The state of your marriage is not only important for your health and the health of your family, but it’s also important to your community and to the pro-Abundant life movement at large.
It’s true: Strong marriages will have an impact on the abortion rate in this country! But how do you keep your marriage strong? Here are ten practical ways you can start improving the state of your marriage, today!
1. Accentuate the Positive.
Every day we get to choose what we focus on. We can let our minds be consumed with the ways our spouse falls short, or we can choose to meditate on the ways that our spouse is a blessing. First Corinthians 13, the Bible’s famous love chapter, tells us that love always bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. When we believe the best about our spouse, we establish trust. Positive actions follow positive thoughts.
2. Forgive, Forgive, Forgive.
It’s been said that marriage is one giant exercise in forgiveness. It’s true. When two fallible, sinful humans marry, it’s inevitable they’ll hurt each other. We all make mistakes—some purposeful, others by accident. But the faster you can forgive your spouse, the stronger your marriage will be. Holding on to wrongs causes toxic buildup in your relationships. No marriage can stay strong under the strain of unforgiveness.
3. Affirm, Affirm, Affirm.
One verse I’ve had my children memorize is in 1 Thessalonians 5:10. The kid-friendly version says, “Build each other up.” This isn't just great advice for kids - it's incredible advice for every married person too. To have a strong marriage, test your thoughts and your words. Do they match this biblical mandate? Are your words tearing your spouse down, or are they encouraging and edifying? Marriages where spouses affirm each other are better able to withstand the storms of life.
4. Disagree Respectfully.
Bestselling author and marriage expert, John Gottman encourages couples to “soften their start up.” In other words, watch how you handle confrontation. Bringing up problems gently, without blaming, is the most effective way for you to work through marital conflict and to keep your marriage strong, even in the face of disagreement.
5. Manage Money Issues.
According to a Ramsey Solutions survey, after infidelity, money issues are the second leading cause of marital problems. The larger a couple’s debt load, the more they argue. If money is weighing your marriage down, take action to get your financial house in order. Don’t wait; the state of your marriage depends on it.
6. Seek Help Early.
When’s the best time to seek help for marriage issues that persist? Right away. Counseling, couples therapy, marriage enrichment programs, and similar options aren’t just for couples on the brink of divorce. In fact, the earlier you get help, the better your chances are for learning, growing, and becoming stronger as a couple.
7. Say Thank You.
It’s pretty easy to take our spouse for granted, isn’t it? When’s the last time you thanked your spouse for the little things they do like taking out the trash or cleaning the dishes? Or, when’s the last time you said, “thank you” for the bigger things they do like laundry or working extra hours to pay the bills? A sincere and simple thank you costs us nothing, but can pay dividends in the strength of our marriages.
Don’t just be roommates. Couples who engage in some sort of physical touch every day have strong marriages. The act of physical touch triggers physical and neurological responses in our brains. Some suggest couples hug for 2 minutes and kiss for 30 seconds each day. If that sounds daunting, remember there are 1,440 minutes in a day! 30 seconds is less time than it takes to reheat leftovers in the microwave. So next time you heat up that late night snack, grab your spouse and see if you can kiss them until the timer goes off.
Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Prioritizing marriage is a healthy choice for your whole family. When work, children, (or children’s activities!), chores, and other duties don’t leave time for date nights or even family dinners together, it’s time to stop and take inventory of priorities. Demonstrate for your children that alone time for “mom and dad” is important. Though it may feel like a struggle to make time for your marriage, your entire family will benefit from the effort.
10. Pray together.
The strongest marriages are built on Christ. Praying together daily is a good way to reset every evening or start every morning with this reminder of God’s role in your marriage. God designed marriage and uses it as an illustration of his relationship with his church. He wants our marriages to be strong, and is right there to help whenever we need him.