Welcome to DoSayIDo! A four-part series where I talk all things marriage, from advice to resources and everything in between. No matter if you’re a newlywed, newly engaged, or have been married for decades, I hope you’ll find encouragement each week!
Recently on Instagram Stories, my husband and I did a Q&A and talked about celebrating 18 years of marriage. What I thought would be a fun way to pass the time and reminisce turned into so much more when I got so many thoughtful questions about married life, as well as life before walking down the aisle. So I thought I would kick this series off talking about the best marriage advice we received that really rang true for us.
Laugh. A lot.
Marriage is fun! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We joke and laugh together everyday. Even during the hard times. Even during a pandemic. Truly Jimmy Buffet was spot on when he said if we didn’t laugh we’d all go insane.
I am going to share more in depth about surviving the hard times in week 3 – subscribe here to get the post via email.
Continue to date each other.
Date nights, vacations, a weekend getaway. Pouring into your relationship and really carving time for the two of you is so important. And time away from little ones with uninterrupted conversation does wonders!
Now that’s easier said than done during periods of financial hardship or when you lack proper childcare. For these reasons, we’ve had many “at home” date nights during tough seasons. (Much easier when children go to bed early!).
Believe or not, we didn’t go on vacation together for eleven years. It wasn’t feasible for us to get away for long periods of time, but for our anniversary we would often spend the night in a local hotel. It could have been the Hampton Inn and it would have felt like a luxury to me!
Bottom line: do what you can to carve out a little alone time together.
Let the little things go.
Anger and resentment, if left unchecked, can fester and cause deeper problems than the original issue at hand. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us to not let the sun go down on our anger (and this is one of the most common pieces of marital advice we received), but this can be hard! Whether you take that instruction literally or figuratively, it’s important to address problems at the onset and move on together as quickly as you can. Life is too short to hold grudges.
If something can’t be resolved quickly, perhaps tell the other person: I am still angry but I love you and want you to know that before I go to bed. And set aside time sooner than later to discuss.
For deeper conflict, professional marriage counseling can be incredibly helpful. Don’t be ashamed of going (many people do!) and don’t wait too long to go if you think your marriage would benefit from it.
We had so many older couples tell us that how impactful praying together was in their marriage. It can be awkward to pray together at first but spiritual intimacy can strengthen a marriage so much. We are going to discuss this more in depth next week.
Don’t use the word “divorce” when arguing.
Divorce is a serious and difficult thing and I know many who have been through it so we never want to use the word lightly. Not as a threat or in the heat of an argument just to hurt your spouse. It’s not going to resolve the argument and once it’s out there, it may become an actual option, even if that’s not what you intended.
Don’t bad mouth your spouse.
It’s so important to respect your spouse, even when you aren’t with them. I don’t think my husband would ever talk bad about me or air my (many) faults to others. He respects me and our marriage too much and for that I am grateful!
It’s definitely tempting if your friends are ragging on their husbands during a girls’ night out, but to honor your spouse by not criticizing him in front of others or behind his back says a lot about you and your marriage.
Let me stop here and be clear: if you or your children are victims of abuse then these things don’t apply. Please get help immediately. Tell a trusted friend or call your local crisis center.
A strong marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
This has proven true! Our children feel emotionally safe when they have a secure home and marriage. They don’t always like it, but my husband makes it clear that I am his priority. Whether we need privacy to talk or time for a date night, it is very clear to our children that he values me very much. And that is good for them to see and as one day the look for qualities in their future spouses.
This also means trying not to argue in front of your children. But, if you do, assure them: “Mommy and Daddy love each other very much. We are sinners just like everyone else and sometimes lose our temper. But we apologize and forgive each other like God forgave us.”
Also important for children to see! Even if it grosses them out to see mommy and daddy kiss (like it does ours!).
But even if you don’t have children, it’s good from the beginning to get in the habit of being affectionate. Giving each other a kiss when you see him at the end of a work day. Holding hands. My husband will slow dance with me in the kitchen (something else that makes my children roll their eyes!)
But these little things continue to strengthen your bond and show the world – and your children – that you are a team and love each other very much.
There are more nuggets of wisdom I’d love to share but first: did you receive any marriage advice or wisdom you’ve found helpful? I’m all ears!
We’ll be continuing this series all month with topics including intimacy, dealing with rough patches and the best advice for newlyweds so subscribe here so you don’t miss it!