How to Make A Marriage Stronger
Recently I went to Spark Marriage conference at my church. I also attended the conference last year as well (see I Went To A Marriage Conference and I’m Single). Although I’m not married (yet) I took away tips and strategies to make my marriage stronger (in the future that is). Here’s what I learned:
Cultivate Passion, Intimacy and Commitment
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott spoke on passion, intimacy, and commitment. They said that when you’re first married your level of satisfaction and happiness is super high. You’re in the honeymoon phase and perhaps even believe marriage isn’t as difficult as you thought. Yet, as life goes on, you start having children, careers, etc. your satisfaction levels are guaranteed to decline over time. At some point you find yourself at an all time low. This is the point where many couples give up.
When you’re in a valley it’s easy to think that you’ve made a mistake. And the way that you correct a mistake is that you make a new decision that undos the original decision. So if you’re married and you’re at this all time low the inclination is to believe that you made a mistake in marrying this person. As a result, you un-marry or divorce. The same thing can be said in a career or starting a business. You reach a low and you revert. Mission aborted.
Drs. Les and Leslie said that on the other said of that valley marriage satisfaction begins to climb for couples who preserve and stay together. Eventually the levels climb higher than they were in the honeymoon phase. Your marriage becomes stronger often times as a result of the valley not in spite of it. Marriage is a journey. In most journeys there is excitement and anticipation in the beginning, frustration, boredom, and at times even regret in the middle, and satisfaction and joy at the end.
Every marriage goes through a valley. It’s so freeing when you understand this. No need to question yourself or your marriage. This is the time to double down on your commitment to each other knowing that on the other side is a stronger, more beautiful marriage. The way that a couple can preserve through the valleys and reach the pinnacle of marriage satisfaction and happiness is to cultivate passion, intimacy, and commitment. That is how you make your marriage stronger and better in the long run.
Love, Honor, and Respect Your Spouse
This was a table talk Q&A session with senior pastors of Joel and Victoria Osteen. Their advice for a strong marriage:
- You can’t love your partner until you know your partner
- Understand and study him (or her)
- Accept them and their personality
- Recognize what gives them strength and what they enjoy. Honor that thing.
- Have hobbies that keep you together. Don’t let work friendships or other relationships cause you and your spouse to grow apart.
- Call out the seeds of greatness in others (especially your spouse). A blessing is not a blessing until it is spoken.
- Iron sharpens iron. Sharpen your spouse. Don’t ask them to do or be anything that you are not willing to do or be.
- Pray for God to change you not your spouse.
- Treat your spouse with honor and respect.
Manage Your Finances
Money is one of the top reasons for divorce in the US. It is only wise then that couples learn good money habits to mitigate any disagreements or stresses around money. In a strong marriage, money is tackled head on not avoided until it’s too late. Chris Brown, led this session. His tips are:
- Live on a written budget. Put a budget on paper, on purpose before the month begins. If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.
- Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Interest received is a reward. Interest paid is a penalty.
- Cultivate and maintain quality relationships. Bad company corrupts good habits.
- Save and Invest. Every dollar has an obligation to the past so it has no opportunity for the future when you have debt.
- Be incredibly generous.
Declare Life Over Your Marriage
People are more adept at complaining than praising. As they say bad news travels fast. Yet, constantly complaining or speaking “death” over your marriage or life in general can too often become a self fulfilling prophesy. Learn to declare and speak life over your marriage, particularly when you’re experiencing a rough patch. Declaring life over your marriage strengthens it while speaking ill of your marriage and spouse weakens it. Lakewood marriage pastors and authors of Hope for Your Marriage: Experience God’s Greatest Desires for You and Your Spouse, Clayton and Ashlee Hurst hosted this session:
- Don’t assume or think your marriage will prosper. Declare it.
- Remove pride from your hearts. Pride comes before destruction.
- Ask yourself, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have the marriage you’ve always hoped and dreamed of?”
- Be vulnerable. It is powerful.
- Know that healing and hope is bigger than you and your spouse. It requires God’s involvement
Understand Your Spouse’s Apology Language
I can definitely relate to how we tend to have different apology languages. And it’s often been a demise in my relationships (romantic and otherwise). If someone has wronged me or offended me in some manner and they don’t care to apologize I completely shut down. There’s no saving that relationship. On top of that, most people don’t want to apologize. I heard it said that, “I’m sorry” is one of the most difficult things for people to say. Learning to apologize in a way that your partner can receive it is a marriage saver. It is bound to help you have a stronger marriage. This session was brought to us by the author of The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman.
- Everyone doesn’t apologize the same nor does everyone receive an apology the same.
- Couples can “miss” each other during conflict because one partner thought they apologized and the other didn’t.
- The five languages of apology:
- Express regret: “I’m sorry that…” always give a reason
- Accept responsibility: “I was wrong…”
- Make restitution: “What can I do to make this right?”
- Genuinely repent: Don’t keep repeating the offense
- Request forgiveness: “Will you forgive me?”
- To find out your main apology language ask yourself:
- When I apologize what do I typically say or do?
- What hurts me most about this situation?
- What can they say or do that would make it easier for me to forgive?
Update On My Life
As mentioned earlier I went to this same conference last year. Last year when I went I was 1000% single. There was NO man in sight. I specifically wrote in that blog post, “I went to the conference alone with nothing but a prayer and a mustard seed of faith.” Interestingly, a few months after the conference I met an awesome man. This year I went to the conference engaged.
Resources For A Strong Marriage
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