if we were free of the commitment. Tragically, at least half of all married couples give in to this temptation. You marriage will get hard and there will be times you want to throw in the towel, but the vows you made are most important in those moments when you’re most tempted to forget about them.
Your marriage might seem broken right now, but there is nothing so broken that God can’t restore it! Trust Him. Pray for your spouse and work together to persevere. Surviving the tough times together will give you even more strength and intimacy once you reach the other side. Your marriage is worth the struggle! Don’t give up.