Want some unsolicited marital advice? Well, you have come to the right place! haha! Please don't misunderstand--I have only been married for four years (almost five), so we are still in the infant/toddler stages of marriage. And I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers. I am not a licensed counselor, either. BUT ... over the years I have received some great advice from folks, and I wanted to share--and to hear from you on any great marriage tips that you may have.
photo by The Light Photography
Here we go ... in no particular order ...
- Keep your husband happy. I'll start with one that always makes me smile ... if not turn red! LOL! It's from a former co-worker who is older and wiser. This is what she says, ladies: "If you keep your husband happy in the bedroom, he'll be happy in all the other rooms in the house!" I'll leave it at that!
- Forsaking all others. Many of us used this phrase in our wedding vows, but did we truly understand what we were saying? What does it mean to forsake all others? To me, it means that our spouses should come second only to Christ. That means that our spouses come before our parents, our siblings, our friends--and yes, even our children. That one may be a surprise, but it's true. Our children are a product of our love for our spouses--and one day, our children will be grown up and out of the house, which will be occupied with just us and our husbands. So our relationships with our DHs should come first, and vice versa (in case there are any men reading this). I was reminded by a quote I saw in a friend's photobook recently that went something like this: "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." One other thing that comes to mind when I think of "forsaking all others": the women on the Titanic who refused to get into lifeboats because they did not want to leave their husbands. Perhaps they did not understand the gravity of the situation, but it's just something that comes to mind.
- Ask for and be free with forgiveness. Some of the most important words in any relationship, in my opinion, are "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" And "I forgive you." Of course, "I love you" is way up there, too, but seeking and granting forgiveness is so important.
- Ladies, respect your husbands. During our premarital counseling--which I highly recommend, by the way--we learned that men need to feel respected, and women need to feel loved. Do you respect your husband? How do you speak to him? I have to be careful on this one--in my tone of voice and how I word things, especially when I am stressed out. What can I do to make my husband feel respected in our home and when we are out? I try to be aware of this and try not to question him in front of others. I think showing respect means different things to different people.
- Men, love your wives. Here's one for the men, and it comes straight from God's word: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Many times, women get stuck on the Scripture about wives submitting to their husbands. But we mustn't overlook what husbands are called to do: to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And ... gave Himself up for her. What a sacrifice. That is a hard assignment, men. Are you living up to it?
- Get counseling if you need it. This is a bit of advice that was shared with us as newlyweds. There is NO SHAME in seeking professional help with the most important relationship you have next to your relationship with Christ. If your spouse refuses to go, then go alone.
- Keep Christ at the center of your marriage. I am not going to lie--this one takes work. Pray together. Worship together. Talk about the sermon. Study the Bible together. Or if you can't both go to Bible study, maybe one of you can go and then discuss the lesson with your spouse. As the Bible says in Ephesians 4:12, "a cord of three strands is not quickly broken." The three strands--you, your spouse, and Christ.
- Seek God's wisdom. Speaking of the Bible--there is some great marital advice to be found there.
- Learn your spouse's love language--and speak it. See http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/.
- Pray for each other. I recommend the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.
- Guard your heart. Protect and defend and fight for your marriage. As Johnny Cash might say, walk the line! Don't put yourself in a situation that might even look questionable. Watch how you dress and act. Don't share intimate details with people of the opposite sex. I'm sure you know that many affairs start off as friendships ... as affairs of the heart. I'm not saying you can't be friends with people of the opposite sex, but there is a line that is not to be crossed. There are ministers who refuse to be alone with a woman unless it is his wife. What a great policy. Inconvenient? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.