I’ve been married almost two years now. Just like everybody else, we’ve had our ups and downs, highs and lows, and any other cliché sayings about marriage you can think of. This doesn’t make me an expert by any means—we’re still learning every day about how to make this thing work and glorify God in our union.
Everybody has big advice they give you when you get married. “Love each other no matter what,” “Put God first in your marriage,” etc. Those words of heartfelt advice all meant so much me. What I wish I had heard more of before I got married, however, were all the little things that would make marriage so much richer and fuller and just what God intended it to be.
Here’s a few I’ve come up with. This list is by no means exhaustive or even necessarily original, but it’s stuff that will make your marriage better (I promise), so you should read it. It’s more for me than it is for you, though.
In no particular order:
1. Don’t make your spouse compete with electronics.
Did I say that clearly enough? Let me break it down for you: Your spouse should never feel like whatever you’re looking at on your Computer/iPhone/iPad/iWhateverElseYouUseThat’sAGadget is more important than he or she is. When your spouse is talking to you, look into his or her eyes. Show them that nothing in the world trumps what they have to say. When you’re watching a movie or eating dinner, playing a game or watching a sunset or taking a walk or anything else recreational, put the phone in your pocket or purse and leave it there. Not a lot is more insulting to a person than feeling like he or she has to compete with your “other” world—the one you’re staring at during dinner instead of at your husband or wife.
2. If you say you’re going to do something, you had better do it.
Even if it’s something little like taking out the trash, fixing the toilet, returning a rented movie, or making a phone call, don’t forget to do it if it’s something you promised your spouse you would do.
3. If your spouse forgets to do something (like take out the trash, fix the toilet, etc), remember that you forget stuff, too, and try to be understanding.
Getting mad doesn’t really fix anything, now does it?
4. Celebrate holidays you create yourselves, and don’t miss any of them.
Every couple should have certain holidays on which they celebrate being together. Wedding anniversaries are the obvious ones, but what about the anniversary of your first kiss, first date, engagement, etc.? Find reasons to think about how blessed you are to have each other. Ben and I have “monthiversaries” the 15th of every single month (we were married on July 15th two years ago). If you do this, too, never miss a month of giving your spouse something small in celebration of your monthiversary, even if it’s just a candy bar or an extra long backrub. Remind your spouse how thankful you are to be with them more often than Valentine’s Day and your wedding anniversary. Write them in your planner if you need help remembering.
5. Don’t let the whole day go by without reminding your spouse you love them.
Don’t just say it out of habit in the morning when you leave for work, although that’s good, too. Utilize all those social media tools you use all the time for other things that are less important. Send a text, an email, a tweet, a status, or a good old-fashioned phone call just to let your spouse know that you’re thinking of them. Be specific. Be creative. You were when you were dating. Don’t let that go away just because you’re married.
6. If possible, go on vacation together every year.
This can really be as affordable as you want it to be. For tips on how to vacation on a budget, let me know—I’ll hook you up. Get away, just the two of you, and forget about the crazy, busy, hectic life you’re leaving behind for a few days. Leave your phone in your purse unless you’re using it to take pictures or “check-in” at all the cool places you’re going. See #1 especially for vacation times. I realize that all this is a lot easier said than done when you, unlike us, have kids. It’s made a huge difference for us, though. We come back new people. Revitalized. Unified. Totally in love.
7. Have an affair every now and then.
Did I catch your attention? Hear me out. Every now and then, pretend you’re having an affair with your spouse. Run away together. Meet up somewhere and kiss your spouse like you were just itching to finally be together. If you can afford it, spring for a hotel room every now and then—just to make the affair more exciting. I’ll stop now before I make you all uncomfortable.
8. Have “together” hobbies.
Figure out some things that you both like to do and do those things together often. Not much brings you closer than laughing together doing something you both love. Ben and I love playing board games, biking, reading together, and watching our favorite shows together. Figure out what your together-activities are and do them often.
9. Have “just you” hobbies, and let your spouse have his (or hers).
It’s totally healthy to have things that you love to do that your spouse doesn’t. Don’t expect your spouse to be just like you. I have my things (theatre, yard sales, thrift stores, cooking, musicals) and he has his (guns, woodworking, elevator music—okay, he calls it smooth jazz). I don’t try to take him away from his hobbies or belittle him when he gets all excited about a new gun model he wants. I don’t act like I think his hobbies are dumb, and he doesn’t act like mine are dumb. While they’re clearly YOUR hobbies, sometimes it’s really nice if you show extra interest in your spouse’s hobbies—like when I go target shooting with Ben, or when he auditions for a play with me (yes, this actually happened and it meant the world to me).
10. Have Bible time together every day.
I’d say this one is the most important item on today’s list. Talk about the Bible together every single day. Not just a prayer he leads before you go to sleep—although that’s good, too. If your husband is a preacher, talk about his upcoming sermons together, or work your way through a Bible study book together.
I could think of lots more little things to add to this list, but this post is too long as it is, so I’ll throw out the question:
What are some little things you would add that have made a big difference in your marriage?