3 Tips for Building a Strong Marriage

I really hate divorce! Like, seriously…HATE divorce. It’s truly heart-breaking to see two people who used to be so in love with one another that they committed to a lifetime together get to the place where they can say, “I just don’t want to be with you. Maybe I never did.” For couples in this position, they’ve typically had a slow build up of disappointments and unhappiness leading to this stage. The good news is you can put some protective factors in place so that you don’t become one of those couples.

Fight discouragement when things get tough:

I’ve heard many, many people say that they believe that marriage shouldn’t be that hard if you’re with the right person. You can see my dispute for the “right person” belief here and my thoughts about marriage being hard here. It is 100% normal to sometimes have difficult seasons in marriage. Some of mine and my hubby’s have had to do with financial struggles with us both being in school, moves from one state to the next, and struggles with infertility. Hard times in marriage don’t necessarily come because of problems brewing between two people. Sometimes life is just plain painful. And, if you don’t have pretty decent stress reduction skills, time to date one another, and effective communication, tough times can directly affect the marriage. Plain and simple, all of us will have times of struggle in life. Divorce-proof your marriage in tough times by committing to turning toward one another and embracing a team attitude.

Take a stab at marriage counseling:

I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they have concerns about seeking counseling because of negative experiences in the past or because they believe that counseling is proof that their marriage is beyond repair. The opposite is actually true. Counseling can bring huge benefits to your marriage. When both people are coming to improve their relationship and both are willing to make some changes, counseling can be highly effective. The problem is, many couples will wait years after developing problems before coming in to do some work. Think of it this way – if you find out early that you are having elevated blood sugars and you can treat it before it gets serious, you’re much more likely to avoid a diagnosis of diabetes. In the same way, working on small problems early in their development means that you’re more likely to have success in the counseling process.

Even though it’s tough, talk about the problems:

I’ve worked with several couples going through intense pain in their relationship. I’ll give assignments to them specifically designed to help them connect better and feel more closely bonded. Many times, this will lead to couples no longer wanting to talk about the difficulties. They’ll note, “Things felt so good on date night, I didn’t want to bring up an issue.” Or, they’ll say that talking about problems will only make them worse. I politely disagree. After all, the lack of effectively talking about issues in the past is the reason that they are seeking guidance and help at this time. Think of going to a medical doctor because you’ve been having a host of intermittent symptoms that have you concerned. Would you leave this information out at your appointment if you were not experiencing them in that moment? Not if you wanted to get better. You’d mention the issues so your doctor can help you. We should do the same in marriage. Talk about the problems so you can find a workable solution.

While it takes a little work, it really is possible to stay committed to one another and to enjoy your marriage. If you’re looking to improve your marriage, try the following:

1. Sit down with your spouse and talk about one thing you can each do to work on having a more fulfilling marriage.
2. If you feel you need a little help, seek out a pastor or counselor that can help you develop some communication and conflict resolution skills.

Marriage should be enjoyable, so do the work to make sure yours is.

Praying God’s richest blessings on you and your marriage,
Jessica

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