8 Practices for a Healthy Marriage
My husband and I will celebrate four years of marriage at the very end of this month. Four years is nothing at all in the grand scheme of things, but we have learned a few lessons along the way. Navigating your marriage isn't always an easy task (if you've ever tried to blend two different decor styles, you know what I mean!). Over the years, we've learned to practice these tasks to keep our marriage strong, fulfilling, and happy.
God has always been a part of my and my husband's relationship. When we first started dating, we would occasionally have conversations about spirituality and God on the surface. You know the conversations I'm talking about - the ones where you talk about the "easy" parts, but you never dig deep enough to really have an intimate conversation. Over the years, we've delved more deeply into our spirituality together and have much deeper, meaningful conversations about God. Not only does practicing and discussing spirituality enhance your relationship and your beliefs, but it also brings a more intimate level of meaning to your marriage.
Believe me. There are going to be days when you are overly stressed, tired, anxious, or just plain irritated. It happens to the best of us. Remember that your spouse is in your corner, so when you're feeling like taking out your stress and anxiety on him or her, take a deep breath and remember to practice kindness. You'll probably find that many of your anxieties and stressors vanish when you practice kindness with your spouse. And over time, the thought of even taking out your irritation on them will simply disappear.
My husband and I love to travel, try new restaurants, and practice new hobbies. We enjoy doing these things together because it's time well-spent, we continuously learn about one another (who knew both of us enjoyed anchovies so much!?), and trying something new brings us closer together. Whatever your adventure may be, plan it and experience it together.
Practice the art of giving
I'm not talking about buying each other gifts all the time. I'm talking about practicing giving your spouse your time, attention, and gifts already within you. That's why you fell in love in the first place, right? Continue to give one another these gifts and you may find that the honeymoon phase of your marriage never goes away.
My husband will be the first to tell you that, as an introvert, he sometimes has to pull, yank, and lasso thoughts and information out of me. It's not that I don't want to share these thoughts of mine with him, it's just that, as an introvert, it's not in my nature to always share them. I've learned over the past few years that it's important for me to let myself be vulnerable and intentionally share my thoughts with him to strengthen our marriage. In turn, he knows that sometimes it just takes me a little longer to share my thoughts, and he is very patient with me. Those things that make you vulnerable? Share them with your spouse. It's very freeing.
Practice being still
Sometimes you'll want to practice adventure, as mentioned above, but there are also those times you'll want to be still. Enjoy a night at home together. Relish in the quiet hums of your surroundings. Just being with your spouse, without even worrying about conversation, is a joy. Don't feel like you always have to be on the go or talk about what John told Mary at work today.
Practice laughing together
It's no secret that laughing is an instant mood-lifter. My husband is the best at making me laugh - sometimes at inappropriate times. But he knows exactly how to make me laugh and I try really hard to be just as funny as him. Isn't it funny (no pun intended) how laughing makes you feel closer to a person? Always keep each other laughing and you'll never get bored.
My husband and I are both small business owners. That means that, at times, we are both completely wrapped up in our work schedules - and not always at the same time. It's easy to do. Early in our relationship, we just accepted this as reality and were fine with it. But as time went on, something was tugging at our hearts. Why were we making work one of our top priorities when, really, our marriage and family should be at the top of the list? Over time, we've practiced walking away from work at the appropriate time to concentrate on nurturing our marriage. I now have set office hours, where I once worked at any random hour during the day or night. I stopped giving my cell phone number to clients and stopped answering (most) emails on the weekend. I love my clients dearly, but I am a much better, calmer, and happier designer and business owner when I put my marriage first. Only good things can come from making your marriage a top priority.