11 Keys To A Healthy Marriage
Why eleven? It’s an odd number, and it seems so arbitrary, doesn’t it? Well, it is definitely an odd number, but it is not random, and here’s why.
It was eleven years ago on this very date that I married my High School sweetheart. It has been a wonderful and, at times, challenging journey. But one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. We, like all marriages, have had our ups and downs. But, by God’s grace, we stand here eleven years later stronger, wiser, and better.
So as we celebrate our wedding anniversary, my wife and I want to share 11 keys with you on how to have a healthy marriage. We definitley don’t know it all and have much married life to live, Lord willing. But we have learned a few lessons along the way. You will not find these to be new, groundbreaking, or complex, but we pray they will be beneficial to you nonetheless.
11. Have fun!
Hopefully you married (or will marry) someone who is your friend; someone who you love to be around and do things with. Your spouse should not only be your soulmate and teammate, but also your PLAYmate.
Whatever you two consider to be enjoyable, keep doing it! And it wouldn’t be a bad thing for you to venture out and do something that you normally wouldn’t do. Take a trip to some place that you’ve never been. Try a different restaurant. If you are predictable, do something spontaneous. You get the point.
Marriage shouldn’t be a drag. So enjoy life with your spouse.
P.S. – Don’t take yourselves too seriously. It’s okay to also make fun of each other. Just be careful about pushing your spouse’s buttons. Not doing so can turn a playful, breezy moment into a serious tornado of conflict.
10. Celebrate your spouse
I’m sure there are enough things that you could complain about regarding your marriage. But we want to encourage you to focus on the good concerning your spouse and your relationship. This doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with what is wrong or not so good, but that shouldn’t be what consumes your focus and energy. If it is, it won’t take long before you and your spouse become miserable and your marriage turns toxic.
Celebrate how God created your spouse (physical and personality traits).
Celebrate your spouse’s strengths, skills, intelligence, wisdom, etc.
Celebrate your spouse’s achievements.
Celebrate your spouse’s spiritual growth.
Celebrate special days (e.g., birthday, anniversary, etc.).
9. Communicate respectfully and listen attentively
If your physical health is significantly affected by what goes IN your mouth, then your marital health is similarly affected by what goes OUT of your mouth. You can sicken your marriage by spewing out rotten words. Prayerfully guard your words and resolve to only speak words that will in the end build up and not tear down. And if you fail to do so, be sure to apologize.
Listen just as much, if not not more than you talk. We won’t tell you to not formulate in your mind a response or rebuttal to your spouse as he or she is still talking (some people have to do this or else they will forget) – although doing so, we believe, is wise. Just please make sure that you fully hear your spouse out.
8. Surround yourselves with people who can speak into your marriage
It not only takes a village to raise a child, we believe it also takes one to sustain a healthy marriage. Having mature Christian brothers and sisters who love us and whom my wife and I have given permission to ask us hard questions, counsel, and gently yet firmly call us on the carpet as needed has been a tremendous expression of God’s grace in our marriage. God has used them to get us over some hurdles in our relationship, and to keep us on the right track.
7. Date your spouse
To this point, some people don’t feel like it takes all of this to have a healthy marriage. We are not saying that you HAVE to do this or your marriage is doomed to fail or won’t be all that it could be. We actually know a couple who has 20-plus years under their belt and don’t go on date nights and probably never will.
Whether it is a date night, pillow talk, etc., the point we are simply making is that all of us need to constantly be spending quality, uninterrupted time with our spouses.
6. Pray for and with your spouse
Pray when things are good and when they are bad. Pray when you feel like it and when you don’t. Pray before, while, and after having difficult conversations with your spouse. Pray when you have major decisions to make. Pray for contentment. Pray for spiritual growth. Pray for blessings. Pray to steward those blessings well, if God grants them. And when you feel like you have prayed enough, pray some more!
Durable marriages are made up of dependent spouses. Pray as if your marriage depends on God…because it does!
5. Keep the intimacy aflame
Admiration and affection should be constant staples in your marriage. And a consistent diet of loving sexual intimacy never hurt a marriage. As far as it depends on you, don’t sexually starve your spouse. The more the merrier!
4. Accept each other
All of us have idiosyncrasies that we bring into the marriage. This is not an issue of right or wrong, but rather different ways of doing things. The sooner you accept these things about your spouse and learn to work around or in spite of them, the better.
3. Serve one another
What can I do today to serve my spouse? Asking this simple question will revolutionize your marriage. Why? Because many of the root causes of the problems we encounter in marriage have to do with selfishness. Can you imagine the type of marriage you would have if both of you look out for the other’s interest and not merely your own?
2. Forgive sincerely and reconcile quickly
It is possible that your spouse will sin against you at some point during the course of your marriage. And I am not referring to just major transgressions, like adultery. There are a number of ways we can sin against each other: using harsh words, maliciously doing things that we know will irritate our spouses as a way to make them suffer for what they did against us, lying, etc. Forgiveness, therefore, is a must, if your marriage is to survive these moments.
But it’s not enough to forgive; reconciliation is needed as well. You’ve got to come back together, and be willing to trust and put your heart on the line again. With that, let me say this to the offending spouse: If reconciliation is going to happen, you need to have sincerely repented to God and your spouse, and you will need to demonstrate fruits of that repentance. In other words, you need to say and show that you are sorry.
1. Keep Jesus at the center of your lives and marriage
Jesus’ perfect life, redemptive death on the cross for our sins, and his resurrection from the dead is the source from which all healthy marriages flow.
Submitting yourselves to the Lordship of Jesus will position your marriage to last a lifetime. He can keep your marriage, and even put it back together again, if you both will obediently follow Him.
We have seen Him do it, not only for others, but in our marriage as well.