Marriage is challenging, but it is the one and only context for developing the greatest human love possible. It is well worth the work, and out of this world if you and your spouse work together as a team. Take a few minutes to study the 10 Hot Tips for Building a Strong Marriage.
- TALK ABOUT TEAM DREAMS TOGETHER. This is intimate. Talk about your shared vision for life together, who you want to be as individuals and as a couple. Hearts go deep through this process. Listen, and really care. Remember, the two of you MUST now travel together as one team. It is not possible to have diverging dreams as a married couple, so your dreams will need to be compatible; if they are not, you will need to compromise for love.
- BE AN ENCOURAGER. Learn to become a more encouraging person. If you are not good at encouraging then you need to get your act together and change. Your partner needs needs your encouragement. After all, we’re all just kids when it comes down to it, and we need the uplifting words of others. A culture of encouragement in the home will create an environment where marital success is much easier.
- ACCEPT & APPRECIATE DIFFERENCES. Let’s face it: Each spouse has a greatly different personality type, upbringing, gender, set of expectations, interests, and hobbies. This reality will certainly spark a bit of conflict during the first year of marriage. This is natural, so don’t get too flustered. Learning to understand and work with the differences between you and your spouse is a normal part of marriage. And this process is very valuable for you personally, and here is why: It provides a wonderful impetus for you to mature in a way that singleness could never provide you. Learn to accept and appreciate the differences of your spouse. This is how you want to be treated, right?
- YOU NEED TO CHANGE. You personally went into marriage with major flaws. You did — I promise. You could easily live life without dealing with those flaws when you were single, but now those flaws will cause problems in the context of marriage if they are not dealt with. Before you were married your partner could always escape your flaws — but that is not possible now. He or she must live with them. So be willing to look realistically at yourself, spot your weaknesses, and be willing to change.
- STAY PHYSICAL. Hug in the morning; kiss before bed. Hold hands in public. Show love through physical touch. Everybody needs this, and it will keep the warmth and fondness in your marriage that makes life good.
- ALWAYS RESOLVE DISPUTES BEFORE BEDTIME. Going to bed back to back on opposite sides of the bed can have seriously negative affects. It can thrust your anger and bitterness deep into your subconscious, and it will hurt you personally more than you may realize. Trust me: You should stay up as late as you have to in order to deal with it, but always resolve the issue before you fall asleep.
- GOT GOD? An ancient proverb said: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” You, me, and God results in that cord of three strands that is not easily broken. I personally believe that this is the most critical success factor in marriage. As each spouse develops their own personal relationship with God, it will cause them both to want to be better people, and this will deeply improve their marriage relationship. Here’s how it works: (1) Apply the relationship principles found in the Bible, (2) follow God’s ways in your personal life, and (3) find a strong faith community to get involved in. The self-improvement that comes from sincerely following God’s ways will transform a person into an amazing spouse.
- DO YOUR BEST TO LOOK YOUR BEST. As people get comfortable with their spouses, they tend to feel less self-conscious. This is probably a good thing; however, we should not forget to look good for the one we are supposed to look good for. A faithful spouse will have eyes only for you, so make sure that you make this faithfulness as easy as possible. Love definitely goes deeper than looks, but try for them the same way you want them to try for you. Work out, eat healthy, and dress to kill for him or her once in awhile.
- “I’M SORRY” & “I FORGIVE YOU”. Both of these are extraordinarily important phrases in marriage. Say you are sorry. It takes humility on your part, but it means a lot to your spouse. Say you’ll try to do better, and really try to improve. As you expect forgiveness from your spouse, so you should also extend forgiveness often. This is HUGE, and your ability to forgive will likely be a major determining factor in the survival or your marriage. You are both imperfect, and will need a whole lot of forgiveness. In fact, some of the lessons you will need to learn will take years of failure before you finally get it. You and your spouse are in the marriage marathon, and authentic unconditional love does not put limits on forgiveness. Unforgiveness also destroys the insides of the one who holds it, so that’s another good reason to forgive.
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP ON EACH OTHER!
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