5 Ways to Keep Marriage Strong
- Debra Fileta Author and Licensed Counselor
- 2017 27 Feb
Google “marriage jokes” and these are some of the things you’ll find:
Marriage is not a word. It is a sentence–a life sentence.
Marriage is very much like a violin; after the sweet music is over, the strings are attached.
Marriage is love. Love is blind. Therefore, marriage is an institution for the blind.
Marriage is an institution in which a man loses his Bachelor’s Degree and the woman gets her Masters.
Marriage is a thing which puts a ring on a woman’s finger and two under the man’s eyes.
Marriage certificate is just another word for a work permit.
Marriage is not just a having a wife, but also worries inherited forever.
I really despise marriage jokes. First, I despise them because they are critical, negative, and completely discouraging. But secondly, I despise them because at the core….they reflect the heart of a very broken society, with a very twisted view of marriage. They reflect a world around us that is struggling to see marriage as a blessing, but rather see it as a hindrance.
Turn on the local news and you will hear story after story of broken marriages, destructive relationships, struggling families, and the on again off again romance of Hollywood that confirms our societies apathetic view on holy matrimony.
I despise marriage jokes because I believe they affirm the very thing the Enemy is trying to do in the world around us- steal, kill, and destroy our God-ordained, God-given, God-created relationships. They make light of a very serious matter and snuff the image of God in the very relationships that were meant to reflect and honor Him.
Marriage is no walk in the park. It is a road full of really hard choices, ridiculous selflessness, and constant service. But it is a journey full of blessing, healing, and hope. It is a hazy glimpse of God’s incredible love found in the eyes of another human being.
My husband and I take this seriously, and try to live out this kind of love each and every single day. Some days are way harder than others, and many times we make mistakes. But more than anything, we have committed to five things to keep our marriage strong…
1. Friendship: It’s easier to be friends than lovers. And those who start as friends, make the best lovers. John and I founded our relationship on a really strong friendship. I see the roots of that friendship sprouting in our marriage every day. Each component to our friendship is like a string - and we have string after string tying us together and holding us close. We share similar interests, hobbies, passions, and beliefs that keep us connected. But we also have many differences - differences that we see as opportunities to learn, experience, and get to know one another even more. We love spending time together, experiencing things with one another, and consider the other as our best friend. We don’t let our marriage cover over our friendship…it only accentuates it.
2. Laughter: When I met John I thought he was the funniest man alive (now I know better!). But the truth of the matter is he keeps me laughing and makes me smile. We have so much fun together, and some of our most intimate memories involve us laughing until there are tears streaming down our faces. There is a time and place in marriage for tears of frustration, anger, and sadness…but there should also be a time for tears of joy. Make that a priority in your marriage.
3. Confession: As hard as it is, John and I are getting really good at saying sorry. But we’ve evolved. We don’t just say sorry anymore - because the word “sorry” doesn’t always hold much meaning. We have learned to confess to one another, to take ownership and responsibility of our sins, flaws, and weaknesses, and to apologize specifically for how we have hurt each other. As humbling as this can be, confession has brought an intimacy between us that is far greater than any prideful “rightness” could ever bring. We’ve learned to confess to one another, and then to forgive one another.
4. Affection: While affection was the norm in our first 3 years of marriage - two children later, a lot has changed. Affection is no longer the “norm,” it’s a priority. It’s an action and reaction to one another that involves being deliberate and choosing to make time for intimacy, romance, and quality time. It’s a part of our life that we’ve had to learn to integrate in our day to day, rather than just save for special date nights. We give affection through our words, loving glances across the couch while reading books with the kids, holding hands in public or even across our dining room table. We’ve learned to show affection through our words, our actions, and our attitudes with one another. And let me encourage you…a little love goes a long, long way.
5. Connection: With so many opportunities to “connect” throughout the day via Facebook, emails, text messages, and interactions with others - sometimes our need for connections is depleted by the time we are face to face with our spouse at the end of the day. John and I do our best to save our connecting for one another…to save our favorite stories of the day with each other, to call and text each other throughout the day, and to always save the last few minutes before bed as our time to emotionally connect. We’re deliberate in having deep conversation with one another, and make the most of the time we’re apart by thinking about each other and then sharing those thoughts when we get the chance.
Marriage is not an easy road, and the proof of that is reflected in the many marriages around us that are falling apart. But God’s design for marriage is not to add burdens but to bring blessing into our lives. May God give us the grace to honor our relationships with our spouse, to invest in them, and to show them the love of Jesus every opportunity we get. And may we be blessed in return.
Article ran originally on truelovedates.com. Used with permission.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more.
Publication date: July 29, 2013