Caring for Your Marriage
February 17, 2020 | by katie jones backer
My husband and I have been dating for nearly ten years and married for almost eight. In that time, we have learned a few things that have helped us to maintain a happy, healthy marriage while continually growing closer together despite our familiarity… or perhaps, because of it. I am by no means a marriage expert, but I am open to sharing what we have found to work for us.
With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on how we have cared for our marriage. I hope they are a resource and encouragement for your own relationship.
When is the last time you two checked in? Not like, “Hey, can you pick up the kiddo this Friday because I have a dentist appointment,” … I mean really checked in with one another. Like visiting over coffee on a Sunday morning perhaps, asking one another how you each feel, and if there is anything you need/desire from your partner.
Communication is extremely vital in caring for your marriage. If you feel unable to share with one another, or continue to harbor secrets and resentment, that will set the groundwork for disarray. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, you have to be able to talk and LISTEN to one another.
2. Trust and Respect
Something I’m continually saddened by is how often people bash their partners behind one another’s backs.
Respect goes both ways, and my husband and I firmly believe that it should carry over from how we act and treat one another face-to-face to when we are apart and speaking of one another to friends, family, and our daughter. By having this as a tenant in our relationship, it has deepened our trust and respect for one another. And this is all connected to communication. If you want to have a more deeply communicative relationship, trust and respect need to be at the forefront.
3. Quality Time & Intimacy
As time goes on, you eventually fall into a rhythm as a couple, and the “romance” or “butterflies” can sometimes drift away. Would you say that you are actively dating your partner? All too often we can go from a healthy feeling of familiarity, to beginning to take our relationships (not limited to spouses) for granted. It’s good to recognize that and make intentional time for our loved ones.
Being together, whether going for a walk, holding hands on the couch while watching a movie, cooking together, or going out for a nice meal or to a concert, is important to me. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing, I just like to be together. Adding a child to the mix, we’ve had to get more intentional with maintaining a weekly dates. A lot of times that just looks like an early Sunday morning coffee or late-night movie, but we do try to get a babysitter on occasion and enjoy a dinner date. It’s important to have that time together, and to break up the routine to chat. That’s when we get to really talk, whether about work, our child, TV, movies, dreams, travel, books, memories, you name it! That time allows us to feel connected.
4. Enrichment and Fellowship
How often would you say you two work on your marriage or discuss it? Have you gone to counseling? Read any good books? Attended a seminar? Do you hang out with other couples? Healthy marriages take active participation… and sometimes an outside perspective.
For us that looks like trying to read a marriage book together or listen to marriage podcasts, read occasional articles, and as of 2019, joining a marriage dinner group. These have all provided great opportunities for us to share what’s on our minds or heavy on our hearts.
If communication is an area of struggle for one or both partners these are a great way to provide talking points.
Over the years, I would say the best resource that we’ve found (and highly recommend!) is the book, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. You may think you understand how to give and receive love with your partner, but after reading this book, you’ll be able to have a beneficial conversation *hopefully* about what you actually want and need from one another. (No surprise, I’m a “quality time” girl, while my husband is an “acts of service” guy. Together, we can now express appreciation and try to love one another the way we each want to receive it).
In this showy month of love with Valentine’s Day, you can enjoy getting caught up in the festivities, but I’d also like to encourage you to use it as an opportunity to remind yourselves why you fell in love in the first place. Why is this person - above all - your person?
And then… cherish them.
And love them.
Here’s to a healthy marriage in 2020! Let us know if this post resonated with you, and if you have any “Marriage Tips” as well! We love hearing from our readers.