Ten Ways to Keep Joy in Marriage … one Christian girl’s thoughts for wives and wives to be.
We’ve been married 10 years this month. And I love him so much more than I did on that day when we said, “I do.” But as the years have gone by and we’ve watched some marriages fall apart, or seen others still married, but struggling through … I’ve realized how blessed I am. We’ve been through arguments and anger and frustration. Through deaths and births, disagreements, disappointment, and debt. We still lack many years … but in these beginning years, the Lord has shown a few things along the way … things I wish someone had told me when I first got married. (Though I don’t know if I would have listened because my husband was perfect and I was perfect, so we didn’t really need any help 😉 hA. So the Lord has taught us a few things since our “I do” … and I share them here, if it may help another sister coming along after me. Some are little things, some are much bigger … and obviously, I’m leaving many things out. These are some that have stood out to me over the years. Feel free to add others helpful tips in the comments
1) Seek opportunities to say, “thank you for…”, “I appreciate you because…” and “Ohh, you look good today” Of course be real. Don’t make stuff up. But also don’t assume that he knows it. If you say, “I love you”, tell him one reason why … it makes it mean so much more. Don’t assume he’s strong and okay and already knows. Don’t think it will make him proud or cocky or conceited. He faces a whole pile of junk as soon as he steps out the door and goes to work. All the pressures of this life, all the voices that yell at him and make him feel like junk. So affirm him. Let your words bless him, and let him know that he is truly appreciated.
2) Pay attention to His likes and dislikes, and leave little treats of his favorites as a treat in his lunch or after work or for a late night treat. This doesn’t always have to do with food. If you know he likes it when you wear a certain shirt, or he dislikes it when you leave your hair in the bathtub (guilty), try to make a mental note of these things. They’re little hidden things that he may never even notice … but they are little things that make a difference.
3) When he starts talking, stop what you’re doing. Forget about your agenda or the 1000 things you have to accomplish. Just stop. Keep your mouth closed. And listen. It takes a lot for a guy to open up. If he does, treasure this rare moment and keep quiet, otherwise he might not share the treasures of his heart with you next time. (or be hurt and just shut up quickly)
4) And while you’re at it … Hold your tongue. Not just when he’s talking, but especially in an argument or when you’re upset about something.Give anger a chance to pass. If you hold back that last spiteful remark, you will save hours (or days) of agony for both of you, and chances are, you will forget you were even angry within a few minutes.
5) Pray for him everyday. The bible talks about men being won by their wives, “without a word…”. If you see something off or not right with your husband, even if you see he is down and depressed and discouraged…. It is natural for us to want to fix it and make it right and pester him until he pours out his heart. But sometimes he doesn’t want to. Or can’t. Or even shouldn’t. Besides, it’s not for us to fix our husband, that’s for God to do. So pray, often. If you see a fault, don’t broadcast it to your family or friends, just “take it to the Lord in prayer.” and wait. And pray. “Love is patient … another translation says, “love suffers long” (1 Cor 13:4a)
**It is wonderful if you can pray together daily and read some portion of scripture individually and together. But don’t pester. You can ask gently but if this isn’t something he is into, just pray for opportunities and be faithful to pray and read the bible daily on your own.
**And while we’re on the topic … if you are so blessed to have a husband who wants to retreat for prayer and escape for some healthy cave time in prayer and in the word. … oh let him. If he values this time more than you, if he wants to retreat by himself for a few minutes after coming in from a grueling day at the office … count yourself blessed. And let him. There is nothing in you that can revive or strengthen your husband more than Him having precious communion with the Lord. So if you are blessed to have a husband who wants to retreat and be by himself for a little while … let him. He will be a better husband and father for it. Let him love God more than you. You’ll reap the blessing. Really, I promise.
6) Don’t deprive him. Did I really include this? Yes *blush* I did. Yes, you’re tired. Yes, you have many tasks to do. But if your husband wants to have some intimate time … really? For his sake, can you not deny yourself and take an extra few minutes and bless Him? Yes, I know this isn’t stuff “Christian girls” talk about… but really … we need to all ditch the “I’m tired” excuse. Do you know what Christ has done for us? How he laid down his life for us? Yes, I may sound crazy, but I think it applies to the marriage bed too. Deny yourself from your tiredness. Deny your thoughts from yourself and all that you think you deserve at that moment. And bless your husband with a joyful response to his desire. If you really have no strength, then ask the Lord for strength to bless your husband at that moment. He will answer. J Really. I wouldn’t have included this if I didn’t think it was actually really important. A joyful marriage should include sex. And often
7) Don’t make a small thing into a big thing…it’s not always about right and wrong. Maybe you don’t have an extra $20 to spend (and are in fact very much in debt), but he wants to go take a friend out to dinner. You know what: it’s okay. It’s okay to let it go. Pray the Lord will provide for the extra $20. It’s not worth the argument and strife and hurt in heart. If you do need to bring it up, because you think this is a repeating problem, okay, prayerfully bring it up … but not in that moment. Wait until another time when he knows you care and love him, when it isn’t a reaction to something, but something prayerfully shared with love and concern.
8) Let him lead, with much prayer And look for areas to submit
This somewhat goes with the one above. Yes, we are called to submit. But what if I don’t agree?
Well … on what level don’t you agree? Is it illegal? It is evil? Does it violate your conscience as a Christian? Or is it just something you really don’t want to do? (this is probably where most of us fall. I’m not going to touch on the other areas so much, that’s bigger stuff where you may need someone else involved) But what if he wants to move and I don’t like the area? Or he wants us to buy something that we really don’t have money for? I remember one time when my husband and I had made a decision together concerning some financial things that were a pretty big deal to us. Later on, he came back and asked me if we could go back on what we had decided. For me, it was a pretty big deal, and I was so burdened I was shaking (not wanting to do what he was asking). But he asked me to pray about it, so I did. I took it to the Lord in very burdened prayer. Later, when my husband asked what I thought, I was able to share with burden, having received some verses from the Lord, and not sharing out of my own “how can you even be thinking this?!?!” but in a peaceful way, in Christ. He was so kind and thanked me for praying and seeking the Lord about it all when he had been caught up in all of the cares of the world at work. He heard what I suggested, and completely dropped the idea. Yes, my husband is super sweet and a man of God and I am blessed. No he doesn’t not always receive all of my suggestions… but he does listen. Not everyone would have had that response. But my point is: by God’s grace … I didn’t react and rebel against his suggestion, but took it to the Lord in prayer, and the Lord provided a way out, and changed both of us in the process (me from my fleshly frustration and him from his decision).
9) Be a joyful wife… not a “drippy faucet” I heard a preacher talking about this one time and it just clicked with me. When a woman shows her husband that she loves, esteems, and enjoys him, she strengthens him to be a better husband and daddy. She makes him want to come home after work and chase after her around the house. She makes him want to come be around and help out and do all those things that we nag and nag and nag about. It’s kinda like a circle … enjoy your husband, laugh with your husband (in the marriage bed too), and he wants to be with you. But if we nag, and nag some more, list things he’s doing wrong, or all the things you think he could be doing better … he probably will just feel like running away. So try not to be that “drippy faucet” (Proverbs 19:13, 27:15) Rejoice in your husband, and seek to be the joyful wife that receives him home each day and sends him fun pics of the kiddos (if you have kiddos) during the day. When a woman really gives her husband her heart and doesn’t withhold joy … her husband longs to be with her and please her, and may start to do some of those things without us even asking. …The things we want to nag about … they’ll get done eventually. It’s better to have a happy marriage that a house that looks like it came out of a magazine …and really, if he doesn’t take out the trash, would it hurt to do it ourselves, in joy, glad that we can come alongside and help our husband through his busy day?
10) Don’t withhold forgiveness. In a strange way, sometimes I think we like the “feeling” of being mad. We want Him to KNOW that we are mad and that HE made us mad. Doesn’t he realize what a jerk he was? Doesn’t he know how hurt we are? Maybe, but often times no .. he doesn’t. And you know what. It’s okay. Let go of wanting to be mad. Forgive him before he says he’s sorry. Forget he hurt you, even if he never apologizes (really, he may be ignorant). Whatever you do, don’t ever keep a list of wrongs to bring up and explode with the next time he hurts you or makes the same mistake.
Girls … this isn’t stuff we can do on our own. We can’t forgive. We can’t love. We can’t let go of our own ideas and ways and wants … except but by His strengthening. You can try these things, they are probably things that would help any marriage, even with unbelievers. However, you can’t sustain it. Without Christ, we will come to a point where we can’t forgive. Without Christ, we will remember every wrong. Without Christ, we will get so frustrated at repeating sins and circumstances that don’t disappear overnight … we will give up.
But with Christ, all things really are possible.
In Christ, a broken marriage can be restored
An unbelieving spouse can be won to Christ
A faltering spouse can be brought back from the error of his ways
And a tired, weary, couple … can become passionate and joyful and full of first love again.
Give yourself wholly to the Lord, to live according to what He has asked of you in marriage, and you give yourself to prayer, to travail for your husband, and I can almost guarantee you will see things change.
“…but what about my husband? What if he doesn’t change right away?”
What does the Lord say to John? “What is that to you, you follow me.”
You do what you feel like the Lord is showing you. Start by praying. Begin complimenting and looking for areas to praise. Don’t be fake, but ask the Lord to give you a fresh appreciation. Forgive. If you can’t, go and get on your knees in desperation and cry with the Lord until He answers. You change first. And then, as the scriptures says, “so that the man may be won, without a word, by the behavior of his wife” (1 Pet. 3:1) …
And “the husband is sanctified by the believing wife” (1 Cor. 7:14)
So that as it is written, “let God be found true, and every man a liar” (Rom 3:4) His word says it … it must be true. So let’s be in prayer, until what He says is manifested true on this earth and in us and in our marriage.