14 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage (Part 2)

Last week I began the two part series, “14 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage.” Here are 7 more practical things you can start doing today to impact your marriage for the better.

8. Go on a date at least once a month.
Do you remember the months when you were first dating your husband? You anticipated every date with eagerness and prepared for each one with great care and detail. Talking came easily because you wanted to share every detail of your lives with each other. Then, somewhere along the line, dates became infrequent or maybe even non-existent. And when you do go out, you eat in almost complete silence, unable to think of anything to talk about. It doesn’t have to be this way! Make dates a priority and try to put forth as much effort and preparation into your monthly dates as you did in your early days together. Mark your calendar, hire a babysitter, and anticipate the day you’re able to have uninterrupted time as a couple each month. Stay tuned for my series on “Dating Your Spouse: 196 Activity Ideas” (starting in July).

9. As often as you get the chance, serve him gladly.
You know those times when you’ve just sat down and gotten comfortable and then realize you forgot your glass of water or book wanted? How wonderful is it when your husband willingly goes and fetches it for you so you don’t have to get up?

Do you notice when your husband is in similar circumstances? I try to pay attention to little things my husband absentmindedly says out loud like, “I think I need a glass of water,” or “I’d like a snack right about now,” or “I could use a back massage” and meet those needs/wants if I’m able. Okay, I don’t think I’ve ever heard my husband make that last comment (he hates massages), but I’m still waiting for it. We also spend a lot of time upstairs in our office together, so whenever I take a quick trip downstairs I make a point to ask if he needs anything while I’m down there. I’m sure you can think of at least two little things you can do this week to serve your husband. Get creative. Stay tuned for my series on “56 Ways to Show Love to Your Spouse” (starting in two weeks).

10. Make a habit of kissing when you first wake up, every time you part ways, and right before going to bed.
Kissing is such a gift, isn’t it? You can take it for granted if you’re not careful. You don’t realize just how wonderful it is to kiss your spouse goodnight until he’s away on a business trip and you’re unable to. Take advantage of all the opportunities you have each day to share intimacy with your spouse. Instead of a quick peck, kiss him more passionately or linger a little bit longer. If you’re kissing goodbye before work, make him eager to back home to kiss you again.

11. Give your spouse the space and freedom to be alone or spend time with guy friends.
I struggled with this throughout our first year of marriage. I was home alone all day every day because I was too sick with Lyme Disease to work and my husband worked second shift. So in the mornings and early afternoons when he was home, I wanted him to spend that time with me. But being an introvert, my husband needed time to himself before spending another 10 hour shift with his co-workers. We finally came up with a compromise in which he was allotted time to do whatever he wanted up until lunch and after lunch he devoted his energy and attention to me until he went to work. Perhaps you need to make a similar compromise with your husband. If you have children, maybe you could take turns every other night putting the children to bed. While one has child duty, the other relaxes and has alone time. You know what is needed in your marriage- talk to your spouse about it. Just don’t guilt trip him every time he wants to spend time with his friends or be by himself every now and again.

12. Never stop learning about your spouse.
Why do we get to a certain point in our relationships where we think we know everything there is to know about a person? Is it really possible to achieve such a feat? And don’t people change? Do you have the same favorite book or movie you did when you were first dating your husband? Haven’t some of your hobbies and interests changed over the years? If so, don’t you think his favorites have changed, as well? This week, be creative in finding out something new about your husband. (Note: if your husband is like mine, he probably dreads “conversation starters” or games like “20 questions”, so be subtle in your approach).

13. Don’t nag! Instead, pray about whatever is bothering you and watch how God answers.
God is so good. I experienced His wonderful answer to a 2-year-long prayer about my husband recently. After a few months of… well, yes, nagging… I finally decided I wasn’t going to bring up the subject again, I was just going to pray about it. So every time the topic popped into my mind, instead of talking to John about it, I brought it to the Lord. When that day arrived that God so clearly answered, I was literally brought to tears of joy. And I know this isn’t an isolated event because I’ve heard other women tell similar stories about their marriages. Let’s not be like the constant dripping of a leaky roof (Proverbs 27:15) or make our husbands wish they lived in the desert rather than with us (Proverbs 21:19). Instead, let us bring our anxieties, our desires, and our frustrations to the Lord in prayer. Let us allow Him to deal with our spouse. After all, we cannot change our husbands, only God can.

14. Let him lead.
This is counter-cultural, but very Biblical. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:23-24). The Bible is very clear that we are to allow our husbands to be the leaders in our homes. If you feel he is passive in this responsibility, pray about it.

Which of these is most difficult for you to implement in your marriage? Which one of these do you hope to focus on and practice throughout this next week?

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