Today is my and my husband’s wedding anniversary! In honor of this day I want to share with you a little bit about how we made it here. Every marriage has ups and downs. You can’t stay in the “honeymoon” phase forever. Sometimes, however, we need a little more help. I hope I can help even one couple today with a quick telling of our story.
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Less than a year ago I wasn’t entirely sure if we would make it to this day together. We hit a very hard spot in our marriage this past fall. There were a lot of hurt feelings, resentment, and coldness between us. My husband didn’t particularly want to come home from work each day, and I felt stress and anxiety about his return home. We had even allowed out minds to wander to thoughts of singleness, or even new relationships all together.
One particular weekend it all came to a head. Thank the Lord, He opened our eyes to the magnitude of the problems we were having. We came to a fork in the road where we had to choose whether we were going to do the work it would take to get us back on track, or if we were going to walk away and let the marriage die. By the grace of God, we came to the decision to fight for each other and do the work. The following steps are the ones we took, towards God and towards each other, to make our marriage a happy one again.
Seek Godly Counsel
This first step was very important for us to be able to turn things around. We enlisted the help of our Pastor and his wife, and another seasoned Christian couple who has studied marriage and has a heart for helping couples. My husband and I knew we couldn’t fight for this alone. We needed wise advice, sympathetic and neutral ears, and people backing us in prayer.
Notice here I said Godly counsel. That does NOT include gossiping to your coworker about your spouse, or reading fashion magazines for marriage advice. Those things are a waste of time, and will result in more harm being done than good. Going to a Christian family counselor or the elders of your church are a much healthier and wiser choice.
Pray for Your Spouse
Praying for your spouse will look very different depending on each situation. You may pray for God to change their heart, to make them more sensitive to His leading or to recognize and turn away from their sin. The prayers may be asking God to help them forgive you for your shortcomings, that they would be open to giving you a second chance, and that they would receive the healing that they need.
If we’re being honest, though, many of your prayers may be you complaining to God about your spouse. Telling Him all about how they don’t deserve your trust, they just don’t even try to understand you, they are being selfish or childish, and so on. I am guilty of this myself! BUT, if we allow God to work in our hearts and speak to us, even while we are upset and complaining, a lot of times He will help us to see our other half the way he sees them. He will likely point out things in you that need to change to help the situation too!
Pray with Your Spouse
My husband and I rarely, if ever, used to pray together. A few times we would try, but it was awkward and forced. I think this is one of the things that led to us drifting away from each other. When a couple prays together it keeps God at the center of the relationship. Without God at the center, holding it together, it is bound to fall apart no matter how much we try in the flesh to hold it together ourselves. Praying together also establishes a spiritual connection and intimacy between the two of you that can be a relationship anchor in troubled times. Mr. King and I are getting better at this, but it is something we are still working on.
You all know that I LOVE books, so of course I would bring this up! Reading together is great quality time for a couple, and what you are reading together is vital to a strong marriage. The Bible is always a good choice. You can’t go wrong by digging into Gods word together. It’s great to discuss what you’re reading to see what stands out to the other and really deepen your understanding of God’s word and each other.
Another book that I HIGHLY recommend reading is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book made a huge impact on my marriage. It turns out that a lot of the problems my husband and I were having stemmed from not speaking each other’s love language. Even though we both do love each other, we both felt unloved!
We knew what my languages are (I’m “bi-lingual“), but my husband didn’t know how to speak them to me. His language was harder to pin down, and it turned out not to be what he told me he thought it was! It was like he had told me he spoke French, so I learned it and was speaking French to him, but he didn’t understand because he actually speaks German! Super frustrating, right!? But with the help of this book we got all of that straightened out. Now we both feel the love the other is trying to show us.
A few other books I want to mention that are good reads for couples are The 4 Seasons of Marriage, also by Gary Chapman, Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, and The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.
Remember The Positives
A simple but effective tip to help get your marriage back on the right track, is to remember the positives. Think about the good times you’ve had together. Make a list of things you like about your spouse, and review it often when things get tough! You could even list a few things about them that bug you, and try to find a positive side to it. For example, maybe it bothers you that your spouse can be a workaholic. A positive side of that could be that they are a good provider for your family and you always have the things you need because of his work. It may still be something you would like to see changed, but you will find yourself less angry or resentful about it if you can find something positive about it.
Have More Sex
It is difficult to want to be physically intimate with your spouse when things are not going well in your marriage. However, I believe God designed sex to be about more than physical pleasure and procreation. It re-solidifies the fact that you are one flesh. It brings you into the same rhythm for a time physically, but also unites you emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
I know it can be a challenge to carve out that time together. We have 3 kids, one of which prefers our bed to his. My husband works full time, with some over time and side jobs here and there, while I care for our home and children full time. We have commitments to our church, our friends and families, our daughter’s cheer team, and our children’s school as well. The way I see it is, you will make time for things you view as a priority. You need to decide that physical intimacy with your spouse is important and needs to be made a priority.
Set Goals Together
Setting goals together really does help a marriage to get back on track and to grow. It gives you a common purpose to work together towards. It gives you sort of a team mentality, and nobody want’s their team to lose!
For struggling marriages, it is OK to set super small and achievable goals together. Maybe it’s reading 1 book together by the end of next month. Or working together to teach the dog a new trick. Then work on thinking a little bigger, like saving up for a vacation or eliminating a debt. As you have positive conversations about your goals and achieve them together it changes the dynamic in your marriage to be more positive. You will start to see the other person as an ally rather than the competition. It will also give you both more practice in communicating, which is always something to improve on!
Let’s encourage one another! If you have anything to add to the tips I posted here, or you have an experience you’re willing to share, post it in the comments below! Feel free to leave a prayer request as well if you or your marriage is struggling in any way!