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The longer I am married, the more I believe this!  It is a good reminder of the importance of marriage…the importance of choosing wisely, and the importance of investing in the one you chose!  I first met Nathan a few days after my 19th birthday as I stepped foot on my college campus, and this past August we celebrated 18 years of marriage. (We realized that at this point I have known my husband for more than half my life!)  I am not the same person he married 18 years ago! I can say with confidence I am a better version of my true self, and like the verses say, I am so much better with Nathan than I am without him.  This is all because I am willing to be led by the Holy Spirit and by Nathan’s loving care.
 
When I have fallen, he has been there to pick me up. When I have gone through trials, he has stood by my side. He has gently and lovingly encouraged me to seek the Lord and continue to work on becoming the Me God created me to be.
 
Marriage is hard. It brings out the good, the bad and the ugly. But when two people are committed to each other, God can do the miraculous! As we reflected on life and marriage on our anniversary we compiled a list of advice we would share about marriage. We thought we would share the list here today. In the future we will expand on these thoughts, giving the reasons why and the practical application.
 

Purposeful Marriage Tips:

  1. Never stop dating!!! Don’t assume they are the same person you married. They are growing and changing. Grow and change with them.
  2. Never stop working on your own hurts, hangups and habits. God is always in the healing business and wants you whole!
  3. Be a student of your spouse. Learn their Love Language, Apology Language, likes and dislikes.
  4. Know thy self: Strive to understand your own personality and how you tick. Then learn about your spouse and how they see the world. Focus on understanding, not changing.
  5. Learn about emotions. Learn how to recognize them, communicate them and express them in a healthy way.
  6. Dream together and make goals. Then start making a plan to move towards them. Don’t limit yourself to ‘practical’ dreams. Dream big!
  7. Have consistent time together. Weekly date nights, weekend getaways, and trips. Work within your budget but schedule it and make it happen!
  8. Focus on your side of the bridge. There is always something you can do better, focus on that. Leave their side to them and God.
  9. Practice active listening AND empathy. Listen more than you talk. When you do talk, pause and let the Holy Spirit lead.
  10. Laugh together. You should be able to remember the last time you had a good, healthy laugh.
  11. Keep learning how to fight in a healthy way. You won’t always agree, but you can learn to work through disagreements without wounding each other in the process.
  12. Prioritize your marriage above the kids. Your spouse should only be second in line behind God. This is best for you AND for your children. Trust me, it is!
  13. Learn something new together. Have a shared hobby or do a project together. Serving together is another way to build your relationship. Having a joint focus strengthens marriages.
  14. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting on how to bless and serve your spouse. He knows what they need the moment they do – trust that He is always right and just do it.
  15. Talk about intimacy in your relationship. Commit to learn how to serve each other better. This is one of the hardest things to talk about, but the result is worth it. We believe the health of your intimacy is directly correlated to the health of your marriage. If you need help, get it!
  16. Turn towards openness. We are all embarrassed or ashamed about some aspect of our lives. Practice being vulnerable with your spouse and sharing your fears with them. Freedom comes when you are able to talk about and work through these issues together in honesty and safety.
  17. Help each other fulfill their dreams. Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Help them on their journey; don’t put roadblocks in the way.
  18. Your spouse is the only friend who has pledged to stay with you for the rest of your life. Make a commitment to do anything and everything to keep this relationship alive, healthy and thriving!

Your turn: 

Which one stands out to you? Which one do you wish was true in your marriage today? I challenge you to pick 1-2 that you would like to focus on for the next two months. Write it down and schedule it into your calendar. As my pastor reminds us in his current series, choices matter! What you sow, you will reap. Sow good seed (time, effort, love, understanding, etc) into your marriage and you will reap a harvest that will extend into multiple generations.
 

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