While I wouldn’t say that Josh and I are marriage experts by any stretch of the imagination, we have picked up a few things over these past fifteen years that have made our marriage fun, successful, interesting, exciting, and passionate!
Our His and Hers list is not in any kind of order – some of these answers are fun and others a bit more serious, but these are some of the things we have applied (or at least attempted to apply) to our marriage over the last decade and a half.
- Communication is worth the work, the effort, and the frustration. Even when you feel like giving up, don’t. “Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26
- Make out in the kitchen (and on the back porch, and in the hallway, and…), I mean like long-winded kisses. Kissing in front of the kids? Even better. While they may be grossed out (I mean, don’t be inappropriate, but…), it makes them feel secure.
- Laugh often and laugh hard! Even if it’s at 11:30 pm and you wake the kids up! It’s just the two of you – if you can’t be silly with your soulmate and best friend, when can you?
- Be your husband’s biggest cheerleader. Build him up. Thank him for working so hard to provide for your family. Tell him something specific you appreciate about him – like faithfully waking up at 5 am every morning with a good attitude, in our case!
- Encourage him to be active, and help make the space for that to happen. He’ll feel better if he makes some time for his physical well-being, and it benefits the whole family in the long run.
- Read the Bible and pray together. When you’re united in Christ, you’ll be better united on the home front.
- Spoil him with…books, in my case! It’s his love language!
- Tell him that you think he’s hot. A lot. Like People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive hot!
I always hesitate to give marriage advice, for a lot of reasons. One, I make so many mistakes. I fail to be patient, to listen, to comfort. I don’t always follow my own advice or the advice of wise men and women I know who have decades more marriage experience under their belts than I do. But…we work hard at it. I think we get it right more than we get it wrong (and she gets it right more than I do). We have a lot of fun and we love each other more now than we did fifteen years ago! And she’s gorgeous…so there’s that. While there are a ton of things I need to work on, there are quite a few things that I know are vital to our continued martial bliss! Here are a few of those, in no particular order…
- Listen, even when the perspective doesn’t make sense to you. Although it may not be true of every couple, opposites often do attract, and our decision making process is far more comprehensive when it includes her perspective and mine.
- Don’t ever let her wonder if you’re thinking about her. That might mean leaving notes, calling or texting unexpectedly (without an agenda!), or, if you’re together, just walking up and randomly kissing her and putting your arms around her. She needs to know she’s on your mind, no matter where you are.
- Make sure she has time to take care of herself. This isn’t about her making herself more attractive to you, though that certainly may be a side benefit. It’s about the fact that working or not, mom or not, she may need a little help carving out the time. It’s different for everyone, I’m sure, but for Chels, that’s time to work out, do yoga, get her hair done, go shopping, grab a coffee, read or study, and maybe stop by the nail salon (some of those things happen more than others…).
- Recognize your communication style, and integrate with hers. In my case, we realized early on that I was the dominant, type-A, work-it-out-till-it’s-worked-out communicator in our relationship, where Chels would rather let it go until she can’t deal with it anymore…then blow up. Neither one of those work without adjustments. I had to learn to chill out, and she had to learn to speak up.
- If she’s got a soft spot for something, show her you’re paying attention by catering to it. When we first starting dating, she was into butterflies. She’s always loved cats. Now it’s whales. Whatever it is, I try to make the most of it – whether that’s coffee mugs, little drawings, an actual kitten, or a whale-watching cruise, make it happen, and keep an eye out. Lucky for me, she’s never been into, like…tarantulas or something.
- Don’t be afraid to be “mushy”. How it ever became manly to not declare affection publicly is beyond me. I grew up with a dad who wanted nothing more than to tell the world how crazy-in-love he was with my mom, and he’s plenty manly. He set a high bar, but I can say that I certainly have no qualms about letting anyone who will listen know how wild I am about my beautiful bride!
- Never denigrate her in front of anyone. Whether she’s present or not. If you have a concern or a critique, address it in private. To anyone outside your marriage, you’re her defender and her biggest fan. Hopefully she’ll return the favor, but abiding by this rule is not conditional on that…