Are you a fan of Valentine’s Day? I’m all for celebrating love any time of the year with romantic trips (hello PARIS!), special dinners, and sentimental gifts… but what about love on a regular Tuesday morning? How are we doing in real life rather than on the social media highlight reel? How do we love our spouse well on the daily? Friend, grab something warm to drink on this chilly winter’s day and let’s chat about what happens after the Valentine’s candy is devoured and the sweet, sentimental card is in the recycling bin…
Nobody ever promised us that marriage was going to be easy, but nobody ever told us that loving our honey was a DAILY CHOICE we had to make. We literally have to choose to love each other every single day. That day you wore white and chose to say, “I do”? It was just the beginning as you choose him, and he chooses you over and over again. If we don’t want to grow apart, we have to grow together—and that takes hard work.
The good news: it is so worth it! And it is doable. As Christians, we have a spectacular foundation on which to build our relationship. Rather than having a marriage on the rocks, let’s set our marriage on The Rock. On Jesus.
These 5 tips are common sense, Biblical, moral suggestions, but sometimes we need a nudge. A starting point. A reminder. I’ve been married for 30 years, and I certainly need it:
- AMAZING GRACE:
“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Ruth Graham Such wise words. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness is a big deal, and the lack thereof can be the cause of bitterness and strife in a marriage. It doesn’t say it’s easy-peasy and it doesn’t say it applies to everyone except your spouse. It takes much grace—amazing grace sometimes—but grace is something we receive freely, and it’s a gift to be given.
- ALL EARS:
Listen. It’s part of the communication—and we all know that communication is key in marriage. But listening is often harder than speaking. Remember what we tell our kids? God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we need to listen more than we talk… Yeah. It applies to grown-ups, too. Hear your man when he’s struggling to get through to you, listen for the hints of pain or exhaustion or frustration. You may learn what is life-giving for him and what brings him joy. Be all ears.
- AFTER YOU:
No after you, really. Put your spouse first. Put his needs ahead of your own, even when it sucks and it’s inconvenient. This is so key in marriage, and yet we naturally fail at it so dismally. I do, at least. And yet when I intentionally say to myself, “Self, today we are taking a back seat. Let’s see what I can do for him, and then not moan or whine about it,” —it’s like a mini-miracle. It brings so much joy! Both of you having a servant-heart in a marriage is a no-brainer and it works: “If it is the joy of each to make the other happy, a hundred problems will be solved before they happen.” John Piper
- ATTENTION TO DETAIL:
Often, it’s the little things, the small simple actions that help make a marriage strong. The everyday graces. Like buying his favorite snack or texting him at work with a heart emoji just because. Like biting your tongue when a snippy comment is dying to blurt its way out, or having breakfast together. Like wearing that perfume he loves or asking about his day. These are tiny building blocks and they add up over time. They’re not earth-shattering feats, but when you both find yourselves making that extra bit of effort each day, they become beautiful habits that help your love grow exponentially.
- ARGUE-FREE ZONE:
Speak before you slumber! We’ve always had a ritual that has served us well throughout our marriage. Neither of us is particularly confrontational (I’m the least confrontational person you know, and if you disagree—I literally won’t argue…) and we don’t generally tend to quarrel. But we do have a “rule” that if there’s anything going on from funky feelings to full-on fight, we clear the air before we go to sleep. Always. We can’t rest knowing the other is mad/ sad/ frustrated. There’s nothing worse than issues that are left to stew and fester—that’s where communication breaks down and walls go up. Even if we can’t come to a complete resolution there and then, we need to know we are good, all is well, that we love each other.
Basically, we can say that being more Christlike, both of you putting God first individually will result in a stronger marriage. There’s only one Saviour. But you can serve him together.
“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be…” Ruth Graham
Remember that love:
“Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 (MSG)
Happy Valentine’s Day… and may you choose to love every single day!
P.S. Whether you’ve been married for 30 days or 30 years, you can read more in my marriage book: Pearls for the Bride:
Linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out: