There are two types of people that completely understand the horrors of conflict- veterans and married people.
Being a 13 year veteran of the marital trenches myself, I have seen my fair share of difficulty in the holy matrimony department. If we were to be honest, I think most every married person would agree that it can be hard sometimes. You put two people that close together for very long and there are bound to be sparks. Or large forest fires.
We are wired to be self-serving and sometimes our spouses just get in the way of that don’t they?
Are you having struggles in your marriage? Can you identify with the incomparable B.B. King when he sings “The Thrill is Gone”? You are not alone! But you don’t have to stay there.
Here are a few things I have picked up along the way to help navigate some common pitfalls that have effected my marriage. Maybe you can use them too! They are simple- but as my wife can attest I still have not mastered them!
1- Have Date Nights
Just because you are married now (and maybe have been for a long time) doesn’t mean you stop dating your spouse! Make a commitment to set aside at least one night a month to have a “date night” with just the two of you. Hire a babysitter and go out to eat, go do something fun together or just sit in a coffee shop and talk. Two rules: 1) Don’t go to a movie because you will just sit and watch it and will not talk! 2) Don’t talk about work!
2- Pray together
It doesn’t have to be scheduled like an appointment (although it can be). Just make regular time to stop and spend time praying with and for your spouse. Ask about what’s on their heart and how they are spiritually and then let them hear you pray out loud for them. It is amazing what this one simple act can do for a marriage!
3- Keep Short Accounts
Remember that we are all broken and imperfect people. Odds are, you will be reminded all the time just how broken your spouse is which can lead to all sorts of disagreements, conflicts, disappointments, etc. In those moments, stop and take the time to think about all of the grace you have been shown and then bend it outward to your spouse. I know it can be difficult but you’re probably no peach all of the time either! Learn to keep a clean slate. I have heard of some couples, that were having difficulties, simply sitting down and writing their disappointments on a dry erase board and together wiping them off as a commitment to simply look past the faults and forgive each other. If you are a believer in Christ, it is often helpful to remind ourselves of the gospel and that marriage is to be a shadow of the grace that Christ has towards His church. As Elsa would say…sometimes we just need to “Let it Go”. (Ok…some of you got that reference)
4- Be Honest
Sometimes, all a marriage needs is a little honesty. Create a safe environment where each of you can really share what you think and how you feel with no repercussions. For this to work, you have to commit to not try and “fix” each other. Everyone longs for someone they can just confide in and when you do that with your spouse it can create a great sense of intimacy. Commit to there being NO SECRETS between you!
5- Get A Handle on Finances
Disagreements about money kindle marital conflict faster than most other fuels. You have to make sure you both have a plan on how you handle money. Make financial decisions TOGETHER and talk about the state of your finances regularly. Make a budget TOGETHER and stick to it best you can! Quite a few arguments could be avoided if couples simply learned to plan TOGETHER and communicate TOGETHER about that plan frequently. Did you notice I said TOGETHER a lot? Yeah that was on purpose.
Marriage really is a gift even if it feels more like a burden sometimes. My wife is used by God to make me more like Jesus. She smooths my rough edges – even though that’s not often a comfortable process. I am still learning how to do this marriage thing and I think I will be a student for a long, long time. 🙂
These are just a few random ideas. Pick out what you can use and throw the rest away!
Maybe you have some ideas you’d like to share? Please feel free to do just that in the comment section below.