Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Marriage is not easy. Sometimes new ideas can enhance our life. Here are a few tips on how to create a peaceful marriage. Feel free to add to this list because every marriage is unique!
1. Date Your Mate
Continue date nights, especially after you are married.
No matter how busy you become with good things, what could be better than getting all dressed up for a “date” with your mate? It could be as simple as a trip to the grocery store without the kids, a picnic by the lake where you talk until the sun sets, or as elaborate as a fancy dinner and movie afterward.
You may have to “steal” a few minutes after the children are in bed or ask Grandma and Grandpa to baby sit for a few hours. Just don’t neglect keeping a spark in your relationship. It takes work but the rewards are great.
2. Identify Your Personalities
Understand your spouse’s personality. Knowing each other well can help create a more peaceful and respectful marriage. For example, if you find out that your spouse is a "mobilizer" personality who loves to get jobs accomplished quickly and without any fun or fanfare, it would be a mistake to try to make every chore into a game everyone could participate in.
A "socializer" personality, however, would love this approach. Likewise, if your spouse is an "organizer" personality who needs everything to be in its place, you shouldn’t try to impose your "stabilizer’s" personality trait of procrastination on him or her.
Understanding the personality of your spouse allows you to interact with him or her in the most effective way whether in conversation, playing a game, doing housework, or working in the yard.
3. Creative “I Love You’s”
Understanding the personality of your spouse helps you know the preferred love language. Discovering the best way to convey your love to your spouse gives you one more opportunity to say “I love you” in new and exciting ways.
According to Gary Chapman in his book the Five Love Languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch) are the best ways to communicate love and support to your mate. But each personality has their preferred love language.
Knowing how your spouse best receives communication makes misunderstandings rare.
4. Support Your Mate
Once you choose a mate, allow your mate to continue growing into the man or woman God created him to be. The biggest thing you can do is realize God has made your spouse unique. Providing support and doing everything you can to help your mate realize his or her dreams and grow into the man or woman God intended is the best gift you can give your mate. I don’t know about you, but I am always growing and learning from my mistakes. Encouraging each other goes a long way.
You and your mate may like to do different things. And there is nothing wrong with encouraging him or her to go fishing every once in a while or for her to go to lunch and shopping with her friends. Just don’t let those things take over all the opportunities you may have for date time!
5. Don’t Stay Angry
The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
When you and your spouse have a disagreement, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just ignore each other until bedtime, then go to sleep, hoping the incident will be forgotten in the morning. However, you never know what might happen during the night, and going to bed angry is not a good idea.
Clear the air by discussing what you disagree on so you can start with a clean slate in the morning. Let “I love you” be the last words you hear each night before you go to sleep.
6. Forgive and Forget
Ephesians 4:31-32; “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Kindness is something we think we owe to other people but sometimes we forget that we should extend kindness to those in our households as well.
Going out of your way to do something small to encourage your husband or wife, bring a smile to their face, make their day special will fill both your hearts with affection and praise to God for bringing the two of you together. Kindness is the salve that opens both of you up to being tenderhearted.
7. Be United
If you have children, remember to present a united front. Recent statistics tell us 57% of married households are childless. But for the remaining 43%, both parents must stand together, united in making the family rules and upholding them.
However, never forget you had a spouse before your children, and that relationship needs to continue to grow.
Being united also extends to the matters that you stand for as a couple. Though you may differ in gifts and opinions, extraordinary marriages are the ones that God uses as a united front for his purposes and glory.
8. Pray for Your Spouse
Pray for your spouse. You are part of your spouse becoming who God intended him to be. Pray for each other that you will put God first in your life and depend on Him to show you the way in all situations.
Pray God’s Word over each other that your relationships with Him will continue to grow and that you will live lives filled with love for Him and integrity. If you have children, pray that your children will walk closely with God and see God at work in your lives. God tells us that we will be blessed if we fear the Lord, and greatly delight in His commandments (Psalm 112:1).
Knowing that someone who loves you is praying for you each day and lifting your needs up to the Father gives you and your spouse assurance that you are not walking alone throughout the day.
Every marriage is unique and there are lots of books of ideas on how to make your marriage extraordinary. The list above is not definitive. Look at the things that are working for you and continue doing them. Find one or two new things you can put into practice to take your marriage to the next level.
Julie Morvant, LPC
Julie uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Systems, and Solution-focused therapy in her sessions. She enjoys working with individuals, teenagers, couples and families. Christian counseling using scripture is available upon request.