Marriage. This word can come with so many different meanings and implications. What does a healthy marriage mean for you? What does it mean for your kids and what will it mean for the generations coming along next? It’s no secret that marriage, like any relationship, takes work.
That word “work” is not a fun one. When you look up work you’ll find things like, labor, drudgery, task, effort, duty, and a long line of “not so romantic” synonyms. So how do you get motivated to put in the time for a healthy marriage?
Instead of trying to find or make your spouse into the perfect mate…try being the perfect mate first. Jen Weaver and I sit down this week on The Unhurried Life and really sift through marriage. She brings to light some things I really needed to hear to get back on track. (Isn’t it easy to get perspectives out of whack?)
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY MARRIAGE?
Jen and I talk about finding a peace in your marriage. She says she naturally tends towards being a person of hurry and getting all the things done (who can relate to that?) With 2 little boys of her own and a loud house, it’s hard to have quiet and a time to reflect on her marriage relationship.
Time to ask yourself, how am I approaching life? If you were to boil it all down what sort of a perspective or approach are you coming into your marriage with?
God was teaching Jen that marriage was an expression of her faith, marriage and faith are not separate things but actually part of each other. Her wrong thinking was that marriage is a separate thing from faith. She points out that the right thinking is that marriage is an expression of her faith.
She says, “I was hustling and hurrying because I wanted to achieve things, make my husband into my own image, getting him on my own page instead of seeking God and allowing my husband to be made in His image.”
I feel like I’ve been there. Have you?
One of the most beneficial characteristic of a healthy marriage is realizing that your faith walk and your marriage are united.
WHAT ARE HEALTHY MARRIAGE HABITS?
Now, let’s look at what some healthy marriage habits are. When we do get busy and caught up, what should you do to retrain or restart.
Prioritize date night, and remember it can look different in different seasons. Dates need to be fun, get out of mom mode or to-do lists cramming your brain and … connect.
Set alarms in your phone to check in with loved ones. I know you may think you’ll do this automatically but you know how busy your day can get. Also thank God for your husband and not just the blanket “thanks for giving me a great guy” but go deeper. Reflect on who he is as a man, think about him and what you were drawn to before you were married even.
Build in a habit for gratitude. For example, when Jen makes her coffee she thanks God for yesterday as the Keurig pours. It’s a habit to spark a moment of thankfulness.
Here’s a twist – change up routines – so your heart and mind don’t check out. Going through the motions of a date night defeats the purpose of connecting. Try alternating who plans dates and plan it for the other person, it builds up your husband and you because you were able to pour into him. Jen gives a great example of this in this week’s episode.
Pray and worship together. Flip on YouTube and search Hillsong Worship.
Another habit that you can build is to pay attention to the good things your husband is doing. Catching yourself looking for the negative takes time you have to retrain your eyes to look for the positive. What we train our eyes to see, we see.
For example, instead of saying, “Thanks for taking out the trash” while thinking inside, “even though it’s filled with the dirty diapers I was at home changing all day” doesn’t really count.
ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE
Have you ever put expectations on your husband and he never knew about them? Gosh, guilty over here.
Do you want your husband to read your mind? Do you feel like you’re dropping hints that are obvious? Say your expectations out loud. “I want a restaurant where people dress up” (not the burger joint you go to on your lunch with the guys).
Our husbands generally want to do good for us and love us. Focusing on the wrong thing can discourage your husband, put your attention on the good things to encourage him.
When he comes home from work, ask God how you can specifically show him you love him.
Acting on the impulses you have to show your love, and consideration to your hubby can sometimes feel strange at first but could wind up making a bigger impact. I love Jen’s example of this in the show!
Always keep in mind and be aware of what your love and example of marriage is doing for your kids. Remember actions speak louder than words, so when you are acting out your love your marriage tends to lean toward the successful side!
HEALTHY MARRIAGE CHECKLIST
When it comes to a healthy marriage checklist, I wish there was an actual list. In a way there is and it starts with Proverbs 31. But let’s look at another version of a checklist.
Let’s try shifting our perspective from “to do” and looking at some life changes. Instead of always thinking a date night out is for you (cause mama needs a break) start thinking about how it’s for him.
An early assumption Jen made in her marriage was that they were both believers, so God’s automatically here and going to do all He wants to do in this marriage. However, that’s not always true. She was reminded of a time in Sunday school as a child where the teacher said, Jesus is a gentleman and needs to be asked into your life. It’s the same in marriage. You have to invite him in.
Start talking to the Lord and your husband about intentional ways to invite Him in.
It’s so easy as women to want to go straight to our husband and fill him in on how he hurt you. But what if you were looking at hurt or wounds from God’s perspective instead of running to your husband to address the issue. Choose to be on God’s side and choose healing from Him instead of always going to the “source”
Jen mentions that before they go into a tense subject, they pray together, and even have a time of worship. This sets the stage for the conversation to go smoothly and peacefully.
It’s true sometimes we just want to be heard. Often we’re going into a conflict with agenda but when you allow God to be your advocate you realize everyone is on the same team.
You also may need to trust that God is talking to your husband about something that you want to talk to him about, so you don’t actually need to talk to him or fight for yourself. He’s already taking care of it.
Trust God has a good plan.
PERSONALITIES AND MARRIAGE
I always love bringing the enneagram into conversations and love how it shows a new resolution or side of things. So when Jen started talking about her enneagram and her husbands I loved it.
Jen is Enneagram 1 – high achiever, task list – focusing on the negative of marriage but also in herself. In the change of perspective of being unhurried she has had the opportunity to grow. She reminds us, “don’t give up, your marriage is not done yet, He wants to bring in His love.”
Her husband is a 7 (which is what I am!) and approaches things so differently. The more she can understand about his personality the more she can let roll off her back. She knows it’s not personal, it may just be how he is, how he was wired.
Ask for the next step, what does God want to speak to you about. He’s going to keep doing his part you just have to invite Him in.
Pray for a way to surprise your husband, remember to take our eyes off yourself.
Invite God into your mess and don’t be afraid to pray imperfect prayers but always remember to build in the extra time listen.
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