He said he found 25 half-used bags of chips and crackers. Then he said, “We really need to create some systems for organization that we can all keep up with.”
And I said, “Okay, I have a running group in ten minutes, so I’ll let you know what those systems are when I get back.”
The old me, would have said all kinds of crazy stuff to myself.
“He thinks I stink at homemaking.”
“I’m a horrible mom. I can’t even keep track of my crackers!”
“I can’t do anything right!”
The new me was awake enough to take over. Thank you God!
“Maybe things feel out of control, so, he wants to tackle some of our kitchen cabinets and see life as less chaotic.”
“He’s not judging me. He’s serving our family. How blessed I am.”
“I can support Matt in this. It does feel nice to have ‘systems’ in place – even though they are hard to keep track of with five kids in the house.”
I chose to not let this ruin my day AND I chose to humbly accept that this is where my husband was, and it was okay.
Marriage is sand paper. It rubs my rough edges smooth.
Marriage is character building. It creates an awareness in me of my junk – a daily, moment by moment revealing.
Marriage is madness and joy and passion and pain all wrapped in one.
Does it have to be so painful – so disconnected – so full of loss?
Or might our acceptance of the growth God intends to bring us – via our spouse, and our intertwined lives – bring us each a renewed perspective?
Today, I celebrate 21 years of marriage to my husband, Matt. We have not always had the relationship we have today. But ever since we did a year of counseling, at our ten year mark, we have improved, every year, on making our marriage better. Today, I can say I have a #10 relationship with my husband. And I’m going for a #12 next anniversary! And the more time I spend counseling and coaching women, the more I know this to be a rare gem. I don’t have all the answers, but I want to share what I know has supported us in creating a #10 marriage.
How did we get here?
Here are 21 Powerful Tools to Strengthen Your Marriage.
They’re only powerful when you choose to depend on Someone far bigger than you – the Maker of Marriage.
1. Get over yourself. Over and over and over again.
2. Apologize first and fast. Make it a contest.
3. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt – the same thing you want when things are going down.
4. Communicate – even when you don’t want to. But not at 11pm, right before bed.
5. Have sex. Often. Not once every 3 months. That’s a set up for both of you to fail.
6. Talk about your sex life. To EACH other. Not to everyone else. Talk during sex. You’re allowed. You have a license and everything.
7. Pray together. Maybe that should have come before sex? Pray for each other – especially when you’re seeing things negatively. (It’s impossible to be talking to God and be IN your resentments at the same time.)
8. Praise one another. Out loud. In front of everyone. Especially in front of your kids and your in-laws.
9. Have fun. Play. If he likes tennis, play tennis. If she likes photography, look at her pictures.
10. Go on dates. Be intentional about PREscheduling these. Dates will NOT just happen into your busy life.
11. Be accountable. To each other. And to other people – keep growing in Christ, and intentionally work on your marriage.
12. Admit your selfishness. Say, “I’m frustrated, because I’m not getting what I want here.” This is the truth, so say it, and move past it faster.
13. Apologize AGAIN. This one you will do more than you want to and more than you want to admit. Do it anyways.
14. When you apologize, don’t just say, “I’m sorry”. Seek forgiveness and restoration by admitting your wrong, and asking, “Will you forgive me?”
15. Be affectionate. In front of your kids. Even if it seems to make them uncomfortable. It’s a healthy gift of security that you can give them.
15. Laugh together. Laugh at yourself. Keep it light. Remember how you used to laugh? Go there!
16. Believe in each others’ dreams. My husband told me I was a ‘rockstar’ the other day.
17. Provide a refuge for one another in your home. Ask each other often – “How can I best support you right now?”
18. Live with the mindset that this is forever. Because it is. Not just the marriage part, but the legacy part. Build your forever legacy – today.
19. Take vacation. As a family. Do the trip you’ve always wanted to do. And go on trips JUST the two of you. Even if it’s a long weekend. Connect. Be together, just you. Tell your kids – “We love you. And we love each other even more!”
20. Have a mentor couple in your life. Let them know how things REALLY are and let them encourage you to bigger and better.
21. Be honest. With each other. With a counselor. Get help before it’s really bad. If we hadn’t, I’m fairly certain I would not be writing this post. Every marriage can get better. So, humble yourself. And get support. And do it – Yesterday!
August 3, 1991
Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Patrick
What is your greatest joy in marriage?
What is your biggest struggle?
I would love to know how to support and pray for you.
Happy Anniversary honey! Thank you for working at our marriage and for growing with me! I am grateful beyond understanding for the gift we share in our marriage. Alll Glory to God who made us. Without Him, it would be hopeless.