I believe every couple believes their wedding day is just the first day of decades of marital bliss. They’ve found their soulmate … the person who “completes” them and they just know this is the start of their happily ever after.
Then the honeymoon ends and reality hits.
Paul wrote the following about marriage…
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Ephesians 5:21 (NLT)
Since “submit” is such a trigger word, I like the New Life Version best…
Be willing to help and care for each other because of Christ. By doing this, you honor Christ.
And we want to, don’t we?
We go into marriage believing we will help and care for each other.
But then life happens and building a strong marriage is harder than we thought it would be.
Rev and I will be celebrating our anniversary in a couple of days and even after all these years, he continues to be my favorite person in the whole world.
We get asked often to share our marriage advice because … well, we’ve been happily together for a long time!
So, I’ve come up with a really short list for those times when I’m sitting with a friend or acquaintance and they’re looking for one or two things we’ve done that have blessed our relationship.
2 of My Favorite Tips for a Strong Marriage
1. Never Stop Flirting
Not with other people. Never with other people! Just with each other. Remember all those playful little things you said and did while you were dating to get each other’s attention and keep things fun.
Don’t stop! Flirting says, “You’re still the one for me! I choose you!”
2. Stay Close to God as a Couple and Individually
Flirting may be my favorite advice but I believe the true secret that will help your marriage last is to SEEK God First together and individually.
We all need God’s help to remind us when we forget – how to listen, how to serve, how to work together, how to be patient and kind, how to forgive, how to keep a promise … how to love like Jesus.
- Read the Bible
- Count your blessings
- Remember what God has done in the past
- Do your best to apply God’s Word and forgive each other quickly when you fall short.
If you’d like my longer answer to the best marriage advice question, you check out some of my thoughts and I even asked some friends for their thoughts as well. Check them out here…
The Best Secrets and Advice that Will Help Your Marriage Last
12 Helpful Posts that will Make Your Marriage Stronger
How to Bless Your Marriage by Being Grateful
31+ “What If” Questions that will Bless Your Marriage
And if you’re looking for ways to pray for your marriage, you can get ideas here…
As you can see, I love to write about the things I believe we can do to bless our marriages and make them better. I always prefer to approach life from the positive … from a “get to” perspective.
But a number of years ago, Rev and I also made a list of things to avoid in your relationships if you want a strong marriage that lasts. So, as promised…
Things to Avoid When You Want a Strong Marriage
1. Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking.
Sure you think you know them better than anyone but even as close as you are … you each look at life through the lens of your own personal perspective. A perspective that comes from your personality, abilities, background, and years of experience.
So … ask questions and LISTEN patiently and kindly to the answers. You might be surprised and learn something you never knew before.
2. Don’t withdraw with a passive/aggressive silent treatment.
If you need to take a break in the midst of a disagreement … say so. It’s okay to pause to pray and think but make it clear that this disagreement doesn’t define your relationship.
Shutting down gives the message that winning the argument is more important to you than nurturing and improving your closeness.
3. NEVER use the words never or always in an argument.
It’s probably not true anyway. Even if your spouse does something way more often than you’d like … making it sound like that’s all they do is distracting and defeating if you’re trying to resolve a problem.
4. Don’t hold a grudge or rehash the past.
When couples continually bring up past hurts it can seem like that’s all they remember. So, work to forgive each other quickly, let go of the hurt, and stick to the issue at hand when you don’t agree.
5. Don’t pout, whine, nag or fight with sarcasm.
Use your words! It’s almost impossible to understand each other if we don’t calmly and clearly explain where we’re coming from. Pouting, whining, and nagging are completely self-defeating. And sarcasm … well, when was the last time you wanted to do anything for someone who tried to manipulate you with snarky comments.
6. Don’t accumulate small problems and turn them into a big one.
When Rev and I were first married, I’d hold on to the little things he said that hurt my feelings … one would add to another and then another until I’d finally erupt in a meltdown of tears and accusations.
My patient husband would then say, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings. If you tell me I’ve done right away … I will do my best not to do it again. I love you.”
His reaction gave me the courage to trust him and not turn little off-handed comments into bigger problems.
7. Don’t complain about your spouse to others.
It may make you feel better for a moment or two when your friends agree with you about what a jerk your spouse has been but it will always hurt your relationship in the long run because…
- You can’t control what your friends will share and how far your “story” will go.
- You are damaging your spouse’s reputation and how other’s view him/her.
- You are weakening the trust you ultimately want to maintain.
8. Don’t blame your partner for your “bad” day.
Life is stressful. Jobs are demanding. Children are exhausting. And that’s just normal everyday stuff.
It’s fine to vent and even complain to each other … just don’t communicate that your bad day was your spouse’s fault. Strive to work together to strengthen your family and achieve your goals.
9. Don’t try to “fix” your spouse.
I learned a very long time ago that you can’t change someone else; you can only change yourself.
So, I try to ask myself if I might be the one who needs “fixing”!
Then I pray, and I turn to God’s Word, and I ask Him to give me wisdom … so I can choose to focus on the things that are true, honorable, and lovely while I leave the rest to God.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6–8
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
10. Don’t expect perfection.
Your spouse is not going to be perfect this side of heaven and you’re not going to be either. Don’t expect it! Give the grace you want to receive.
You’re a team … not a perfect team but a team who’s goal is to grow in love, faith, grace, and wisdom.
Finally, after all those don’ts I have one last do…
Love one another.
Show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8
And the kind of love God wants for us looks like this…
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.1 Corinthians 13:4–7
I’ve read recently that before you marry someone you should replace the word “love” with the person’s name. And it’s a good guideline.
But once we are married, I believe the best thing we can do is replace the word “love” with our own name. Because if we wait to give “1 Corinthians 13” love until our husband or wife gives it first … we will never have it.
So remember, don’t expect perfection … give the kind of grace you want to receive. Stay close to God as a couple and individually. AND do your best to add a little laughter and fun to every day.
I’m asking God to bless you and give you a strong marriage today and for years to come!
We would love to pray for you.
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