This is an easy one, huh? Ha, ha. On my Forty Days to 40 Journey, I first tackled becoming a better mom (still totally a work in progress) and now I’m on to marriage. In my original post I highlighted that I really wanted to work on the two things that tended to cause conflict: (1) me stressing about Bray’s travel schedule, and (2) me spending beyond what our budget now allows.
So I will talk about how I’m working on two things, but first wanted to share some encouragement I stumbled upon as I walked these past few days of the journey.
Remarkably (isn’t this always the way), I encountered a fair number of articles about marriage as I was figuring out how to improve. The first one, entitled How to Be Happily Married…With Kids, highlighted stuff I already knew but needed to read the reminders. I recommend reading the article because each of the tips were great. After I read it, I implemented several, including:
Schedule a date night – we were so good about going on dates once a month, even if it was just for a drink after the kids went to bed, but we hadn’t gone on one in months. We went out to a fancy dinner during Houston Restaurant Weeks last week and had a blast. We both looked great and ate great and talked the whole time about stuff entirely unrelated to kids.
Laugh – Our kids are hysterical. Sometimes we’d all just fall to laughing around the dinner table. Talk about a way to lighten the mood and a relationship!
Shortly after reading that lighter and encouraging post, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s post on Messy Marriages. She advises, after 20 years, that there’s good news: “Jesus loves those in messy marriages. He loves my husband and me in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn’t love the mess of hurt, isolation, and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us. Yes. Jesus loves me. And His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts of me. The broken parts of me. The ugly parts of me. The bitter parts of me. The loving parts of me…And Jesus loves my husband. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of my husband. The good parts of him. The broken parts of him. The ugly parts of him. The bitter parts of him. The loving parts of him. Since Jesus loves both of us, He’s the best source of help for our marriage.”
Don’t you love that? What an encouraging and fresh perspective! Since God is a big fan of marriage, he gets that when you throw two different people with different genders and ideas and perspectives under one roof until DEATH DO YOU PART that death may come sooner than is natural if you don’t rely on Him! It also served as an excellent reminder to see your husband as God does.
On the actual concrete areas I set out to improve, I hope that I have. In one area, I wasn’t really presented with a situation that normally would cause me to get emotional, but hopefully as I go through this journey I’m developing improved conflict skills that will serve me well regardless of the actual circumstances. In the area of spending, I am working on improving. For example, I took something back to the grocery store when it wasn’t what it represented whereas normally I wouldn’t take the time. I returned some items I had ordered on-line because I made the decision they were “discretionary” not necessary. I’m working on planning meals better (separate post to come on that – thanks for all your ideas) so there is less waste. The reality is, I will always spend more than my husband. But hopefully, I’m learning how to do it more intentionally and with greater discipline. That improves more than just a marriage.
What is one of the best tips or techniques you married folks have that has helped you the most? I’d love to hear what improves a marriage from those in the trenches!