Fourteen years ago, my then-boyfriend surprised me by flying from Kodiak Island, Alaska (his home), to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (my home), to ask me to marry him. We had met through friends via e-mail about 15 months before, and, crazy as it sounds now, we only visited in person seven times before we were married. Would I do it all again? Absolutely! Will I freak out a little if my daughters try this? Undoubtedly!
In our early years of marriage, we often had a “tell me one thing I’m doing well and one thing you’d like me to work on” conversation. We had nightly devotions and prayed long prayers. As often happens when schedules get busy or kids are born, we were lucky to have a conversation that didn’t include the word diaper, much less have serious conversations about our marriage.
As I think back to the day Greg proposed, I still love him and am thankful that God gave me the man I needed. At the same time, I’m reevaluating how much intentional energy I’ve been putting into our marriage and wondering how to build an even better one. So I asked friends for their marriage advice and wanted to share it with you.
My favorite gem comes from a woman whose marriage has weathered the death of a child, cancers, ill parents, a bone marrow transplant, and heart attacks—a marriage that will celebrate its 49th anniversary this August. Her advice? “The grass is always greener where you water it.”
With that, I share 15 ways to help us all water the grass on our side of the fence.
1. Build your marriage with God as the solid foundation–this is the most important one!
2. Nag God, not your hubby. Yes, your bathroom has been under construction since last Thanksgiving, but praying about supporting your husband in his everyday life will get you much further than asking him daily when he’s going to finish.
3. Don’t go to bed mad. Do go to bed at the same time. Have “pillow talk” between just the two of you. Learn about each other as you grow and change.
4. Pray for each other every day. Pray together often.
5. Do a chore you don’t like–yes, even cleaning the toilet shows you care.
6. Leave love notes in odd places–in a jacket pocket, in the car, on the bathroom mirror, in a wallet or purse.
7. Learn each other’s love language and “say” I love you in that language. Doing the dishes for your spouse might seem like a great way to say I love you, but when their love language is quality time, they’d rather have dirty dishes in the kitchen and you next to them on the couch.
8. Diligently protect your marriage from infidelity. Don’t spend enormous amounts of time with a member of the opposite sex. Guard your heart.
9. Work more on your marriage than you did on the wedding. That was just a day; this is for a lifetime.
10. Plan date nights. No, I don’t mean going to the grocery store together. A real date.
11. Listen when your spouse talks to you. Listening means being attentive, responding when asked, not judging, not interrupting, being fully engaged.
12. Give lots of grace, just like you get from God every day.
13. Write down five ways that you see God working through your spouse and show them your list. Say thank you!
14. Hold hands in public so much your kids get uncomfortable.
15. Model a loving, healthy relationship for your kids. You have the biggest influence on the husband or wife they’re going to be someday.
“Two are better than one. . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10)
Linda, born and raised a city girl, is married to Greg, born and raised a country boy. They are almost complete opposites, which makes them a great team.