Here are the Top 5 Practical Tips we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) in having a successful marriage. Before we dive in we want you to know success does not mean being free from conflict. We have plenty of conflicts. But we have learned tools to manage the inevitable conflict that happens in every marriage. You are not alone. You are not the only ones who struggle from time to time. You can go from marital strife to marital peace with some simple guidance tools. These tools were life-changing for us. We now share it and pay it forward to you.
- Weekly Check-In
- Take a Pause
- Repair & Recovery
- Submission Competition
- Identification of Spouse’s Top Relational Need
Our challenge to you is to choose just one of these practical tips and share with us what transformation happens in your marriage?
The Weekly Check-In has by far been the best barometer for seeing how our marriage is doing. During the week life can get busy with all the responsibilities we carry, our work, the kids, etc… We can bump up against our spouse with some harsh words or be consumed with our work and not realize our spouse is hurting or lonely. It’s important to come up for air, especially during these busy seasons, and check-in with our spouse. These conversations are an opportunity to deal with past baggage and look for a way to process it differently.
So how are you both doing? Was anything harsh said in the rush of a moment? Is your spouse carrying the burden of all the family responsibilities? If things are not addressed in a timely manner you will experience volcanic arguments or if things are never addressed your spouse might shut down or eventually walk away from the relationship. Not talking about past hurts doesn’t make them go away. Check-In with your spouse or they may Check-Out.
TAKE A PAUSE
You know the saying, “Count to ten.” when you’re angry. The idea is you’ll regain your composure and come back to the argument less emotional and more logical. We have science now to back this up. When we argue we are using the less rational part of our brain. Remember the things you’ve said that you couldn’t believe came out of your mouth?! Taking a pause allows our bodies to calm down but more importantly it allows us to move into the more rational logical part of our brain. P.S. The suggested scientific length of a pause should be at least 20 minutes.
BONUS EXERCISE: **HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR SPOUSE?**
REPAIR & RECOVERY
Masters of relationships repair early and often. And they have lots of strategies for how to repair. Dr. Gottman, Psychologist and Founder of the Relationship Research Institute, describes a repair attempt as “any statement or action – silly or otherwise – that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” The reason I love the concept so much is because of that word “any.”
- Please do not withdraw.
- My reactions were too extreme. Sorry.
- What are your concerns?
- I need your support right now.
- Let’s start all over again.
- My part of this problem is…
SUBMISSION COMPETITION – (Reference: What Happy Couples Know by Andy Stanley)
Most people shut down once they hear the word ‘submission,’ especially women. Submission has been made popular by the bible verse, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands…” -Ephesians 5:22
But what is missed is the verse before this is “Submitting yourselves one to another…” – Ephesians 5:21
Christian marriage is a submission competition. The idea is we are here for each other. You first! No, you first!
The verse Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
This was such a radical idea when the Apostle Paul wrote about this concept because the men treated women back in this culture like they owned them. The amazing news of this equality of men and women was shared by Jesus. Radical shift of dignity for women back then.
So of course, we bristle when we focus just on Ephesians 5:22. Our culture is living out what Jesus had proclaimed. Men and women are equals today.
The point is to put your spouse before yourself. We did this when we were dating. What changed the mindset? Life? Responsibilities? Hurt? For a marriage to work, submission must be mutual.
(Reference: What Happy Couples Know by Andy Stanley)
IDENTIFICATION OF SPOUSE’S TOP RELATIONAL NEED
You’ve probably heard of the 5 Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
But there are more needs than just the 5 Love Languages. We were introduced to another list called the Top 10 Relational Needs:
We found that our love language was better defined by this list. It is important to share how you feel loved if you say Attention is your top relational need. For example, it may not mean the type of attention when you walk into a room but more about having your spouse enter your world. Being curious about your day, how you’re feeling, what struggles did you bump against at work, what special things did the kids do, etc… It may take some vulnerability to share how you would like to be loved but making our spouses guess means you both lose.
We so often hear this verse but make a list of these and see how often you demonstrate them to your spouse during the day, during the week?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. – 1 Cor 13:4-8
NEW TO YOU?
Were any of these suggestions new to you? If so, which one(s?) We’d love to hear if you take on the challenge!