20 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong

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I’ve put together a list of things that I have learned over the years of developing a godly relationship, that can help to keep a relationship healthy and strong.

I am by no means saying that my relationship with my husband is perfect. In fact, I am sharing this list with you because we’ve been at some pretty low places in our relationship where we weren’t even sure we would stay together. But these are things that we have learned and put into practice from reading books, articles, and watching videos on Godly marriage and relationships. And we saw for ourselves how much these things can make a difference and really change things around for the best!

We still don’t get it right all the time, and our sinful nature likes to take over, but when we do our best to apply these things, and bring every situation to God, our relationship gets stronger in the end.

So without further ado…here are 20 ways to keep your marriage strong!

  1. Never leave without saying “I love you”
  2. Don’t leave without a kiss (Even if you’re angry with each other, it is a way to let the other know that you still care for them in that moment regardless of emotions)
  3. Don’t speak badly about him/her to anyone including family and close friends. Don’t vent to others when you are in a fight. Bring it to God, and He will give you the peace and answers you need. (Sometimes other people can make matters worse because they naturally want to side with you but it may make you feel worse about the situation. And they may end up having a lasting negative feeling toward your spouse even after the fight is over and you’ve made up)
  4. If he does something kind (like washing the dishes after dinner), but doesn’t do it the way you would (doesn’t rinse or dry them off right away), show him that you appreciate his kind deed regardless, and try not to bring up what he could’ve done better.
  5. Say “thank you” OFTEN. Whenever he/she does something kind or thoughtful, let them know that you appreciate it, it is nice to hear. (Especially if it is their love language) Don’t just assume that he/she knows.
  6. Protect your minds and hearts, and don’t watch or listen to anything ungodly. Fill  your home with things that are of God: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is purewhatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8)
  7. This one goes back to #3 but a little more specific and I feel is so important. Do not talk about your marital issues with those of the opposite sex, as it gives the wrong idea and can mess with your emotions. Again, take it to God. What happens between you and your husband/wife isn’t everyone else’s business. This is a great way to show respect to each other, and yourself.
  8. Let them have space when they need it. Ladies, a lot of us could spend every second of every day with our man, trust me I KNOW. But what I’ve come to learn is that men aren’t exactly wired the way we are. Sometimes they just need some time to chill and do their own thing for a while. It doesn’t mean they hate us. A lot of times it helps them to think better and process all of the many emotions they tend to hold in.

I just want to throw this in there. My husband has 2 days off during the week and the rest of the time works the overnight shift. So, naturally I try to get in every bit of time I can with him. For a long time, I would get upset when he didn’t want to spend every second with me. I took it as him not caring about our time together, or just wanting to be away from me. But once I learned how men tend to process things, I realized that it is necessary and healthy for him to take this time. And usually, he wants me by his side when he is playing his game so that we can hold hands, but just be doing separate things. Most of the time, he actually talks with me about what is going on in his game and wants me somewhat included, so that’s always nice! So, we started intentionally setting aside a few hours on one of his days off to do this.

9. Listen to him. And I mean REALLY listen. Even if you couldn’t give a rip about the things he/she is into, it shows that you care about them and their love for those things and I guarantee it will mean the world to them.

10. If something that you do bothers or upsets him/her, don’t put them down for feeling that way. Even if you don’t agree that he/she should be bothered, they deserve respect just as much as you do. So saying things like “wow, that seriously bothers you?” or “a real man wouldn’t be upset about that”, are big no-nos.

11. FLIRT. Touch him/her. And I don’t just mean in a sexual way. Brushing your hand over his back. Playing with her hair. Grabbing his hand when you’re walking together. Coming up behind her and putting your arms around her. Little ways to show affection and let the other person know that you love being in their presence.

12. Support each other through everything.

13. Be each other’s biggest cheerleader whenever something great happens in the other’s life.

14. Greet him/her enthusiastically. Show them how much you missed them!

15. Talk about problems as they arise. Don’t hold them in and let them build. If things start to get too heated between you two, let the other person know that you just need a minute to cool down and you will be back so you can both figure things out. And then go into the other room, go for a drive, whatever you need to clear your head, and get in prayer. This will help you both so you’re not coming at each other with pure anger and can see things with a better perspective.

16. Pray with each other as often as possible. It is a special thing when your spouse raises you up in prayer. It is a beautiful way to love on someone.

17. Have a date night once a week if possible. It doesn’t even have to cost money. Even if it is just you two ordering your favorite pizza and having a movie marathon together. Just something to take your minds off of the stresses of the week and just focus on each other and spending time together.

18. Put the phone away when you’re with each other. Phones can literally ruin relationships. Ours did at one point a while back. There was a time when both my husband and I would be scrolling through Facebook while right next to each other, not saying a word. Then there were times when one of us would be using our phones while the other felt left out and unwanted. Trust me, I understand that this is a habit for most of us. We’re used to everyone being glued to their phones. But honestly, being on your phone when you’re with friends or family is a bit rude. So, it is the same with your spouse. It took us a bit to completely get rid of this habit, but now we never go on our phones other than to check the time or weather. And we get to enjoy and really embrace every moment together. You only get so much time with one another, so make the most of it!

19. Let your spouse know how proud you are of them. Often.

20. Encourage and verbally acknowledge the good things about your spouse. Speak life into them daily. Let them know that you see how hard they work and you admire that about them. How gifted they are in a certain area. How big of a heart they have. Even if they aren’t doing things perfectly or to what you think their potential is, the more life you speak into them, the more they will want to become even more of the amazing person you see them as.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope some of these were helpful. Again, we don’t do these perfectly all the time, but I just know from experience that the times when we do apply these, our relationship just gets much stronger and they get easier to do over time.

I wish you all the best with your relationships! Let me know in the comments what you think and if you do any or most of these and how it has affected your relationships!

What is Love?

“Love” is such a common word we hear and use isn’t it?

The dictionary definition of “love is:

  1. (noun) an intense feeling of deep affection.

  2. (noun) a great interest and pleasure in something.

  3. (verb) feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone

 

We use it a lot when expressing our appreciation or enjoyment of something.

“I LOVE the Chalupas from TacoBell!”

“I LOVE the way you did your hair”

“I LOVE that shirt”

…..you get it.

 

Basically, “love” according to this definition is a feeling, right? An intense feeling toward something.

Now, let’s just throw this out there..if a man and a woman are dating, and the man swears at, belittles, and regularly insults the woman, but states that he loves her, then according to this definition, we can’t exactly say whether he does or not. Because love is just a feeling, and we can’t claim to know someone else’s feelings regardless of whether it shows through their actions or not. 

So, this woman continues to allow that man to treat her that way because she believes that he loves her and doesn’t want to mess that up.

That doesn’t sound good right? Obviously, any other person would say that the man doesn’t love her because his actions prove otherwise. Also, the woman isn’t truly showing love by enabling the man to treat her with such wrong actions, right? She may be reacting out of fear, being used to the relationship and not wanting to try over, or maybe he does offer some positive things to her life that she doesn’t want to lose. So, in a case like this, the actions of both don’t indicate love, but the supposed feelings do.

Well, let’s think about another, more regular occurrence, based on actions and feelings not lining up…

Let’s say a couple got married 1 year ago, and they’ve been getting into more fights since they started living together. We’ll bring in a specific argument, and you decide whether the actions are loving or not.

The husband has been taking on extra work and stressing out lately because they are planning to have a child and he wants to be able to provide. Because of this, he has been distant lately, trying to figure things out. He hasn’t been affectionate, spends most of his free time in front of the tv, and they haven’t gone on a date in a couple of months. The wife takes her husband’s distance as him not caring about her or wanting to spend time with her, so she gets angry and resentful. Her husband comes home one day and tries to speak with her about her day, but because she has been holding in all of her pain, she just says “fine” in an angry tone and then walks away into the other room. Her husband is left wondering what he did wrong, which adds to the stress he already has, and is upset because he doesn’t want his wife to hurt, but she won’t speak to him.

In this situation, we see some unloving actions all throughout right? And both the husband and wife feeling unloved as well. But isn’t this a situation we may even go through ourselves often? The man/woman you’re with upsets you deeply with their actions and you don’t FEEL love towards them for the moment. You feel angry, upset, disappointed, maybe even unloved yourself. You don’t feel butterflies, happiness and lovey-dovey during those moments.

If these types of actions and feelings continue for too long, that is usually where people start to say “I don’t think I am in love with them anymore”, I think we need to end things. “In love” is just yet another way of saying “have deep feelings for”.

So, many relationships are based on feelings for each other, and once those feelings are gone and aren’t seeming to change anytime soon, that is when people decide to call it off. And some may say they “love” someone, but their actions clearly prove otherwise. Therefore, can we maybe consider that this popular definition of love being a feeling, doesn’t have any real value? It doesn’t benefit anyone or even mean anything most of the time.

Many of us say “words don’t mean anything, I need to see actions”. And rightfully so.

Feelings come and go, CONSTANTLY. We are all imperfect human beings who can’t be what everyone wants us to be. Therefore, we will upset people that we care deeply for. We won’t always get along with people. That’s just how it is. That doesn’t mean you care about those people any less, it just means you’re human.

Now, let’s look at the Bible’s meaning of love for a second:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

Personally, I like this definition a lot better. It gives us something to work towards. Something that is actually practical for our lives and relationships.

See, love isn’t just accepting people’s wrong doing towards us, or pushing through toxic relationships, that is not healthy for anyone and is a whole other situation that needs to be handled.

Love is choosing to show these qualities even during times when we don’t feel like it. When it is the hardest to do so. Anyone can be kind when someone else is being kind. Anyone can be patient when there’s nothing testing your patience. Anyone can exercise hope, when there’s much to be hopeful for. Anyone can persevere when things are going wonderfully. But love is choosing to do those things even when we DON’T feel like it. Not withholding love when we’re sad, because we chose to love this person and they are God’s creation. Withholding our love because of emotions is (I’m going to be blunt here) selfish.

I am not going to sit here and pretend I haven’t done this myself. I most definitely have reacted more times than I would like to admit based on my feelings. And have withdrawn and been unloving. We all do it. But the problem comes when we think we are entitled to behaving this way and even use our feelings as a way to justify those behaviors.

Not being “in love” with someone anymore means nothing. Because you can easily fall back “in love” again in a few hours. So, the more that we study this biblical definition of love and make the choice to do those things even when we’re at our worst, the closer we are getting to Christ, and the stronger our relationships will be. I am not saying it is going to be easy in the slightest. In fact, you’re going to mess up at times, and you may feel like giving up often. But, it is beyond worth it. When you’re having a hard time, bring it to God, let Him give you the strength to keep showing love.

Again, there is much more involved when it comes to abusive and toxic relationships, and you may need to go speak with someone to help you more in depth, but this goes for any normally healthy friendships and relationships that may be going through hard times. Or if you’re just confused about what love actually is, or if it has been losing it’s meaning to you lately, I hope that this can help you a bit.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any questions or would like to comment on it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Don’t forget to subscribe to be updated on future posts.

 

Not the wedding I dreamed of…

I honestly never used to picture what my wedding would be like until social media became a thing. All of those picturesque, fairy-tale like scenes on Pinterest. The big, flowy ball gowns with diamonds and jewels throughout, perfectly fitted on beautiful brides to look like princesses.

Every venue was just gorgeous, packed with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of guests, loads of decorations neatly and precisely placed, and professional photographers who could capture each moment perfectly.

The more I saw these pictures and heard the stories, the more I wanted it for myself.

I created my own Wedding board on Pinterest and got to work! I added the exact bouquet I wanted, the color theme, MY dress that I NEEDED to have in order to even consider getting married, and tons of pictures of rustic barns because nothing else could possibly do.

This was all before I was engaged. Before Stephen and I even spoke about engagement actually. But it was what I knew needed to happen in order for me to be a happy bride one day.

Once Stephen did propose to me, you better believe I immediately started planning all the little details of our wedding.

Ring pic

The thing I started realizing? In order to get the Pinterest wedding I always wanted, we would have to go into debt…a LOT of it. And, even while just in the beginning stages on planning, we were already getting extremely stressed out. I wanted to get married the next year, but with everything we needed to do and the money we needed to save, it would have to be put off for much longer.

I was so conflicted. I prayed every day about it. I wanted to have a beautiful wedding, something I would be happy with. This was MY day! But, as the days were passing, my desire to marry the man God had for me grew stronger.

Each day I prayed, it seemed that I wanted the big, fancy wedding less and less. I began to realize that maybe my desire for it was based on what society says is “ideal”, and not what I truly wanted after all.

I asked myself “what do I want right now”? All that kept coming to me was “To marry Stephen and start a family together.”

So, I thought about it..If we were to put this off and invest all of our money into a one-day celebration that will be over in just a few hours, then we wouldn’t be able to start our family for quite a few years. We wouldn’t be able to save for a house. We would probably be extremely stressed out during the planning and the day of, that we wouldn’t remember half of what happened that day.

We would be more concerned with our guests than our first precious moments as husband and wife.

Now, please don’t take this as me putting down anyone who chooses to have a big wedding. We still plan to have one ourselves one day as a vow renewal! If you have the money and patience to plan it, go for it! It will be amazing.

But for us personally, we are both very simple people. We don’t need much. Nor do we really want much more than what we have. And this was a realization I am truly glad God brought me to. I realized…this wedding isn’t about ME, its about Him and our coming together as one for HIM.

The crazy thing is, I didn’t exactly bring it up to Stephen. He actually brought it up to me. He threw out the possibility (he says he was half-serious, not sure what I would say about it), “what if we just got married this weekend”?

At the time, we had been having a bit of an argument because I was stressed about it all and we both just wanted to be married already. I wasn’t sure whether to take what he said seriously, but I honestly didn’t care anymore, I ended up agreeing to it. So, he said we would make it happen.

I was in shock that we were actually going to be doing this! But as time got closer and closer, it just felt right and everything fell into place perfectly.

I will say, it took a bit longer than that weekend, but each day we were taking care of something for our special day. We got our birth certificates, then our marriage license. Then the next day we went and got our wedding rings and told our parents. We somehow got the perfect officiant to help us with our vows.

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I found a beautiful dress that fit my personality to a T. And my family was able to make up some decorations to make our little ceremony special. We invited only our immediate family. This one was difficult at first since we wanted our close friends to be apart of our special day, but they were all very understanding.

So, we got our wedding planned out within a week and a half! Throughout that whole week, Stephen and I were praising God for His goodness and blessing our relationship. He was moving things along for us to make this happen. I knew it was all meant to be this way.

 

The ceremony was beautiful. It was done at a nearby park in front of an archway that my parents set up in the perfect spot, right near the water fountain. I asked my sister and sister-in-law to use their photography skills and capture each moment. We got to focus on our love and devotion to God and each other, while our family was there to witness it. Then after saying our goodbyes, we headed off to our gorgeous hotel for the night.

Not much about our wedding was traditional, or anything like what I thought I wanted years ago…it was even better! It was more “us” than anything else we could have had. To us it was genuine, elegant, simple, and not so crazy stressful! And now we can do exactly what we have been wanting for a while now, to start our own family and glorify God through our marriage.

I write this not only to share with you a bit about how our special day was, but for anyone who may be considering a small ceremony themselves, to know that it can be just as special and beautiful as any Pinterest wedding. Everyone is different, with unique priorities and desires for life. Go with what makes you and your future spouse happy. Don’t listen to what everyone else wants for you or thinks would be best. If you stick to what makes you feel best, you will have zero regrets and be so glad you did it!

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Thank you so much for stopping by and reading! I hope you enjoyed my little story and maybe got something out of it for yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What kind of wedding are you planning on having?

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Deciding to Work From Home

I’ve had a boss since I was 16. At the time, I just wanted to have some freedom to get what I wanted, when I wanted. So getting a standard, minimum-wage paying job was the only option I knew. I was a waitress for 4 years, then went onto working as a cashier at a grocery store, then a bakery clerk, and then back to fast food (Chick-Fil-A).

When I was in my teens, I was A-Okay with these types of jobs because it provided me with some extra cash to pay my small bills and not have to pinch pennies when I was out with my friends.

I never knew what I wanted to do when I left high school, so I just went to my community college to study some different things and hopefully find something I loved. And although I realized a lot of things I DIDN’T enjoy, I was never truly set on a specific career path. So I left school, and continued working in fast food and retail.

I figured, at LEAST I’m able to survive,take care of my bills and occasionally grab a pizza on the way home. But at the same time, I always had this desperate hope in my heart that it would only be temporary, and eventually I’d be doing something where…what do they say again? “I’d never have to work another day in my life”. That was my dream. But, that wasn’t specific enough to me. Was I just being lazy, not wanting to work at these places anymore? I mean come, everyone does it right? They drag themselves through everyday and make it work…

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When I say I desperately tried to keep pushing on, I really did you guys. For 8 years! But as the years went on, that sinking in my heart kept getting deeper and deeper. And I felt that God had an entirely different plan for me. I wasn’t meant to just “get by” every day. I don’t believe that is what God wants for ANY of us. My spirit was on the line here.

I found myself in depression, constant exhaustion, withdrawing from everyone and everything. I had no willpower to go on like that anymore. So I finally got on my knees and gave it to God. I had no idea what He wanted me to do, but I knew this wasn’t it anymore.

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This idea popped up that I needed to leave my job, and that scared me. I tried telling myself “that’s probably just me. Just something I wish could happen”, but the tug on my heart never left. In fact it only got more intense. At the time, it made no sense for me to leave my job because I was living with my now fiance, (please, kindly leave your judgments at the door!) and we were both working full time to just make ends meet and be able to go on a date once in a while! If I left my job, we weren’t going to make it!

But every time I prayed, it’s like God was telling me “I have a purpose for you, do you trust me?” and of course I would say “Yes, Lord!” but deep down, I really wasn’t sure about the whole thing. So I asked God to put it on my fiance’s heart if this is what He really wanted. I wanted to know that if I was making a big decision like that, that we’d both be on the same page.

At the time, my fiance had a lot on his plate already and we were going through some pretty big stuff. And I had brought up to him about me leaving my job once before when I was stressed, and he seemed nervous about the whole thing. So I figured, yeah he totally won’t be on board with this, and that will give me my answer!

But…the next day when I asked my fiance what he thought about me leaving and focusing on what God has been putting on my heart, in a completely calm & relaxed tone, he said “I think you should do it.”….I was in complete shock. Of course I came back with “wait, seriously? Like do you think we’d even be able to make it?” and he just said “we’ll make it work.”

Immediately, I thanked God for answering my prayer, but now I had no idea how to go about this! I was about to be without a steady, weekly wage, and that was terrifying to me! I wanted to help bring in the money. I felt like I’d become a burden. I wasn’t used to relying on anyone else for anything. But again, I kept hearing “Trust me”.

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So I did. My fiance and I talked about it some more that day, but it was settled, I was leaving my job and going to work for myself from home. I put in my 2 weeks that next day. To say that the whole thing took a toll on me for a while is an understatement. When you make a huge choice and transition like that, you go through a lot of mental and emotional changes.

I had lots of doubts and insecurities that I brought up to my fiance, and each time he confirmed to me that this was the right choice. There have been times when I’ve been so discouraged, and feeling bad for my fiance having to take over, that I’d just get online to start looking for jobs, and then he would say “Please don’t do that. We’ve got this. I believe in you.”

The fact that he cares so much about my happiness and freedom to create & work for myself, continues to confirm why he is someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. God is showing me His love through this man daily, and helps me to strengthen my trust in Him when I start to fall.

I can’t say that I’ve got everything figured out right now. Or that God has put anything specific onto my heart that He wants me to do since leaving my job a few months ago. But what I do know is that with this freedom to tap into my creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and time to spend with God alone studying His word and listening to Him, I’ve come to realize a few things…

  • I have gifts that I never would have known about had I not had this time away.
  • I have a LOT to learn, and He has a LOT to work on in me.
  • He took me out of my job, not because I couldn’t handle it, but because He wanted something so much MORE for me.
  • Working from home doesn’t make me a burden. I get to cultivate a peaceful, warm, inviting atmosphere for when my fiance gets home, while managing our system to keep our relationship with each other and God thriving, planning out events & projects we’d like to take on, as well as managing my businesses and freelance projects! God has helped me to see those things I was once so insecure about, in a new light.

There are some that do thoroughly thrive in and enjoy their jobs outside of the home! In fact, every time I go to the bookstore and sit by the cafe to read a bit, there is an employee (who seems to practically live there!) who always has a cheerful attitude with every customer, chatting up about life and smiling away. That woman is a blessing to the people around her, and God is using her in such a simple yet beautiful way.

So if that sounds like you, stay where you are! Don’t feel the need to leave, God could be using you in ways you may not even realize! But for me personally, although this has been quite a roller coaster so far, it has also been one of the BIGGEST blessings in my life. It is also giving me the time, freedom and creativity to be a blessing to others, which again in turn blesses me.

If you take anything at all out of this, I hope it’s this…God has a plan for your life, whether you have an idea of what that is or not yet. It might be scary to trust when you have no idea where it will lead you, and it may come along with some scary, discouraging, hard moments. It was never promised that this journey would be easy or without some painful times. But it is always worth it!

So don’t just follow your heart, give it to God, and follow Him! He knows why you were created, so He knows what is best for you. You CAN trust Him. Be blessed 🙂

 

If you enjoyed this post, and/or were inspired in some way, I’d love to connect whether through a comment, message or email! Don’t forget to subscribe to stay updated on new posts!