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How to Build a Strong and Healthy Marriage: 12 Essential Tips for A Lifelong Marriage

Is your marriage healthy?

How would you define a healthy marriage?

A part of answering that question is how you align your values to your marriage. What are you prioritizing in your relationship? What are you doing to invest in your relationship to have the marriage that you want?

I'm a strong believer that happy, healthy, and forever marriages are possible. I come from a broken home where I didn't see that modeled, but in my marriage my husband and I value putting God first. With God as our anchor, we know that God is leading the way and navigating our marriage to be a lifelong love. Jesus sets the example for us by actively demonstrating His love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and grace for us and bestowing upon us the same abilities.

One thing I wish I would have known when I got married, that I share with my clients, is that when we get married we bring with us all of our past, good and bad. That might look like a happy childhood with hiccups along the way. A semi-normal childhood. It may look like a broken home without the presence of one or both parents, so you didn't have a model of what a healthy marriage should look like. You might have grown up with two parents that argued all of the time. What we bring into our marriage affects how we do life together and can be a stumbling block in the future that takes us away from the euphoric state we once had, to one that is triggered where no skills were taught to bring about resolution or healing.

What are some of the essential ingredients you wish you'd known about relationships when you were younger? What are the values you want to instill in your marriage, whether you are thinking about getting married one day, currently engaged, or married? What foundation have you set for your marriage? Is it one built upon the ROCK or one that has no foundation? Maybe you don't know how to bring about healthy change in your marriage. Perhaps you didn't get premarital counseling or you didn't do the preparatory hard work for a forever marriage. So much time is spent on the preparation of the wedding and honeymoon, but how much effort is devoted to safeguarding your marriage for a lifelong commitment before you say, "I do?"

Some of the qualities, I love about my husband and the marriage we have built together, are that we have always agreed upon and never wavered from placing God at the center of our marriage. Whether good times or challenging seasons we go to God in prayer. We've learned to communicate with our heart, asking questions to do our best to understand one another. Even if you grew up in a happy home, it doesn't mean that there is always smooth sailing ahead. You may lose a job, find out that you have cancer, or maybe experience the loss of a loved one. Who will be your anchor during those difficult seasons? How will you get through them together?

One of the questions I ask my clients during our premarital sessions is: "Growing up, in my home..." and they complete the sentence about a particular topic and how it was for them when they were growing up. The question provides a lot of insight by helping the couple understand what "home" was like for the other person and how a particular situation was handled. It's a great conversation starter to discover more about themselves and each other and how they can use these experiences to shape their marriage for the better.

Communication in marriage is key and understanding that you are both on the same team, for each other, not against one another, helps you to paint a more positive outcome. If the goal is to win an argument, you've just hurt the person you claim to love the most. If you look at them with an understanding heart, putting yourself in their shoes or asking questions that help you understand why the other person feels hurt, angry, or unclear may help you emotionally connect better. Marriages need to create a space where each person can feel safe, vulnerable, and validated.

Here are three questions, if you are having difficulty connecting like you once did:

  1. What were the qualities that made you fall in love with your spouse?

  2. What are the activities you enjoy doing together?

  3. When do you most feel loved by your spouse?

Schedule a date night, time together where you can share intimate topics that will both help you understand each other better, as well as connect on a deeper, emotional level. My husband and I just celebrated another blessed wedding anniversary. On our date we reminisced about the time when we first met and how we fell in love. Our love only grows deeper each day.

You might have heard it said that opposites attract. What are some of those differences you fell in love with that may now be pulling you apart? Why not set some time aside for difficult conversations or topics you'd rather avoid. For instance, in my marriage, I really dislike having to talk about money. The way my husband and I relate to money is not the same. A part of that is because he grew up in a house where he had everything he needed. I had a nice childhood, but as a youth poverty was an unwelcome friend. My mother became the sole income provider with dad out of the picture, and food stamps became a necessary commodity. That is why going to the swap meet does not bring about good memories for me. We see money through distinct lenses. My husband and I have learned to schedule time to talk about important money matters for the health of our marriage. It puts me in a better head space, and money is something that he is good at managing. In this way, we also leverage our strengths.

  1. What are the tough conversations you need to schedule to be in a good head space?

  2. What strengths do you each bring into your marriage that you can leverage?

  3. How can you better handle difficult conversations, when you are not in agreement?

12 Tips For A Strong and Healthy Marriage:

  1. Put God first

  2. Always tell the truth - trust and honesty go hand-in-hand

  3. Safeguard your marriage

  4. Talk daily and communicate with an understanding heart

  5. Remember, you are a team. You are for each other's best.

  6. Work as a team for a win-win outcome by resolving problems together

  7. Support each other's dreams and goals

  8. Prioritize and invest in your relationship (date nights, doing the things you enjoy, vacations...)

  9. Show gratitude

  10. Forgive, let go, don't hold the past over your spouse

  11. Make each other laugh

  12. Remember your wedding vows to honor and respect one another

Next steps:

  1. Prioritize God as the godhead of your marriage, aligning with His values for a fruitful marriage.

  2. Identify the areas of your marriage where you are doing great and celebrate together! Sounds like a wonderful reason for a date night!

  3. Address one or two areas in your relationship that you'd like to improve for a stronger marriage and schedule time to talk and plan steps toward those goals/outcomes.

  4. Place boundaries to safeguard your marriage.

If you are in a happy, healthy marriage, congratulations! If you need support for a stronger, healthier marriage, schedule a free premarital or marriage consultation call with me today.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10


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