I’ve been asked, “What’s the secret to a happy, healthy, long lasting marriage?”
On a recent anniversary outing with my husband as we hiked through the woods, I was pondering this. As we effortlessly walked alternating side by side walking or walking one in front of the other the parallels started to overcome me.
Perhaps that is part of the secret – taking turns leading as well as moments of side by side interaction.
When I say leading, I don’t mean the authoritative style. I mean leading when it’s your gifting and allowing the other to lead so you can follow safely behind. Sometimes my husband will stay behind me on bike rides or hiking trails so he can see and stay with me. Otherwise he’d get too far ahead and out of sight.
Sometimes I really need my husband to be the leader and sometimes he is so tired of making decisions at work that he wants me to make decisions especially with smaller things like date nights, dinners and vacations.
Do what fits for your relationship.
The more I lingered over the question of what keeps us together and happy, some key thoughts came to mind. As you implement these ideas, try approaching them together – side by side, as well as, taking turns with the lead.
Communication – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 It’s important to communicate.
Talk about your schedules – whether you do this at the beginning of the week or daily. I prefer both. I like to lay out what we have on tap for the week. Discuss when we will both be home in the evening, meals, and expectations. If there are children in the picture, then their schedules need to be considered too!
Discuss finances – budgets, goals and where you are at presently. Money matters are one of the biggest stressors for marriages.
Lastly, communicate your needs to each other. The other person can’t read your mind. They don’t know what you want unless you tell them. For all this communicating to be successful you also need to be present with one another, limiting outside distractions such as devices and perhaps even children, which leads me to my next thought…
Time Together – Get away, whether it is a date night or an actual get-away. We purposed after our ten-year anniversary get-away that we would get-away in some fashion every year around our anniversary. This was one of the best gifts we gave to our marriage and family. The chance to reconnect to the relationship at its core and to concentrate on each other was always such a blessing and strengthening to our marriage. A day date or night is great also. These are pockets of time that allow you to touch base. It gives you a planned time for discussion and allows you to do something you enjoy together. It can be as simple as a walk or ice cream treat or a dinner out. If money is an issue, consider asking a friend or family member or swapping babysitting with a friend and staying home for a dinner together and maybe a movie. Do things your spouse likes to do and vice versa and then sometimes pick things you both like. Think of it as an investment in your relationship, it will bring a great return. “We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:19
Worship Together – “And if one prevails against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 Worship together in some way. Pray together, study the Bible together, attend a church service, serve others. The importance of placing God first in your marriage is vital. The spiritual connection will bring you closer together. If you are in a relationship where your spouse is opposed to this, just pray for them and pray for Jesus to draw them to Him – as a spouse that is your only responsibility besides loving and honoring them. Let the Holy Spirit do the rest and let your actions show the love of Christ.
Look to the Future Together – Focus on a future that involves each other. Set goals for your future together. Dream about jobs, houses, cars, vacations, children, retirement, grandchildren etc. Even dream about ways to serve others or reach out to people together, what might that look like in the future. Think about your health and what you can do today to stay healthy for one another in the future. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Have a Good Sense of Humor – This may be the most important tip I have for you! It took me many years to get there. I used to get frustrated when we disagreed or if my husband just didn’t think like me or have my point of view. Now I appreciate it. I look at our differences as strengths that balance each other out. Now that I am wiser, I tend to laugh at how silly we sound or senseless it is that we are even arguing or disagreeing about something. This comes from years of hindsight that it really doesn’t matter that much in the end. There few things that are so important that it’s worth winning or being right over. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Of course, loving and respecting each other goes a long way but I hope some of the practical tools enhance your relationship and strengthen it for years to come. Be purposeful and mindful, don’t just expect it to happen – like all good things it takes a little work and planning. As the lyrics in the song The Blessing say,
“May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
Your family and your children
And their children, and their children.”
By Ruthie Painter
Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Ruthie Painter lives in Waynesboro, PA , with Jim, her husband of 27 years. She has 2 grown children that are currently attending college. She is an active member of LCBC church and loves staying connected to other women through The Connection.