This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting STC in such a tangible way.
Tips to Sustain a Healthy Marriage
Did you say “I do” with stars in your eyes?
Did you think because you were marrying a Christian that your marriage would be without troubles?
Did you think that because you were madly in love that you would always feel that way?
Did you think that your spouse could not possibly ever disappoint you?
Did you think that because you waited to co-habitate until after you were married that adjusting to life as a married couple would be enjoyable?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, chances are that you have since realized that marriage isn’t always predictable and pleasurable. There was a time much earlier in my marriage when I considered myself loyally, not so much happily, married. I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the past 8 years, and I’d like to share that practical knowledge with you. Hopefully you will benefit from these nuggets as much as my husband and I have!
5 Tips to Sustain a Healthy Marriage
1. Have realistic expectations. Your spouse will do, not do, say, and not say things that will upset you. Think about the grace you want your spouse to extend to you in the midst of troubles exacerbated by miscommunication. Evaluate whether your expectations are reasonable or not and make changes where necessary.
Additionally, be careful not to overdose on “romantic” novels, movies, and songs. The world is ripe with romanticized notions of relationships and marriage. Censoring your exposure to media output will also help keep your expectations of your spouse realistic.
2. Increase your frustration tolerance. Over the years, your spouse will challenge you in many ways. View these challenges as opportunities to become a better YOU. Employing patience when it does not come naturally will actually benefit you! Your tolerance level will increase over time, promoting your ability to adjust to various scenarios when necessary. Platonic relationships may improve as well; who knows how many arguments will be averted due to practicing patience?
3. Beware of “Black and White” thinking patterns. This type of thinking is very extreme and is also termed “all or nothing” thinking. Thinking this way when a disagreement has occurred between you and your spouse puts unnecessary pressure on the relationship. This type of thinking is due to unhealthy defense mechanisms we often adopt while growing up. It is important to be aware of this type of thinking so that you can recognize it if you do it. It may take years to overcome this tendency, but being aware of it is the first step! Taking your thoughts “captive to Christ” will be important here, as will developing a mindset like we see Jesus display in the gospels.
4. Avoid making comparisons. Did you know that you can lust with your thoughts and not just your eyes? A lot of times women do this without even realizing it! ‘If my husband was more like so and so’s husband…” Chances are you have done this a time or two when you are upset with your husband. Avoid doing this at all costs! This habit is very dangerous and can breed contempt and ungratefulness toward your spouse. Employing self control in regards to your thought life will do wonders for your attitude toward yourself and others.
5. Seek therapy when necessary. Going to therapy does not mean your marriage is a lost cause. It means you care enough about your commitment to make it work at all costs, to WANT to survive the ups and downs. Go with a humble attitude and expect to work hard. HARDER THAN YOU EVER HAVE. You will learn things about yourself and your spouse that may be hard to swallow. However, you cannot make improvements unless you know what needs improving! I recommend seeing a licensed Christian therapist so that you will receive practical AND biblical advice.
I have worked hard over the years using these 5 tips in my own marriage. I find that my marriage has benefited greatly from my and my husband’s hard work – there are a huge benefits to doing this “marriage work,” together – as a team. Your marriage is sometimes your greatest testimony.