It’s our anniversary this week. My husband Ryan and I will be married 17 years, but if you follow me on social media you won’t see any soul mate, sappy posts from me. No fairy tale romance professions here. Of course, we will celebrate and we have a lot to celebrate. It’s not because we aren’t happily married that I choose not to post the typical anniversary posts. I just don’t want to feed into the fairy tale.
Marriage is hard.
For the most part, those storybook relationships don’t exist – at least not consistently. That’s why they are called fairy tales.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. Our marriage is intact. We love each other and we even like each other most days. It’s just that like most couples, we have our problems from time to time.
Marriage isn’t a happily ever after.
Every marriage has its shaky moments. In our marriage we each came with our own baggage. At times we were unequally yoked. Outside forces and misguided decisions often divided us for extended periods of time. If I’m being totally honest here, there were times that giving up seemed so much easier. Regrettably, I might have even said those words more than once. I’m not sharing this to air our dirty laundry. I’m sharing this because I want you to know…
If this is your situation right now, you are not alone. There is hope.
Let me be clear, my husband is still my best friend. In fact, each time that we have come through one of these riffs we have grown separately as well as together. We are actually more of a team than we have ever been, but we are still learning and growing. We will inevitably still hit another rock or two in the future, but my hope is that each time we will come through it a little better than the past.
So, if you are at a point in your marriage where you are feeling totally exasperated, here are some things that have worked to strengthen our marriage.
Choose to love.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s worth repeating – love is a choice. When we said our marriage vows we committed to loving our spouse for the rest of our lives. If we resolve to stick to our marriage covenant and not make divorce an option we become more determined to find a solution.
The change begins with us.
So often when things go awry in a relationship it is our natural tendency to focus on what the other person is doing wrong. One of the most helpful things for me was to look at myself. Is there something in my behavior that made my spouse act or react in the way that upset me? It is when I focus on changing myself instead of changing my spouse that true progress is made.
Christ at the center of your marriage
When our marriage consists of us, our spouse and Christ at the hub we can more easily extend the grace that was so generously lavished upon ourselves when we were undeserving of it. We remember to love our spouse the way that Jesus loves us. If you aren’t yet praying together, now is a good time to start. See how God honors your efforts.
Focus on growth – your own
How can you become a better you? Look at the areas of your life that you need to improve upon and jump in. Join a gym, grab a self-help book of interest or subscribe to the endless podcasts out there. Lack of growth is where staleness in a relationship begins. Remember the change needs to begin in ourselves. Don’t look for areas where your spouse needs to grow. Focus on you. Who knows? You may inspire your spouse to do the same.
I will be the first to admit that my husband and I totally fail at doing this consistently. I can give you many reasons why we haven’t, but there isn’t a marriage book, podcast or counselor out there who won’t profess the benefits of date nights. So, do as I say and not as I have done and get out of the house! (And yes, we are working on it. I promise!)
Don’t compare your relationship to those on social media. Remember you are only seeing their best. Every relationship has its flaws and most of us keep those tucked neatly behind our camera screens.
Lastly, keep in mind why you married your spouse. Recall what made you commit in the first place. That person you married is still there – your best friend. Commit to commit and see where it takes you. Marriage is definitely worth fighting for!
Want to know some of my favorite marriage podcasts? Have a prayer request? Want to share some of the things that worked for your marriage? I would love to hear from you!
Also, if you know someone who would benefit from this post please share!
Until next time,
No one can go back and change how it started but a new future for any marriage can begin the moment one person begins to invest in it.”
Marriage doesn’t make you happy–you make your marriage happy.”
-Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
“Marriage: If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”
– F. Burton Howard
All quotes are from happywivesclub.com