Today guest poster Stephanie Shott shares with us ingredients to keep your marriage strong when feelings run away from you. Here’s Stephanie:
My husband is my best friend. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Our journey hasn’t always been easy, but somewhere between the good, the bad, and the ugly, we discovered how to love each other through it all…even when liking each other was hard.
Marriages seldom come neatly wrapped in conflict free packages, and my marriage to my husband was no exception. Polar opposites with different passions and pursuits, our only real common denominator has been Jesus. And to be honest with you, He’s been the glue that has kept this marriage together when our hearts were weary with each other.
Marriage is like a great pound cake. There are certain ingredients that are absolutely necessary for it to be successful.
Today, I’d like to share five key ingredients I’ve learned over the past 27 years that has helped me love my man even when I was having a hard time liking him.
1. Laugh Together–We Like Whom We Laugh With
Laugh at each other; laugh at yourself; laugh at your circumstances…but whatever you do…laugh together – a lot. There’s a wonderful bonding process that takes place when you laugh together.
I know it’s hard to laugh when you’re marriage is strained, but go out of your way to look for the absurd, crack yourself up, prank each other, watch comedies together…do whatever you have to, but laugh together. Think about it, when is the last time you saw a couple laughing their way to divorce court?
2. Respect One Another–It’s the Key to “Like”
Aretha Franklin is famous for the familiar song, R-E-S-P-E-C-T…All we’re asking…is for a little respect. Just a little bit. Just a little bit. They may be cute lyrics in a song, but respect is a basic human need…especially in marriage…especially for a man. Our husbands not only want our respect, they really need it. I honestly believe the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband found himself sitting at the gate because his wife believed in him. She supported him, she encouraged him, she respected him.
A wife’s respect can bolster a man’s courage and confidence and give him strength to fulfill his potential. A husband’s respect for his wife fosters security and assures her that he values her thoughts, her efforts and her opinions.
But respect doesn’t always come easily ~ especially when your husband doesn’t deserve it. But like love, respect is sometimes a choice you make and not an emotion you feel-it’s an action of your will.
If your husband has deep issues, contrasting values, or poor judgement, respecting him may be the last thing you want to do. But respect is one of those things we sometimes offer because we want to be obedient to God regardless of whether our hubbies deserve it or not.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–And Most of It’s Small
In the first ten years of our marriage, we argued about some of the most trivial things. Being polar opposites, our differences often sparked the fire, but our immaturity seemed to keep it ablaze.
I was the queen of making mountains out of mole hills, and he was the king of making matters worse with his words.
Does it really matter if he folded the towels wrong, didn’t take the garbage out the minute I asked, or left the toilet seat up? It’s funny how we find ourselves deep in battle and all of a sudden realize we don’t have a clue what we’re arguing about.
Choose your battles wisely, don’t sweat the small stuff, and you’ll find yourself laughing together and fighting for each other instead of with each other.
4. Don’t “Like” Your Husband? Manage Your Mind
Choose your thoughts wisely. As a Christian, you have the power to take your thoughts captive. It’s easy to focus on your feelings and your circumstances when you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage. Unfortunately, the more you fix your mind on what you’re going through and how you feel, the more difficult it is to move forward in your marriage.
It’s tough to move forward in your relationship when you’re constantly looking in the rearview mirror of your marriage.
Managing your mind doesn’t mean you gloss over difficult situations or that you don’t deal with conflicts, it just means you choose the way you think about them. It means when you’re angry, you don’t mull that thing over and over again in your mind. It means when you don’t really like your man, you choose to love him anyway. You don’t say to yourself, “I don’t like my husband.” You say, “I choose to love this man.”
5. Pray for Your Man and Your Marriage
You know your husband like no one else does and you can pray for him like no one else will. If you see an area of need in his life, pray for him. If he is struggling with specific issues, pray for him.
It took me years to realize that one of my greatest callings as a wife was to not only pray, but to desire that my husband would be all God created him to be and to long for him to fulfill his God-given destiny. That should be a continual cry of my heart. It’s part of loving him well.
Marriage isn’t easy, but you can choose to love your man even when you find it hard to like him. It’s a choice that is intentional. Powerful. And it works.
These are just a few steps on our way to maintaining or regaining that loving feeling and one day, when you hurdle over the obstacles in your marriage, you’ll find that you love him more today than the day you said I do.
How do you keep your marriage strong? Share your story and encourage others.
Stephanie Shott is the founder of The M.O.M. Initiative, a ministry devoted to making mentoring intentionally missional. She is an author and a popular speaker, who helps women live full, fearless and faithful lives. To invite Stephanie to speak at your next event, visit her website at www.stephanieshott.com. To find out more about The M.O.M. Initiative or to begin a M.O.M. Mentor Group in your area, visit www.themominitiative.com.