How to put more joy in your marriage

Just as Rome wasn't built in a day or two, neither is a marriage.

Every marriage partner longs to have a happy marriage. But how?   Blog. Husband massaging wifes shoulders. 11.13  

When my husband and I married we were crazy in love and we trusted God, so it seemed logical to expect that every day would be pure joy. After all, what more could it take? 

Then came babies. 

And bills.

And life.

It shouldn't have surprised us that we two opposite personality types experienced occasional times of strain.  

Yet, somehow they did.     

Blame it on those pesky dailies of life

We loved each other and our children dearly and yet ....

Over time the daily grind seemed to be grinding me down. Eventually I lapsed into "Dear Abby" wails:

  • "We don't communicate. You never talk to me anymore."
  • "You never listen to anything I say. You nod your head, but you tune me out."
  • "We never go anywhere alone. We need a regular date night."

Etc. (Don't miss how often I said "never." Not true, of course.)

My agreeable husband would say, "Sure," and we'd try this idea and then that. For a day or a week or a month.

Then we would settle back into our old routine.

A graph of our marriage would have shown off-the-chart happiness highs, as well as low times of feeling distant. We knew real life gets in the way of living out an all-smiles romance movie life. All along we both knew our marriage was above-average good. 

Nevertheless, I couldn't help longing for a bit more, um, excitement. (Did I mention I'm a romantic?)

To be clear, I never wanted out of my marriage. I guess I just expected it to fill my every need.

Finding out it's not about me

I got my eyes opened in a women's Bible study group. We always began by sharing our needs and praying for each other, feeling safe because every week we all pledged to maintain confidentiality.

One day "Sue" tearfully voiced her heartache about struggles in her marriage. 

Then "Laura," an older woman, said, "Don't give up. I know from experience that God can make all things new. For years my husband and I had a solid, ho-hum marriage, but I wanted more. Over time God transformed our marriage." 

By then the room was so still we could hear our breathing.

"I always knew God could make our marriage better--if He chose--so every day I prayed. And prayed. And kept imploring God to change the man I married and make him the husband of my dreams.

"One day I heard the Lord's still, small voice within me asking, 'What about you?'

"All at once I felt tears running down my cheeks

"I can't say how, but right away I understood I had become way too self-absorbed. I fell into the habit of overlooking my husband's many good qualities and fastening only on what needed. That day I confessed to God how I wasted months, even years, feeling sorry for myself. 

"Finally I prayed, 'Thank you, Lord, for my husband, who loves me. Please make me the wife he needs me to be.' 

"This became my daily prayer."

Laura went on, "When my husband came home from work he had a different wife. One who grabbed him and told him over and over how much she loved him.  

 "I didn't stop there. I made it a habit to tell him at least once a day that I appreciated him. Instead of griping I praised the good in him. It wasn't long before he responded by becoming more loving and thoughtful toward me, too. 

"It wasn't me, it was God at work in our marriage--and in me. 

"Now I can honestly say I have the marriage I always wanted and we've never been happier together."

Because one woman risked being honest and sharing her story of God's faithfulness, none of us left the same as we were when we came. In the weeks that followed other women told their stories of how God changed them--and their marriages. 

By no coincidence we were studying Matthew 7

The day when Laura opened up I drove home with verse 7 drumming in my mind:

(Jesus said) "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

I couldn't hide from the truth: I had been living with a plank in my eye. 

That day I resolved to follow my friend's example and prayed that same prayer. 

I confess it felt scary, as if I would "lose" something, maybe become a doormat.

That never happened. Instead my husband's and my marriage relationship became richer and we grew closer. Deeper. Each of us knew the peace and confidence that grew out of being married to our best friend and supporter. 

It's all about loving your neighbor

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ... The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  NIV

Remember, there's no closer "neighbor" than your spouse. 

Jesus also said in Luke 6:31: 

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."  NIV

That sounds simple, doesn't it? But it does not imply living our faith at home is easy.

How could it be? Our society is me-centered and so is our human nature. By contrast, marriage involves two, plus their children.

Christian living and loving means putting the other(s) first. The mystery in marriage is that this kind of love does not diminish oneself--or each other. Rather, it frees each one to blossom and grow stronger.  

Consider it the way to live, because it does indeed put more joy into our lives.

Let's do it, friends! 

Lenore


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