Marriage Series Week 4: Advice From Older Couples

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FINDING MARRIAGE MENTORS

My kids are in a rare position in that their parents have been married for 15 years and both sets of grandparents are still together (40+ years).

Most marriages are on a rapid decline, so where do we go for advice when things get hard? While counseling is a good option, it’s also a good idea to have a few couples you look up to that you feel would give you good, healthy advice when it comes to conflict in your marriage.

I have a group of older women mentors at my church who are amazing, honest, outspoken, encouragers to new moms. These are women I personally admire and respect and have turned to in times of anguish and discouragement in all walks of my personal life. I have seen them share their hearts, their parenting fails, their marriage obstacles and encourage me that no marriage is perfect—but that there are good, happy marriages out there.

If you have someone in mind you admire, call them up, ask them to coffee. Don’t wait for others to step in, put yourself out there and introduce yourself! I’ve found that most older women are honored that younger women would come to them for advice and wisdom.

While you’re brainstorming a few people you want to get to know better, here’s some marriage advice from some of my mentors over the years.

WHAT’S ONE THING YOU DID TO KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE STRONG?

  • Play together: Have fun—laugh, date, try new things. Enjoy one another.
  • Learn about each other: Find out your love languages.
  • Communicate: Talk about your hopes and dreams, your fears, your future, your hobbies. Find time to connect each day. Kiss each other good-bye before work and before you go to sleep. Text or call often.
  • Help your husband: Encourage, support and ask what would be helpful to him.
  • Pray together: Even if he isn’t willing to pray together, you can always pray for your husband.
  • Have sex: Your physical relationship is important–even when things aren’t going well your physical relationship creates oneness. Remember you are your husband’s only love life–be available, enjoy it!
  • Read your Bible: Be intentional in what you do and remember you are not your husband’s Holy Spirit.

WHAT PARENTING ADVICE DO YOU HAVE IN REGARDS TO MARRIAGE?

  • Continue to date each other: Have date nights or weekend away–kids see it and find security in it.
  • Put your husband before your kids: This is counter-intuitive to what the world says, but children need stability, and putting your relationship first will allow you to make decisions based on what’s best for the kids.
  • Work on a healthy relationship: Have a united front, disagree in private away from the kids.
  • Be on the same page as parents: It’s ok to make decisions later to come to an agreement–“You’re grounded and Dad and I will tell you the details later”.
  • Make your husband a priority: Even when you are caring for little ones, spend time together alone.
  • Put your children to bed: This is the easiest way to create time for you and your husband to connect.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE IN DEALING WITH IN-LAWS?

  • Accept them for who they are: Try to understand why they are the way they are (feelings of loss of closeness with their son, threatened by your influence, acting out of fear, baggage from their own childhoods, etc.).
  • Don’t speak badly about your in-laws: Even though your husband may agree, it’s hurtful. It’s his family–he knows their flaws. Don’t put him in the position to feel the need to choose sides because of your words. Speak about issues in a way that shows honor and respect. Remember that his parents are the reason he turned out the way he is—the man you married was shaped by these people, the good and the bad.
  • Do your best to be kind and compassionate instead of trying to prove you are right: This is HARD with difficult people, but try your best to show compassion, humility and love. Be kind in how you approach difficult topics.
  • Show your character through actions, not words: Arguing something to death won’t help win a person’s heart, but kindness and humility will show them you are acting out of love.
  • Be a team with your husband, work together, stand together on issues: But be respectful and show honor and love towards in-laws when conflict arises.

HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH CONFLICT?

  • Don’t bring up an issue in a time of arguing: Talk to your spouse in a calm time out of love, not anger. Be careful to address areas of sin in a way that it’s about him not you. Best time is after a meal, when kids aren’t around.
  • Set the stage by affirming him and being rational, not confrontational or nagging: Praise him, compliment and share with him what he does well.
  • Allow him to point out areas you need to improve so you can hold each other accountable: You have a right to hold each other accountable but only out of love.
  • Remember what you love about your spouse: The traits that drew you to your husband are still there, they just look different. Be careful of comparison.
  • Remember who the real enemy is: Spiritual warfare is real! Satan does not want your marriage to succeed. Work together to solve the problem, not against one another.
  • You can believe the best or believe the worst: There are two ways to interpret what you’re husband’s doing–choose the noble one. God calls us to look at our spouse like he looks at our spouse
  • Pray for your husband and for him to be in the Word: You can’t force growth on someone. Realize that your husband can’t fill all your needs, but that God can–go to the Lord with your questions first.
  • Pray to God and be in relationship with him daily: When you feel disconnected, ask God to remind you why you went on that second date with your husband, why you decided you wanted to marry him.
  • It’s not going to be your words that woo your husband, it’s your actions: Find ways to connect, serve, love and support him.

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Enjoyed this marriage advice? Don’t forget to go back and check out all the rest of the posts in the Marriage Series here:

You’ve got this!

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