Keys to a Healthy Marriage

I don’t claim to have the perfect marriage.  But I’m a little saddened when my kids’ friends comment on how unusual Rob and I are in that we’ve been married for almost 22 years and are still madly in love.  They find it a little bizarre that we still hold hands, offer little pecks as we pass in the hall, and engage in playful banter.  We are, in fact, still courting.  Even though we bicker about some pretty stupid stuff sometimes, we both know that we’re in it for the long run, partners against all challenges, and we have no intention of letting go of that.

Although this post was specifically targeted towards men, there is some great advice here for both partners.

Be Pursuant–Actively pursue your spouse and opportunities to meaningfully connect with them.  Pretend that you’re still dating, and you’re trying to convince them that they want to spend the rest of their lives with you.  Because in a way, you still are.  Show them that they are worth pursuing.  Commit random acts of kindness whenever you see an opportunity.  LOOK for opportunities.

Be Present–Both physically AND mentally.  Take some time to bestow your full, undivided attention upon your spouse each day.  NO, being in the same room while you’re both on your iPads does not count.  Find something you enjoy doing together.

Be Playful–Not just on the topic of sexuality, but in little things too.  There are enough serious moments in our day-to-day lives; we need to share some playful moments with our spouses, even if it’s just a saucy wink as you pass each other.  Why do you think “He makes me laugh” is so often at the top of the list of things women love about their men?

Be Pride-less–This is without a doubt the hardest point to remember.  It’s the underlying source of most conflict in marriages.  “I don’t want to admit that I might have made a mistake, so I’m going to fight you tooth and nail, even though we are supposed to be on the same team.”  We are supposed to be partners with our spouses, us against the challenges this world throws our way, not us against each other. Whenever you find yourselves getting off track, take and step back and see what it’s going to take to get you both back on the same page.  Chances are, you’re both going to have to admit that you were at least a little in the wrong.  It’s hard to do, but worth it.

Be Prayerful–If you believe in God, praying for a strong, healthy relationship with your spouse should be pretty high on your list.  Even if you don’t, spending time thinking about your relationship and how you can help make it stronger is always a plus.  Dwelling more on the positives than the negatives helps adjust your own attitudes towards your spouse, as well as tempering your reactions when they do something that aggravates you.  Because it’s a guarantee that they’re going to do something that aggravates you.  Just as you will aggravate them.

And if I might follow the alliteration and add one of my own:  

Be Purposeful–None of this stuff happens on its own.  No marriage thrives when no one is putting any effort into it.  And don’t wait for your partner to be the first to start putting effort in.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  You have to be intentional about making things happen, especially when you have first made the decision to put in the extra effort.   As you go along, it will become more and more second nature until you don’t even have to think about it any more.  Trust me, it’ll happen!

Having a strong, healthy marriage is never easy, although it does get easier the more you practice.  But it’s totally worth the effort that it takes.  Think back to the reasons you got married in the first place.  If it takes hitting the reset button in order to get past something negative that has happened between you, so be it.  If recommitting yourselves either in private or in a public ceremony will give you a chance to start over, by all means, do it!  If something seems insurmountable, get some outside help from a pastor or therapist.  You’ll be all the stronger knowing that you fought through it TOGETHER.   Anything that brings you closer means that you both win!


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