14 Pieces of Advice from my 14 Years in a Christian Marriage

Learn healthier ways to deal with marriage problems with these 14 pieces of advice for Christian marriages.

LOVE & MARRIAGE

In the beginning, you dated each other–you were kind, you hid your flaws, you surprised each other, you wrote sweet notes of encouragement and love. What happened?

You got comfortable. You started acting like the real you, and they saw you, flaws and all. But that’s what you wanted. And you still want.

However with REAL-NESS, comes REAL MESS. So if you want your marriage to work, you have to learn ways to keep the same problems from reoccurring, or at least learn healthier ways to deal with them.

I’ve made a few of my own messes in our marriage, such as starting an argument in bed after my husband’s fallen asleep and shoving too many potato skins down the garbage.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and most not so easily. Big changes in our marriage came from big events–his mom’s cancer, a friend’s divorce, my own illness and disabilities, struggling in parenting and poor personal choices.

But each time we chose to eventually fight together against the hard things instead of against one another. We’ve learned to invest in our marriage by attending marriage conferences at church, finding mentors, support from friends in healthy marriages and praying for one another.

We aren’t doing marriage perfect–but we are doing it the best we can–committed to thriving, not simply surviving.

In 2019, we celebrated our 14th anniversary and our relationship looks a whole lot different than when we first met. We’ve carried each other through our absolute worst and celebrated at our best.

Funny husband and wife picture

14 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

1. Laugh Together

Our honeymoon did not go as planned. We thought it would be hilarious to go to this cliche resort in the Poconos to save money. Turns out, it was a huge disappointment. In addition to me getting sick from the exhaustion of planning a wedding, our dog-sitter lost our dog. When all was said and done, we needed a vacation from our vacation.

The reason we fell in love in the first place was because we had fun and made each other laugh. I felt safe and comfortable because it didn’t feel like work, it felt like fun. We did the best we could to make the most of a crappy honeymoon. Luckily, were able to have a redo the next year with a cute cabin in the woods near our home.

Laughter has brought us through many hardships, diffusing the tension in moments of agitation. It’s a way to see positivity in a negative situation. We are a team, not each other’s enemy.

One year of marriage photo

2. Forgive Easily

I used to pick every battle because when you get married everyone gives you the “don’t go to bed angry” verse. Instead of interpreting as, “give full vent to all of your emotions at bedtime”, I learned to use it as a self-check. Nighttime anger may be diffused by something as simple as getting some sleep or having a good breakfast. If it still bothers you in the morning, pick a calm time to address it with your spouse. Once I used this tactic, 9 times out of 10 I was relieved I hadn’t made a big deal out of nothing the night before.

3. Date Each Other

Continuing to go on dates is so important especially once you have children. Coming together to refocus on each other and gain perspective in your parenting by getting a sitter and taking a breather will make you a happier, healthier couple. And in turn, better parents. We didn’t have much family nearby so we traded babysitting with friends and used local parents night out events.

4. Put Your Marriage Before the Kids

Before you had kids you were a team—continue to work together and stay on the same team. If you are constantly choosing between what the kids want and what your spouse wants, the family will crumble. Kids test their boundaries, that’s what helps them learn. Train them to understand that you and your spouse support each other. Have your disagreements out of earshot of your children. Don’t disrespect your spouse by brushing off their opinion in front of the kids. (I’m talking to myself here!) Let your spouse make their own parenting decisions without feeling the need to correct constantly. Your way is not the only right way to do things. Let your spouse help!

5. Get Away For The Night

In addition to making a habit of going on dates, plan an overnight trip once or twice a year. Even just booking a hotel in a nearby city square and walking around to look at shops, go to dinner or a movie will do wonders for your marriage. Sleep in, get room service, have sex. Seriously, make time for your spouse and try not to talk about the kids until you get home!

Five years of marriage photo

6. Surprise Each Other

One of my favorite things about my husband is that he loves to surprise me (not always fun being snuck up on, but more of the “will you marry me?” kind of surprises). This year, my family had an early birthday party for me. Our babysitter came over so my husband and I could get a fancy dinner and go to a movie. On my actual birthday, we still celebrated with cards and a picnic dinner in the living room.

7. Encourage Each Other

This is so important to do so make it a habit–set an alarm once a week to leave a sticky note, send a text or write on the bathroom mirror. Tell them why you’re proud of them, why you love them or what you noticed was thoughtful that week. A little can go a long way. This is an easy way for me to feel loved and noticed.

8. Pray For Each Other

Praying has been my go to when I’m frustrated with my husband. It calms my mind and focuses me on my own tone and may even give me some perspective on his own situation and reactions.

9. Support Each Other

I am constantly getting excited about new ideas or ventures and my husband has never told me I was foolish for attempting something new. I may not make a penny back on a new idea, but he supports me and my passions even if he is the breadwinner. So when he started restoring vintage motorcycles, my fears crept in, not about money, but about safety. But after all these years of letting me pursue my dreams, who was I to discourage his?

I voiced my concerns but said I wouldn’t tell him no. He was understanding and respectful but explained he needed something new in his life–I had just been through hell and back with my disease and he didn’t want to live in fear. He wanted to go for the things we always wanted to try. This argument was mine as well when I asked for us to start spending more money toward family vacations. In having a conversation rather than a fight, we were able to both feel heard and respected and able to go after our goals.

10. Serve Each Other

This can be as simple as making dinner each night so that your spouse can take a nap after work. It can be bringing him coffee while he’s getting ready in the morning or filling up his car with gas after you use it. It can be scheduling date nights and babysitters and sending a text: We’re going out, Thursday night work? Open the door for her, give him the better seat, do little things to put their needs before your own to show that you still love them.

Ten years of marriage photo

11. Prioritize Your Love Life

One thing that helped me understand best how my husband and I are wired differently was to figure out our love languages. I discovered that I need Words of Affirmation, while he feels most loved through Acts of Service. I didn’t understand the big deal about the sink being cleaned out or my clothes folded up, while he didn’t understand my need to be encouraged. It’s not a prideful thing, it’s about feeling loved and appreciated.

He wants the same, but he doesn’t hear it as easily through my words, he hears it through helping pay the bills and setting up vacation plans. As you grow, you may change in what areas you need to focus on the most, and chances are there are 2-3 areas that speak to you. Take the quiz or read it out loud to your husband if you need to. Learn about each other!

Advice for married couple

12. Get Your Own Hobbies

The first year or two of our marriage, I felt like I was constantly waiting on my husband to finish up with his hobbies so we could hang out. This was a bad plan. He plays a million instruments, loves being outdoors, and in general, never sits still.

As soon as I started picking back up old hobbies from high school like painting and sewing, he started interrupting me to see if I wanted to hang out more.

13. Give Each Other Freedom

One thing we’ve learned is to say yes as much as possible when we need our space. This can be because there’s something we’re excited about doing on our own (like shopping without the kids) or everyone’s driving us crazy. My favorite thing to do is writing at a coffee shop or browsing a book store. For my husband, it’s a day to go hunting or getting outside. Find your niche, and respect each other’s need for a breather every once in awhile. Try not to set time limits on the other person.

14. Listen To Each Other

While there may be a lot you need to get off your chest, your spouse also wants to know that they are being heard as well. No one wants to feel like the person is waiting to interject their point. Sometimes venting is just venting, needing an outlet to be listened to, not wanting a counselor for a solution. So make sure you’re available to listen. Don’t forget to apologize if you start taking over the conversation with your opinion (Sorry, babe!)

It isn’t through our strength that we are going strong all these years later–it’s our shared focus on Jesus to guide us and strengthen us one day at a time, without whom I could have never changed for the better.

14 years of marriage family photo

PRINT THIS FREE CHEAT SHEET FOR 14 TIPS FOR A CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

Click the image to print this poster I made as a way for you to remember the 14 pieces of advice for a healthy Christian marriage:

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Whether your Christian marriage is brand new or a few decades in, we can all use a little refresher. That’s why I created the Christian Marriage Growth Workbook! Includes advice for Christian marriages through 30 days of challenges, illustrated verse coloring pages, notes from conferences I’ve attended and books I’ve read, plus goal setting for future growth. Order in my shop:

Catch up on my other Christian marriage posts here:

You’ve got this!

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Set Couples Goals in This Marriage Growth Workbook

We all can use advice in our marriage no matter how long we’ve been together. Pursue growth in your marriage as you set couple relationship goals in this Marriage Growth Workbook.

Couple relationship goals
Couple relationship goals

MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE LAST

After 14 years I can say that the best thing we ever did for our marriage was to intentionally invest in making it better. Based on the counsel of mentors at our church, we committed to one event each year to focus on our marriage.

My own rollercoaster of emotions left me focused only on my needs. We spent the time on parenting classes, but we needed a refresher on how to do marriage well.

Whether you are a newly wed or about to celebrate a few decades of marriage, we can all use some advice on how to set goals as a couple to strengthen your relationship.

So many women are stuck in the trap of “I guess this is my life now” after they have kids.  Your relationship isn’t doing any good being stuck on the back burner. When we invested in each other, parenting became easier, and my emotions became more stable—simply put—life is easier when we are on the same page. 

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from marriage books and classes over the years:

  • Take the time to learn one another’s “Love Language”. A huge block to communication is not understanding the way your spouse needs to be shown love. You may be telling them you love them everyday, but they may not be feeling it if their primary “love language” is spending time alone together.
  • Set a foundation of friendship for you to strengthen your relationship. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Commit to the friendship part of your relationship. This will serve you well especially when times are tough. Set regular date nights, plan vacations, find little ways to connect on a daily basis.
  • Learn healthy ways to work through conflict. Be a team working against the problem, not against one another.
  • Grow spiritually as individuals and a couple. Invest in your marriage for the long run by digging deep into your spiritual life.
  • Serve one another without complaining. Make it a practice of expressing your love by helping without expecting something in return.
Couple relationship goals

SETTING COUPLE RELATIONSHIP GOALS

I saw the need for growth in our marriage years ago and I’m so thankful for the time invested and the mentors we’ve met. You may not know where to start when it comes to your marriage, so I’ve created a Marriage Growth Workbook that includes all of these lessons I’ve learned along the way!

It’s in a 41 page instant download and includes 4 weeks of Bible-based challenges to help you grow and strengthen your marriage. You can use it in a 3 ring binder, folder or staple as a packet. 

The workbook includes:

  • Discovering Your Love Language
  • 4 Weeks of Daily Challenges
    • Friendship (have fun together)
    • Teamwork (work through conflict)
    • Growth (invest in your marriage for the long run)
    • Service (expressing your love by helping without expectations)
  • 4 Bible verse coloring pages
  • 2 Goal setting reflection pages for continued growth
Couple relationship goals

WEEK 1: FRIENDSHIP

Friendship is probably the thing that drew you to your spouse in the first place. You saw that they were kind/funny/just like you/different from you and you wanted to hang out with them.

As we grow older in our relationships, we can get into the habit of becoming more of a roommate than a best friend.

Fight this drifting away by investing in your friendship. Find out what you have in common and run with it! Do you like to travel, be outdoors, try new restaurants, attend concerts or go to opening nights of your favorite movies?

When you take the time to reconnect with your spouse by being more playful, you break down barriers of miscommunication.

“Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Couple relationship goals

WEEK 2: TEAMWORK

Life is so much harder when you feel out of sync with your spouse. Most of the time problems can be resolved through better communication.

When working through conflicts, pray together and ask forgiveness from each other and the Lord. Each person just wants to feel respected, honored and loved.

Ephesians 4 teaches us to be humble, gentle (meek), patient, compassionate, kind and forgiving. Don’t get stuck in the crazy cycle of reacting out of bitterness and anger, be the first to step out in love.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Couple relationship goals

WEEK 3: GROWTH

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

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

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
Couple relationship goals

WEEK 4: SERVICE

Humility in a marriage is vital to sustainability. If you are constantly thinking about your own needs and wants without any consideration for your spouse, expect some bitterness and resentment.

Get in the habit of serving your spouse—without expecting anything in return! This can be as simple as preparing dinner so that your spouse can take a quick nap after work. It can be bringing them coffee while they’re getting ready in the morning or filling up the car with gas after you use it.

Do little things to put their needs before your own to show that you still love them.

“In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

ORDER THE MARRIAGE GROWTH WORKBOOK

Don’t settle for a mediocre marriage—bring life back into your marriage today. Start taking the steps to make your marriage what you always wanted it to be by growing closer in your relationship through this Marriage Growth Workbook.

Print one to do on your own, or print two to do together as a couple as you both work on your relationship goals.

For more posts on setting goals as a couple, read:

You’ve got this!

Marriage challenge

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Celebrate with these Family-Friendly St Patrick’s Day Activities

Be intentional in celebrating the holidays this year by creating St Patrick’s Day activities itinerary for food, family and fun activities! 

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

CELEBRATE WITH THESE ST PATRICK’S DAY ACTIVITIES

Part of my switch to more intentional living was to put family events on the calendar to look forward to. It seems that this past year needed a push more than ever as we still find ourselves couped up in the house. Each month, I make sure to plan something fun for the kids whether it’s a “Snow Day” in January or a “First Day of Summer Party” in June.

Check out our ideas on making March 17th stand out in your family!

ST. PATRICK’S DAY IDEAS

1. LOOK FOR 4 LEAF CLOVERS

This is a great one to do at the park! Take your little guys outside and pretend you’re leprechauns looking for 4 leaf clovers. It’s rare but it happens!

2. EAT AN ALL-GREEN MEAL

This one might actually inspire your picky eaters! Round up as many different green foods you can and vote on your favorites.

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Salad
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Keylime Pie
  • Apples
  • Jello

3. WEAR LOTS OF GREEN

Don’t forget to wear something green. Tell the kids they have 5 minutes to put on as many green clothing items they can find. Winner gets a prize!

4. MAKE A RAINBOW CRAFT

There are tons of rainbow craft ideas on Pinterest you can check out here. Other ideas are stringing Fruit Loops to make a necklace, making a rainbow out of PlayDoh, or painting a rainbow picture and adding cotton balls for clouds.

5. PLAY ST. PATRICK’S LAND

Download my “St. Patrick’s Land” board game for a fun family activity! Use coins for playing pieces and a dice to roll.

6. SET A LEPRECHAUN TRAP

These are fun to create with a shoebox and set out the night before St. Patrick’s Day. One year, I even trashed the bathroom with toilet paper and put green food coloring in the toilet to pretend a leprechaun had stopped by. I left chocolate coins in their leprechaun traps too!

7. GO ON A TREASURE HUNT

I loved making treasure hunts when I was a child. Share the joy of treasure-hunting with your kids with this printable activity I created just for you! Cut up the clues and put them in order around the house. A great prize would be gold coins or a St. Patrick’s themed goodie!

8. LISTEN TO IRISH SONGS

Every party’s more fun with a good soundtrack! Make sure to blast some Irish tunes. Here’s a playlist I found on Spotify: Irish Songs

To get all these printables for St. Patrick’s Day and 50 others for a holiday every month, order my Intentional Traditions and Celebrations for Families Set here:

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For more holiday activities and family fun, check out these other posts:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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