The vows have been said, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the thank you notes have been sent. The wedding is officially over...now what? Now you're married, which is a huge commitment. Maybe it's only been 10 days, 10 weeks,10 months or 10 years... where you are in your marriage, you may have vowed to not become like every other old boring married couple out there. But it takes more than lip service and good intentions to build a love that lasts.
Here are 10 tips on how to get your love moving and lasting in the right direction:
1. Set aside time to connect every day.
The other weekend, Jarrett and I were out and I found myself noticing a very nice looking couple across the room. Her hair was lovely and her dress and make up looked as if she took great care in getting herself ready. The guy she was with was also dressed nicely in a button up collared shirt and trendy shades. Cute couple. They sat next to each other, over several plates of appetizers and, obviously, their meal. And, though they were close, they weren't connecting at all. This trendy and attractive couple were each glued to their phones: sitting side by side, but focused on other people and other things.
In a 24 hour day, you each have about 8 or more hours of being apart from each other: careers, commutes, conferences, ect... Carving out time every day for undevoted attention might feel impossible, but out of 24 hours, surely, it's worth the commitment of the health of your relationship to set aside 20 minutes for each other. And no, sex doesn't count!
If you can, try to ditch the apps during dinner time, so you can focus on each other more. It'll be a great time to connect about the day, destress, and enjoy one another. Maybe select one night a week where the TV is off- no couch surfing allowed. You can use this time to do an activity together or complete a home project. If you get in the habit of making time for each other right out of the gate, it'll be a lot easier to keep that connection as time goes on and if your family expands to include children.
2. Learn to attack problems, not each other.
The worst thing that could ever occur in a marriage- or any relationship for that matter- is for one or both people to refuse to find a solution. Pride never wins and ultimately, a refusal in finding harmony will result in distrust, disfunction and disinterest.
When things go wrong- and they will, some times- it leaves you with only 2 options: forgive or fight. Marriage isn't about being right; it's about being a team. Instead of wasting energy attacking one another in an argument, learn to focus your attention on the problem and be mature enough to explore solutions. In some cases, this requires a time out of sorts- maybe acknowledging each other's point of view, respectfully, and going into another room to cool down, pray or just rest. I prefer taking a shower when I'm pissed or feel misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to collect yourself, just as long as you are willing to revisit the problem to formulate a solution.
The reality is that if you're mature enough to be married, you have to operate in maturity to maintain harmony, peace and love. Being angry and trying to punish each other to prove your point is unproductive and many marriages have collapsed because of an unwillingness to set pride aside. Don't let that be your story.
3. Know that it's okay to have separate interests.
Clinginess is never cute! It just isn't. He needs to be out of the house, sometimes. You need some alone time, some times. You each have friends, family, hobbies and new and old interests that shouldn't be ignored in your efforts to cultivating a healthy marriage. To do so is unhealthy.
Spending time away from each other provides you opportunities to recharge, invest in your self and give each other a break, which will ultimately enhance your relationship- fueling experiences that will allow for conversation, self discovery and more meaningful intimacy when you reconnect with one another. Remember, though the 2 must become 1, you are still individuals with individual interests, talents and callings. While it's important to share interests with your spouse, it shouldn't be an alarming concern to get away from each other from time to time. Give him a reason to miss you! Togetherness is always good for a marriage, but each person needs to take time for themselves as well.
4. Keep Communicating.
It's one of the most stated suggestions: Communication. And it's true. You can't grow if you don't know where you are and he is not a mind reader- neither are you. Some things are difficult to share: either because they are intimidating, uncomfortable or simply because we aren't quite sure how we feel. But effective communication isn't marked by jokes and flirting... sometimes, we have to have some serious conversations and that's ok.
When you are entirely comfortable having meaningful conversations, you'll find it a lot easier to broach more difficult topics. Nothing should be off topic in a marriage. Each of you have committed yourselves and your lives to each other. If it matters to you, it should matter to him and vice versa. Build trust and strengthen your bond through communication.
5. Get your finances in order.
We already know that financial problems is the number one cause of divorce in our country. Why? Because being broke is uncomfortable and ushers in a lack of stability. But there are plenty of ways to improve your financial situation or maintain a thriving household where income is not a pressure point.
Live in your means. I know we all have a credit card, or 2, but that doesn't mean you have to swipe every week or every month. Budget your life. Sit down and discuss your finances and your bills with one another. this is not a personal issue- it's a joint concern and each member of the marriage should be aware of the other's financial standing. If need be, don't go on that vacation and use the money to pay off some debt. Give your tithes, faithfully, as God promises to bless those who trust Him with their wealth (Malachi 3:10). Be responsible with your spending... is that dress really worth the money and the pain of disapproval fr