"Whether you've been married for 38 years, 8 years or are a newlywed, you've probably picked up a few of the keys to a happy marriage, one which is nurturing and continues to grow. Maybe your marriage has struggled, but you've found a road back to each other and have insights for those in similar situations. What would you say are the three most key elements in your marriage that keep the romance alive and the heart aflutter? "
My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. In fact, if I didn't have so much to show for it, I wouldn't believe it. But we have been extremely blessed, and I have listed here a few (3 of my own, 3 of my husband's) reasons why.
- We never go to bed angry. I remember receiving this bit of advice at my bridal shower, so it is probably the first thing I learned about keeping my marriage alive. One of the little "games" we played was that each guest had to give me their best pearl of marital wisdom before I could open their gift. This suggestion has really stuck with me, and now I truly cannot fall asleep if I am feeling bitter about something. It must be resolved or it will either eat away at me all night long, or get buried and just rare its ugly head again at some point in the near future.
- When I asked my husband what he thought the best keys to keeping your marriage alive were (and I know that I am jumping around here), he said regular date nights, setting aside a daily time to talk, and keeping your sense of humor (to which he smartly added "and lots of wrestling"... women's wrestling was on the television at the time... turd).
It's true, dating does wonders for our relationship. It makes me feel young and in love again when I am holding my husband's hand as we walk into a restaurant, or laying my head on his shoulder during a movie, or displaying my affection towards him in public. Not to mention, it gives us a break from the children, who never fail to notice when we've slipped out of the room to steal a private moment.
My husband is the one who's encouraged our "nightly talk". Me? I'd like to just talk whenever it strikes my fancy or whenever I have the urge. Unfortunately this usually occurs in several short spurts throughout the day (he works) and just as my head hits the pillow at night. It is far easier for him if we have a specific time set aside to talk than it is for me to lie down next to him at 11 o'clock at night and begin venting just as he's drifting off. There is also a greater chance of him reciprocating in the conversation if he is awake for it, and I prefer that. :)
As for the sense of humor, I think it is our greatest asset. There's nothing better than getting to the climax of an argument only to meet each in the eye and begin laughing hysterically. Why is not usually known, but it is certainly a good save for us. Laughter is good medicine. It is rejuvenating and a natural way of relieving stress.
- Another important key is romance. I really enjoy making a fancy dessert for after the kids are in bed, opening a bottle of sparkling cider, lighting some candles, and listening to Sade or Chris Botti. My husband enjoys curling up under the covers whenever there is a late night rainstorm. Occasionally, I will revert back to my college days ritual of making him a mix tape of sappy love songs, or write him a love letter. Terms of endearment. Letting our children see us hug and kiss. All these things reignite the passion in our marriage. After 10 years of weathering, they are no longer the primary focus of our marriage, for sure, but they definitely add to it.
- The key I have found to be most beneficial to our marriage is prayer and scripture study as a couple. Our marriage seems the most stable when we are regularly doing these two things (I would even dare say that they could replace all the aforementioned things and achieve just as good results, because it is a very effective preventative measure). I believe it is one of our most important obligations to each other, and sadly the most challenging one to keep. Down time becomes such a precious commodity when you have children. Normally, we just want to collapse in the evening, and think/do nothing, but we really need to make the time to feed ourselves spiritually as a couple.
Having an ever growing, ever strengthening marriage can be really tough. It is easy to get caught up in other things, like your children, your job, yourself. But you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you do not put your marriage first. That union supercedes everything else if it is to last.
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