5 Things to Do Today for a More Simple and Strong Marriage
In a world full of information, it can be overwhelming to process which tips and tricks work the best when it comes to building a healthy marriage.
When my husband and I sit with couples, hear their stories of successes and failures, there are common threads we hear over and over about things that help and hinder relationships.
So let’s keep things simple today and focus on five things we can start (or continue) doing right away to build and keep our marriage healthy.
- ‘We’ over ‘me’ mindset. Considering marriage as a team sport versus a solo endeavor is a game changer. Shifting our mind to a “we” focus instead of a “me” focus, marriages improve drastically.
In the past I wobbled between figuring out how to meet my needs then trying to meet my husband’s needs, when all the while I had been neglecting the needs of the “marriage” unit. For example, there were days when neither my husband nor myself felt like investing time or energy into the needs of the marriage, yet we knew the marriage would benefit from some investment. So we both sacrificed our need for rest, time, etc. to invest in the marriage unit and the marriage benefited therefore we each individually benefitted.
If we are women focused on our needs, or our husband’s needs, instead of considering the needs of the marriage unit, we do a disservice to the relationship. When couples do this, they move, act, think and work as a team instead of as independent people.
There is a big difference in a relationship that has two people in it doing their own thing and a relationship that has two people working together as a unit. A marriage where the couple are “we” focused is energized and powerful.
God created us to work together in the marriage to accomplish the mission He set before us. We fight with each other toward a common outcome instead of fighting against each other.
- Communicate expectations respectfully. My husband is not a mind reader, and I would venture to say your husband is not either. He has no idea what you expect, desire or want. And while it can feel awkward to communicate your desires or expectations, it really is what a good-willed husband hopes you will do.
Most men want to please their wife, but so often they just don’t know how to. So instead of attempting something and taking a risk that they will fail, men will often not take the risk. Make it easy on your man and just be honest about what you want. If he asks you where you’d like to go for dinner and you have a place in mind, use the opportunity to tell him what you prefer, while still being open to suggestions.
I remember how frustrated I used to be when my husband would treat holidays, birthdays and events casually. In my mind I expected a grand to do about things, because as a child those events were celebrated greatly in my home. But without communicating expectations and desires to my husband, he had no idea how important they were to me. I anticipated he would put in the same mental energy and forethought into these special occasions, when in fact it didn’t cross his mind. The “special” day would come and go, and I would be hurt he hadn’t lived up to my expectations, and then I would shut down emotionally or get upset while all the while my poor husband had no idea why. Now we have learned to simply ask the other person what they would like to have happen on a special day and do our best to fulfill whatever we can.
When we honestly communicate our expectations we take away the pressure of failure, and we begin to build trust with one another. We also open up with vulnerability and begin to help ease each other in the way of building emotional equity with one another.
- Experience events together. Whether it is hiking trails, sitting on a beach, playing a game or watching a movie, there are things we can do with our spouse that help build the friendship of the marriage stronger. While we don’t have to do everything together, there are things we can do as friends that create memories, open up opportunities for conversation, make each other smile and invest in the emotional health of the marriage unit.
The more events we enjoy together the greater the bank of positive emotions and memories we have to pull from when we face frustrating, trying and heartbreaking memories.
It is easy in the midst of frustration to feel that the marriage “has always been challenging” or whatever other emotion you want to substitute. But the truth is, even though a season of the marriage may be hard, it doesn’t mean every season has or will be hard. Having experiences together affords us memories to remind us of happy events and seasons.
Besides, the more we do together, the more we work on being a unity and not just two independent partners, which just reinforces point #1 from above!
- Have sex! Y’all! Seriously. God designed sex to be a gift that binds a married couple together emotionally, physically, spirituallly and mentally. If we fail to have a thriving sex life with our husband, we fail to trust in the gift God gives us to work. I’m not talking about having sex every day, but without serious investment in intimacy, a marriage will grow at risk of experiencing problems in other areas of marriage such as communication and overall marital satisfaction.
If we view sex as a gift to partake in together and are not stressing about our needs or desires but rather how much sexual activity the marriage needs, we’ll begin to see sex as an opportunity to experience each other and intimacy together. We can also be open and honest about our sexual expectations and desires. Even if one spouse has higher expectations than the other partner, we can meet in the middle and both parties can work on adjusting expectations to a healthy medium. This shows each spouse the other one’s effort to think about the marriage over their own needs and in turn builds more emotional equity.
Have y’all caught on to this little cycle God has designed for relationships? The relinquishing of self leads to the service for the other which in turn leads their heart to do in kind and the cycle begets more and more blessings, if we do this well.
- Pray for your husband. This is last on the list, but it is most certainly not the least in importance. As a matter of fact, I end with this because if there is only one thing you listen to from this entire list I want you to settle on this task being the most important.
Praying for your husband unlocks spiritual power than transcends physical power. Yes, good communication is essential. Yes, sex is crucial. Yes, experiences are important, but prayer—prayer changes everything!
Prayer does what we cannot do. Prayer unlocks the power of heaven.
Prayer moves us beyond ourselves. Prayer focuses our minds and hearts on what is best for our husbands in the eyes of God, not in our own eyes. Prayer’s power does not end.
When I began to intentionally pray for my husband, I began to see a huge transformation in myself, my husband, and in our marriage and home. Because I stopped relying on the power I had and began to rely on God’s power, it transformed our marriage. Prayer softens our hearts not only to our spouse but most importantly to God.
Building a healthy marriage takes time, intentionality and commitment. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Start doing these five things in your marriage with intentionality and commitment and see what happens over time to your marriage. And if you’re already doing these steps, keep being faithful in them.
Wife Step: Consider the season and condition of your marriage—are you doing all these steps with intentionality and consistency? If so, keep going. If not, start with one of them and move toward all five.
Natalia Drumm is a writer, speaker and teacher with a passion for building community and engaging women in the Word of God. She is married to her high school sweetheart, and they are raising three little boys in their home town of North Port, FL. Natalia and her husband serve in their local church as marriage small group leaders and life group coaches. They have a passion for healthy marriages as they have seen the restorative power of God in their own marriage and family.
Natalia is an assignment writer for Lifeway Women and serves as the Bible Study Content Editor at Living by Design Ministries. She also volunteers at Proverbs 31 Ministries on their proofreading team and leads a COMPEL Discovery Group. Natalia writes over at www.nataliadrumm.com where she creates devotional study books on issues relevant to womanhood and living in the fullness of God’s design for womanhood.
When not writing, or serving at church, Natalia spends her time running, reading and enjoying a good Netflix binge. She’s also not be one to turn down a cold Coke and hot chocolate chip cookie.