Making Marriage Work Tip #10

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I hope you have enjoyed all of these tips!  I know that each of them have improved our marriage, and I hope that your marriages will be also blessed through them.

Tip #10 – Pray for your spouse

Pray FOR them.  I didn’t say pray that they would change.  There is a world of difference.

Years ago, there was something that I really wanted to do.  It wasn’t just about buying new shoes, but was a major decision that would affect our entire family. Hubby was not on the same page as me at all!  I spent weeks, even months, praying that God would change his mind.  Make him see it my way.

Finally, God spoke to me clearly and I was convicted that I was praying the wrong way.  Instead of praying that Hubby would change, I began to ask God to change MY heart if this was not something He wanted for our family.  I asked Him to take away my desire for this, and to put me on the same page as my husband.

In almost no time, Hubby came to me and told me that he had changed his mind and he too felt this was the right thing for us to do.

I’m not saying that praying for your spouse will always result in what you want.  In fact, Hubby and I have been on the same page now for years, but we are still waiting on God to open the doors.

My point is that we need to pray for God to work in our spouse’s lives the way HE wants to, not the way we want.  If you are not on the same page about something, then ask God to change your heart if needed….and then be open to allowing Him to do so.

If you need a place to start, let me recommend these links.  Each of them gives you 31 days of topics to pray for your spouse, as well as scripture to go along with them.

 

  • 31 days of Praying for your Husband – A good friend and I walked through this together, getting together once a week to pray over our husbands aloud and it was very powerful!

 

Making Marriage Work Tip #9

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Did you think I forgot to finish my Top 10 Tips? Nope! I just went on a little vacation to see some friends, but I’m back!

Tip #9 – Share a common hobby with your spouse

You married this person because you love them, right? So, you should also like spending time with them!  Remember back in Tip #4, where I said that one of man’s greatest needs is his need for a life companion? This is it! He wants you to enjoy a hobby together.

It’s great for you to each have your own thing too.  I like scrapbooking, and Hubby likes shoot ‘em up games.  I like chick flicks and he likes war movies. 

But you have to find things you enjoy together and make a point to do them often.  Find a game for the Wii that you like together.  Train for a race if you like to run.  Learn a new sport together like SCUBA diving or golf.  If you enjoy the outdoors, go camping (it’s a great cheap family activity too!), skiing, geocaching or hiking.  If you don’t like the outdoors, try bowling, a cooking class, dancing, or shooting pool.  Find SOMETHING.  If you can’t agree on something right away, then you both put 5 ideas in a jar.  Each week, pull out an idea to try until you’ve tried them all, and then decide on one.  You might find that you like something you didn’t think you would.

If you have kids, then one of your common activities is parenting but that can’t be the only one.  The kids are important and more helpless the younger they are, but one day they will be out of the house and it is critical that you and your spouse have a relationship outside of the children, otherwise you will not even recognize the person sharing your empty nest.  I also believe it is important for your children to see you enjoying each other’s company.  One of the best gifts you can give your children is to love your spouse.  Your kids need to know that Mommy and Daddy are friends as well as husband & wife.  They need to see you laugh and play together. 

So have a night where you each do your own thing, but make sure you are also planning time each week for you to do something together.  You are going to spend the rest of your life with this person.  You want to know them, and enjoy them!

Making Marriage Work Tip #8

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Before you start reading this one, you have to promise me that you’ll read it all the way to the end.  Really, promise me.  Don’t bail out when you see the “S” word I’m about to type.  It has gotten a really bad reputation, but it’s not a bad word.  Really, it’s not.

Ready to continue? Here we go!

 

Tip #8 – Husbands, love your wivesWives, submit to your husbands.  Yes, I said “submit”, but WAIT! Don’t go anywhere.  You promised you’d keep reading, remember? 

There are a lot of great in depth studies out there on this passage, so I’ll keep it as brief as I can.  In Ephesians 5, Paul talks about marriage and the roles of the husband and wife. One of Paul’s points in this passage is that the roles of husband and wife in marriage are not arbitrarily assigned and they are not reversible without obscuring God’s purpose for marriage.  God means for our marriage to be a symbol of Christ and his love for the church body.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

We are to submit to our husbands just as we do the Lord.  That means trusting him to make smart decisions for our family.  Letting him lead the family in spiritual matters, financial decisions, job choices, parenting, and other issues that come up.  Work together as a team, even have a friendly debate on the topic, but ultimately let him guide the family and have the final say.  If you trust that your husband is in daily communion with the Lord, and he is letting the Lord lead HIM, then it will be easier for you to follow your husband because you are doing it for God.  You can rest in knowing that your husband is making the decision because he feels it is what God wants for you, not just because it is in his best interest.

Submitting to your husband is not meant to be slavish, or coerced or cowering.  It does NOT mean that your husband gets to bark orders at you, talk disrespectfully to you, sit back while you do all the work, or mistreat you in any way.  If that is happening – seek counseling immediately.  Christ doesn’t want you to submit to your husband in fear.  He wants you to submit in the same way you do to His leadership – free and willing, happy and refining. 

 

The scripture goes on to say,

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”

Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loves the church. The husband should love his wife as his own body. That is a serious endless & deeply sacrificial love! Our husbands are to wash us with the Word – that means he should be spending time reading his Bible and then discussing that with you.  Teaching you, praying with you, keeping you accountable with your quiet time.   He has the responsibility to practice good stewardship, to provide for the needs of the family, and to heal discord. 

This God given responsibility is NOT bossy, oppressive, or abusive.  It is being a servant-leader.  That means helping, not bossing.  Christ was the ultimate leader, and he washed people’s feet.  Guys, you can help with the laundry or dishes.

 

Now, I’ve heard wives say that they aren’t going to submit to their husbands because they don’t feel like he is being the spiritual leader of the family.  That he’s not seeking God so she doesn’t want to trust him with those decisions.  Or maybe the husband is not loving her the way she wants to be loved.  He doesn’t romance her or help enough with the household chores, so she doesn’t feel he deserves that respect.

Some husbands say they can’t love their wife well enough because she never submits to him.  She doesn’t let him make any decisions for the family and she acts like she has to be in charge all of the time, so he feels justified in not treating her like a princess.

WRONG.

WRONG.

WRONG.

There is no “IF……THEN” in this passage of scripture.  God’s word is speaking to both the man and the woman individually here. 

Husbands and Wives, you are each accountable to your Heavenly Father for your actions.  You alone will face our Lord on judgment day and your Heavenly rewards will be based on what you did, or did not do.  If your spouse isn’t doing their part, you still do yours.  If your spouse isn’t doing what they should, they will answer to God for it, but that is not an excuse for you to ignore God’s instructions to you.

 

Wives, you are to submit….even if your husband is not leading.  I suspect, the more you submit, the more you will see him step up and take the lead.

Husbands, you are to love your wife just as Christ loves the church, even if she isn’t submitting.  Seeing you as a loving, servant leader will likely make it much easier for her to submit.

If you are interested in reading more on this subject, I recommend John Piper’s sermon.

Making Marriage Work Tip #7

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Tip #7 is about R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect your spouse in your heart and also in your actions.  Treat them the way you want them to treat you.  This means no name calling, no pushing & shoving, no destroying their property.  It also means you don’t talk bad about them in public!  This is HUGE!!! Years ago, Hubby and I went out to dinner with a “friend” that we worked with and his wife.  The entire time we were together this woman bad-mouthed her husband.  She talked about him like he was a child and like he wasn’t sitting right beside her.  She was constantly making comments like “Oh, he can’t cook! His food tastes awful”, or “He’s the worst driver I’ve ever seen”.  Things like that.  We were so uncomfortable as we watched his face and saw him getting more and more dejected.  You could see his self esteem just melting away.  Unfortunately, they ended up getting a divorce.  Not because of that one night, but because there was an overall lack of respect in their marriage.

We need to build up our spouse – both to their face, and to others.  Extra brownie points if you talk nice about them to other people – in front of them!  It puts me on cloud 9 when Hubby compliments my cooking, or something I did and says it to other people in front of me.  I know he is the same way.  Truth is, I think anyone would love that, even if they act embarrassed. 

If this is a challenge in your marriage, start small.  Make a big deal out of little things.  Let him overhear you talking to a friend and saying “Hubby did an awesome job cooking dinner last night – it was so good!”, or “My wife made the best cookies yesterday – I love it when she bakes!”.  Find something to compliment them on…cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash, mowing, making your coffee, something they did at work or with the kids, etc…and then compliment them in public! 

Making Marriage Work Tip #6

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Tip #6 – Be a TEAM!

This tip is pretty short, and I’m speaking directly to parents for this one.

Make sure the kids know that you and your spouse are on the same team.  Your relationship with your spouse comes first.  I know that sometimes the child’s immediate needs come first because they are little, but being young and helpless does not by default make them more important than your spouse.  One day the children will be out of the house, and it will be critical that you have maintained your relationship with your spouse.  You are a couple first. 

Do NOT let the kids play the “If one parent says no, I’ll ask the other” game! 

If little Johnny wants ice cream, and Mommy says no, then Daddy needs to say no as well.  Always back up the other parent in front of the child!!! ALWAYS!  If Daddy thinks that there is a good reason Johnny should get ice cream, then he can discuss that with Mommy away from Johnny. If they agree and decide to change the answer, then let Mommy go back and give the news.  It’s not good cop – bad cop!  There is nothing wrong with saying, “Johnny, Daddy and I talked it over and he reminded me that you ate all of your vegetables today so I’m going to change my answer and let you have ice cream”.  That way it is the first parent changing their mind, not the second parent overriding them.

Not only does this show your spouse an enormous amount of respect, but it also teaches your child that marriage takes 2 people working together as a team to survive.  You are a living example of what your child will look for in a spouse one day.  Seeing parents work together as a team also builds your child’s self confidence and trust.  They know they can count on you – both of you – to work together for the best of the family.

Making Marriage Work Tip #5

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I’m back! I didn’t spend much time on the computer last week because my friend was visiting, but now that she’s gone and my daughter is at Day Camp all week, I can finish my Making Marriage Work Tips!

Today is #5 – Date Your Spouse!

That’s right, date them! Woo them! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for 1 month, 1 year, 10 years or 50!  It is important to continue to let your spouse know that you want to be with them…and only them.  Hubby and I love our daughter immeasurably and we adore spending family time together, but we also need couple time that is just for the two of us.  To be able to look into each other’s eyes and have an adult conversation, to discuss our hopes & dreams, to make each other laugh, to fall in love with each other over and over again.

Care about how you look

I think that sometimes we can get comfortable with our spouse, and then it’s easy to let ourselves go a bit.  I am guilty of this myself.  I know that he likes me without makeup, so then sometimes I don’t even fix my hair (good thing he likes ponytails too!).  We sometimes go too many days without shaving because he says it doesn’t bother him.  We wear our favorite comfy t-shirt day after day instead of putting on a cute new shirt. 

I’m not saying that we should always be at our best with hair done, makeup on, and new clothes – sometimes we’ve been working in the yard or cleaning up after a baby – but we should put forth some effort and think about how we are presenting ourselves to him.  Think about what you would have done when you were dating.  If your date had called and invited you out for coffee, how would you have dressed? We should think about how we look when we go out – would you be proud to have YOU on your arm?

This is for the guys as well as the girls!

 

It’s the little things

When Hubby and I were dating, we once went an entire year and always had fresh flowers around! One week he would buy some for me, and the next I would buy some for him.  We even had an account with a specific florist!  Of course, that was when we both worked in the IT field and made good money.  Now, finances are much tighter, but that doesn’t mean we can’t buy flowers.  They have some beautiful selections at the grocery store in the “3 bunches for $12” section.  It doesn’t have to be HUGE in size to be a GRAND gesture!  Pick up a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine, or your spouse’s favorite candy bar – just because.

 

Make the most of your season

We go through seasons in life.  Some of you are in a season without kids, so you have more flexibility.  If this is you – Take a weekend trip, or go stay in a hotel in your own city and pretend you are miles away from home.  Go on a road trip with your favorite junk food and music CDs.

Others of you are parents with young kids at home, so going out for a date can be a bit more complicated.  Paying for a babysitter, dinner and a movie can add up quickly so going out for a date gets put off – but it doesn’t have to!  Just change it up!  If you have good friends that also have kids, have a babysitting swap! You watch their kids one night while they go on a date, and then switch.  We’ve done this before and it works out nicely.  Do the babysitting at the house of the couple going out for a date.  That way you can put their kids to bed, and they can continue their date when they get home.

If you don’t know anyone in your area well enough for a babysitting swap, then have a late night date with your spouse.  One thing we did when Lovebug was younger was sit at the table and have “dinner” with her (only she would eat dinner, and we would have just enough of a snack for her to think we were still eating with her).  Then, put the kids to bed a little early & have your date at home!  You can have a candlelight dinner at the table with soft music playing while you talk.  Or, you might want to throw a blanket on the floor in the living room and have a picnic.  If you like to dance, turn on some music, dim the lights and go for it!  If you prefer to play games, then do a puzzle together or play a board game.  I think it’s also great to just cuddle up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie together.  Don’t do a movie every time though, or else you never get to talk!

 

Take the time to fall in love with your spouse again.  Of course we want our marriage to be based on friendship, and I think your spouse should be your best friend.  I don’t want us to be just friends though. 

Making Marriage Work Tip #4b

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Tip #4b – Her Needs

A husband can make himself irresistible to his wife by learning to meet her seven basic marital needs.

1.  Her need for a spiritual leader.  He is a man of courage,  conviction, commitment, compassion, and character.  He takes the initiative in cultivating a spiritual environment for the family. He becomes a capable and competent student of God’s Word and lives out before all a life founded on the Word of God.  He leads his wife in becoming a woman of God, and he takes the lead in training the children in the things of the Lord.    (Psalm 1,Ephesians 5:23-27)

I love how all this works together.  When your husband is being a spiritual leader, then he is a man of character.  When he is a man of character he treats you with respect, which makes you admire and respect him.  That in turn leads to him listening and appreciating you, which leads to physical intimacy.  It’s a great cycle 🙂  I love knowing that Hubby seeks the Lord in his life and that makes it so much easier to trust in his decisions for our family.

 

2.  Her need for personal affirmation/appreciation.  He praises her for  personal attributes and qualities.  He extols her virtues as a wife, mother, and homemaker.  He openly commends her, in the presence of others, as a marvelous mate, friend, lover, and companion.  She feels that to him, no one is more important in this world.  (Proverbs 31:28-29, Song of Solomon 4:1-7, 6:4-9, 7:1-9)

When my husband praises me it puts me on cloud 9.  When he commends me in public – it makes me love him even more.  The words the husband speaks have such a power over his wife, and he can break her down or build her up.  When my husband tells me I’m doing a good job at something, it makes me want to do it more.  It makes me want to do it even better!

3.  Her need for personal affection (romance).  He showers her with timely and generous displays of affection.  He also tells her how much he cares for her with a steadfast flow of words, cards,  flowers, gifts, and common courtesies.  Remember:  Affection is the environment in  which sexual union is enjoyed and a wonderful marriage developed. (Song of Solomon 6:10,13,Ephesians 5:28-29,33)

Gifts are not my love language, but I do love love love getting cards with handwritten notes.  I adore flowers too.  They don’t have to be big and fancy and expensive.  The “3 for $12” bunches at the grocery store work just great for me!  Romance can also be free! I love soft music, a cup of tea, and a bubble bath run for me.  Or a fire in the fireplace, a bowl of popcorn, dimmed lights and a movie.  Romance is dead in too many relationships because we can’t live up to what we see on TV.  We need to get back to the basics.  Romance is sweet, thoughtful, simple, and meaningful.

4.  Her need for intimate conversation.  He talks with her at the feeling level (heart to heart).  He listens to her thoughts (i.e.,  her heart) about the events of her day with sensitivity, interest, and  concern. Conversations with her convey a desire to understand her,  not to change her. (Song of Solomon 2:8-14, 8:13-14, I Peter 3:7)

I love to talk, and I love to know I am being listened to.  I love it when Hubby comments on what I’m talking about and engages in the conversation.  Men generally use fewer words than women do though, so this can be a tough one.  I can talk on and on about something I feel passionate about, only to get an “uh-huh” response from Hubby.  Turns out he IS listening, and he fully got what I was saying, but didn’t feel he had anything to add.  Very matter of fact.  Why talk just to talk?  Well, he’s learned that sometimes he does have to talk just to talk so that I know that he’s paying attention to me, and because it makes me feel listened to when he asks probing questions about whatever topic I’m trying to discuss.   Just the same, it makes me feel important when he takes the time to talk to me about his day.  He’s very good at compartmentalizing so when he’s home, he’s in home mode and not thinking about work.  I, on the other hand, want to hear about his day in as much detail as possible because it makes me feel close to him, like I shared in his day.  It’s a constant balance and work in progress.

5.  Her need for honesty and openness.  He looks into her eyes and, in love, tells her what he really thinks (Ephesians 4:15).  He explains his plans and actions clearly and completely because he regards himself as responsible for her.  He wants her to trust him and feel secure. (Proverbs 15:22-23)

This goes without saying.  Our relationship is nothing if we don’t have honesty and trust.  Hubby makes me feel safe and secure, and that’s priceless.

6.  Her need for home support and stability.  He firmly shoulders the responsibility to house, feed, and clothe the family.  He provides and protects, and he does not feel sorry for himself when things get tough. Instead he looks for concrete ways to improve home life.  He  desires to raise their marriage and family to a safer and more fulfilling level. Remember: The husband/father is the security hub of the family  (ITimothy 5:8)

It is nice to feel provided for.  To know that he will always do whatever it takes to bring home the bacon and provide for us.  We’ve had to go through a few unemployment phases in our marriage, but I always knew that he would do whatever it took to make sure we were secure.

7.  Her need for family commitment.  He puts his family first. He commits his time and energy to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of the children.  For example, he prays with them (especially at night by the bedside), he reads to them, he engages in sports with them, and takes them on other outings. He does not play the fool’s game of working long hours, trying to get ahead, while children and spouse languish in neglect.    (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:19-20)

Knowing that the family is important to your husband is one of the most incredible feelings in the world.  Knowing that Hubby LOVES to be a Daddy and truly enjoys spending time with our daughter is something I am so thankful for.  He will tell you that he is not a babysitter – he is a Daddy! He wants to be involved with her and her activities.  He adores his time reading to her, playing with her and talking to her.  He takes her on dates.  He never tries to rush away from her, or from us.  He has an incredible work ethic, but whenever he can, he wants to be home with us.  Again, those feelings – of being loved and knowing you are a top priority – lead to respect and intimacy.

Making Marriage Work Tip #4a

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Sorry I skipped a day! Lovebug and I ended up spending the entire day yesterday at a friend’s house swimming, grilling dinner, watching the kids play, and having great conversation.  We stayed so late we had to turn on the pool light to see anything! Good times!  So, I didn’t get to post this until now.

Tip #4a – His Needs vs. Her Needs (yes, another 2 part tip!)

We all know that men and women speak different languages, and it can be hard to understand each other at times.  To make it even more complicated, we don’t even both need the same things!  Men and women are wired differently.  God created us differently to serve different purposes.  Instead of letting that drive us crazy, we have to figure out how to embrace our differences and appreciate them.

A few years back, a spiritual mentor friend of Hubby’s gave him 2 pieces of paper.  On one of them was a list of the “7 Basic Needs of a Woman”, and on the other were the “5 Basic Needs of a Man”.

Notice anything?

Anyone surprised that women have more needs than men do?  This is no surprise in my marriage either.  I’m much more emotionally needy than Hubby is.  He’s actually quite logical and straight to the point about most things.  That’s one of the reasons I love him so – he provides the balance that I need.

Today, I’m going to list out the “5 Basic Needs of a Man”, and tomorrow, I’ll list the one for the women.

 

A wife makes herself irresistible to her husband by learning to meet his five basic needs:

1. His need for admiration and respect.  She understands and appreciates his value and achievements more than anything else. She reminds him of his capabilities and helps him maintain his walk with God and also his self-confidence. She is proud of her husband, not out of duty, but as an expression of sincere admiration for the man she loves and with whom she has chosen to share her life. (Ephesians  22:23,33)

This means ladies, that you need to TELL your husband that you are proud of him.  Even better if you do it in public in front of his friends and co-workers.  He wants to know that you think he’s “all that”.

 

2.  His need for sexual fulfillment.  She becomes an excellent sexual partner to him.  She studies her own response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in her, then she communicates this information to her husband, and together they learn to have a sexual relationship that both find repeatedly satisfying and enjoyable. (Proverbs 5:15-29, Song of Solomon 4:9-5:1, I Cor 7:1-5, Hebrews 13:4)

I know many of you are surprised that this is #2 and not #1, but it makes sense.  Most guys (at least ones past puberty) care about knowing they are admired & respected by their wife even more than they care about sex.   However, the sex IS important!  It’s not just sex though.  Did you see the word “communicate” in there?  That goes back to Tip #2.  We have to communicate with our spouse about this topic.  Trust me when I tell you that your husband wants it to be enjoyable for you, not just for him.  (If he doesn’t – seek a counselor ASAP.  Seriously.  Sex should not be a power trip.)  

 

3.  His need for home support.  She creates a home that offers him an atmosphere of peace and quiet and refuge.  She manages the home and care of the children.  The home is a place of rest and rejuvenation. Remember: the wife/mother is the emotional hub of the family (Proverbs 9:13, 19:13, 21:9, 19, 25:24)

Think back to Tip #2b, and the “Top 3” that I talked about.  Husbands want to know that the home is a safe, loving place to come home to.  I’ve heard men say “I wish I had stayed at the office so I didn’t have to come home”.  That is not where you want your marriage to be.  Do your “Top 3” so that your husband can feel welcomed when he walks in the door.  Get up and greet your husband at the door when he comes home. Hand him a glass of cold water if it’s hot out, or offer to make him some hot cocoa in the winter. 

Ladies – If you also work outside of the home, then give yourself some grace and get some help.  Consider paying a maid service to take care of the big things so that you and your husband can focus less on the dusting and more on each other. Or work out a shared chore list so that both of you are sharing the load for taking care of the home. Be a team! 

 

4.  His need for her attractiveness.  She is possessed of inner and outer beauty. She cultivates a Christ-like spirit in her inner self. She keeps herself physically fit with diet and exercise, and she wears her hair, makeup, and clothes in a way that her husband finds attractive and tasteful.  Her husband is pleased and proud of her in public, and also in private. (Song of Solomon 1:8-10, 2:2, 6:13, 7:9, I Peter 3:1-5)

Before you get too excited, let’s note a couple things that this does NOT say.  This does NOT say that you have to be super skinny in a size 0 for your husband to find you attractive.  He wants you to be fit, to eat right, to be active and to care about those things. He wants you to have enough energy to do fun activities with him, to feel good enough about yourself that you enjoy intimacy, and to have confidence in yourself.  He does not expect you to be perfect!  It also does NOT say that you have to be dressed up with makeup on and your hair curled every minute of the day.  It says to wear your hair, makeup and clothes in a way that HE finds attractive.  I know several husbands, my own included, that love the look of shorts, a sweatshirt and a ponytail with no makeup!  If that’s the case, then be thankful he appreciates you that way and enjoy it!  It’s always nice to dress up on occasion and go out, but it doesn’t mean you have to have makeup on 24 hours a day.  Taking 5 minutes to run a brush through your hair, and to squirt a bit of body spray on before he walks in the door doesn’t hurt though.

 

5.  His need for a life companion.  She develops mutual interests with her husband. She discovers those activities her husband enjoys the most and seeks to become proficient in them.  If she learns to enjoy them, she joins him in them.  If she does not enjoy them, she encourages him to consider others that they can enjoy together. She becomes her husband’s best friend so that he repeatedly associates her with the activities he enjoys most.    Song of Solomon 8:1-2,6)

She becomes his best friend” – This is so important!  Your husband wants to do things with you! He wants you to watch a hockey game with him, go see a movie with him, or take interest in how football is played so you can talk about the game.  Marriage is a 2-way street, so you have to give and take.  If he loves football, then watch the game with him and really learn about it. Ask him questions so that he can teach you how to enjoy it.  Just don’t ask questions DURING the game!  If he loves golf, then take some lessons so that you can go play together once a week.  Whatever it is, take an interest in it.  You might not be truly interested in it at first, but you ARE interested in spending time with your husband, so give it a shot and you might find out you like it too.  If not, try another one until you find one you can do together.  It’s so important for your bonding, intimacy and communication that you spend time together doing something you both enjoy.  Then if golf isn’t your thing, and he isn’t interested in your scrapbooking you can get a sitter and each spend a Saturday doing your own thing.  Then come back together for a late night date of take-out and a movie when the kids are in bed.  Take turns picking the movies! Even if you don’t like the movie, enjoy the cuddling!

Making Marriage Work Tip #3

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Tip #3 – Learn your spouse’s Love Language

If you haven’t read the book, The 5 Love Languages, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Buy a copy, get it from the library, or you can even take a quick, fun quiz online to determine your language.

We all have a primary love language.  What that means is that we all have a certain way that we like to be shown love.   The 5 languages discussed in the book are:

 

1. Quality Time – do you feel loved when your spouse just spends time with you?

2. Acts of Service – do you feel loved when your spouse does favors, errands, chores for you?

3. Physical Touch – do you feel loved when your spouse touches you?

4. Words of Affirmation – do you feel loved when your spouse tells you that you are beautiful, or that he appreciates you?

5. Gifts – do you feel loved with your spouse gives you presents?

 

Chances are, you and your spouse have different primary love languages – I know Hubby and I do.  Our primary language can even change depending on your season of life.   So how does this language affect your marriage?    Well, most people love others the way they want to be loved.  That sounds good, but it can cause some needs in our marriage to go unmet if I only love my spouse through MY love language, but not his own.

For example…

My primary love language is Quality Time.  Hubby’s is a tie between Physical Touch & Words of Affirmation.   Say we’ve been spending a lot of time together watching movies, running errands, playing games with our daughter and other activities.  My primary needs are being met.  I am one happy wife because I’m getting all this time with my husband.  But if I’m not also physically touching him – hugging him, kissing him (and more of course!), and I’m not speaking words of affirmation to him, then his needs are being neglected.

Let’s look at another one…

Let’s say Hubby’s primary language is Gifts, and mine is Physical Touch.  Hubby is working late every day working on a big project.  He’s coming home after I’m in bed, and leaving before I get up.  I never see him, but everyday he leaves me a little present on the table.  A candy bar, some flowers, a candle.  If his language is gifts then he thinks he’s showing me love, but if I don’t care about gifts and what I really want is physical attention then I’m just building up resentment day after day after day.

What we have to do is learn how to balance our love languages.  We can only do this if we identify what they are.  Learn your language and your spouses and then work together to love each other the way they want to be loved.

If my language is Acts of Service, and Hubby’s is Physical Touch, then we can work together and he knows that if he helps me do the dishes after dinner and helps brush our daughter’s teeth before bed, then I will be much more in the mood for physical touch later and will want to show him love in that way.

If Hubby’s language is Quality Time, and mine is Acts of Service, then maybe he helps me clean the house and then I sit down with him to watch a movie or a game.

See how this works? It’s amazing! It really helps you see your spouse in a different way.

Once you get this figured out with your spouse, take a look at some of the other people in your life – your best friend, your parents, your in-laws, and even your kids if they are old enough.  See if you can identify their love language, or ask them.  Doing this has helped me in some of those relationships a great deal too.

Sometimes we do have to make adjustments of course.  Right now, Hubby is deployed so neither one of our primary love languages are being fulfilled.  Mine is Quality Time, and his is Physical Touch.  However, we both have Word of Affirmation in the top 3, and that is something we can do long distance.  We can encourage each other, praise each other, tell each other they look hot, etc.   So, if you are in a challenging season of your life, then take another look at your lists and see how you can make adjustments.  If you are a husband working a lot of overtime, or deployed, then maybe you send each other gifts and flowers (Gifts), or maybe you budget a maid service a couple times a month for your spouse (Acts of Service) since you can’t be there to help out.

Be flexible.  Be willing to show love the way your spouse needs to receive it, and be able to receive it the way they need to show it.

Making Marriage Work Tip #2b

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Ok, this is really a continuation of Marriage Tip #2 which was “Communication”.   I promised I would share with you my communication secret that changed our marriage, so here I am!  Yesterday,  I talked a little bit about unmet expectations and how they can be a downfall.  In my opinion, they are the root of most marital problems, and they can cause so much unnecessary stress in a relationship.  Your spouse can’t read your mind, no matter how great they are.  You have to talk to them and tell them what you want them to know.   Don’t assume they know, no matter how obvious it seems.

So, ready for our secret?

It’s amazing.  It’s actually far from a secret.  Seriously.  I try to tell everyone about this.  In fact, if you’ve known me very long, you’ve already heard me talk about it.  I wrote about it last year, so it might look familiar to some, but I’m going to repost it here because I figure once a year it should make it’s way to the front!

Here it is, “How to revolutionize your marriage and your life!”

A few years ago when I was a first time mom with a budding toddler, I remember feeling overwhelmed as I tried to manage the house and our daughter at the same time.  It felt like I was constantly picking up after her in one area, only to have another area get messed up.  She was still too young to pick up her own toys and just felt like a vicious cycle of frustration.

During this time, one of my dearest friends talked to me about the “Top 3”.  It completely changed my life and my marriage for the better!!  Seriously.  It’s like the best kept secret in town.  I continue to use it to this day.

Want to get in on this awesomeness?  Just follow these steps.

1. Set aside a few minutes for a meeting with your spouse.

2. Ask him to tell you the top 3 things he wants/needs/expects when he comes home from work each day.  If he doesn’t work outside the home, then ask for the top 3 things he wants done every day.  These things are family/household related….not bedroom related…we already know about those. ;)

3. LISTEN! Just listen.

4. Make a deal with him.  You will do your absolute best to make sure those 3 things are done each and every day.  He agrees not to complain about the things that are *not* done.

(If you both work outside the home, then I encourage each of you to do this.  You both have needs and expectations about what is going to happen when each of you get home.  Prioritize the top 3 on each side.)

How this helped us…

 

Before we made this deal, I was spending so much time picking up toys and straightening up the living room before Hubby would come home.  I wanted him to walk in without seeing toys spread out all over the floor, because I thought he would want that.

Turns out, he didn’t care about the toys.  He said that if he saw toys on the floor that meant I had been playing with our daughter and entertaining her.

 

Before this deal, I never made our bed.  We were going to get right back into it anyway, right?

Turns out, he LOVES to have the bed made.  He said that walking into the bedroom with the bed made (even if there was other clutter in the room) just made the whole room look and feel cleaner and more relaxing.  I’ve since learned that he’s right and I now LOVE to have my bed made.

 

Before this deal, I would wait until he got home and ask him what he wanted for dinner.  I wanted to make something he liked, and wanted him to feel like he had input without me making his choices for him.

Turns out, he doesn’t care one bit what we have for dinner, but he cares a lot about having to think about it.  He wanted to be able to ask “What’s for dinner?” and get a definite answer.  He had been thinking and making decisions all day and didn’t want to make that one.  He didn’t care if the answer was frozen pizza, take-out, or even if I told him he was grilling burgers for dinner.  He didn’t even insist that it be ready when he got home, although soon after was preferred because he was hungry.  He just didn’t want to make the decision.

Can you see how this can work?  I was trying so hard to do what I thought he wanted, but once I stopped to ASK what he wanted, I was able to actually please him without all the extra stress.

 

So, my husbands Top 3 things are:

1. Making the bed

2. Having an answer to the question, “What are we having for dinner?”

3. Not having dirty dishes in the sink

 

All of that is with the understanding that taking care of the kids comes above all else!  If a child has a fever, gets sick, or is just having one of those days that requires extra work and attention, the Top 3 are forsaken.

Give it a try, and I guarantee you will be amazed at the results!  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  For the first several weeks of trying this, the bed would often get made right after he called to tell me he was on the way home.  I was doing it for HIM, not for me.  Now, I do it for me too!  At least, *most* of the time :)

It could work the other way too, where the stay-at-home-mom tells the husband her “Top 3” that she needs when he gets home.  We just haven’t had the need to do that here.  I tell Hubby when I need him to take over for a little bit, or if I need a break.  I’m so blessed to have a husband that willingly and joyfully participates in the kids’ bathtime & bedtime routines, so I haven’t felt the need to give him a Top 3.  However, if you don’t get this type of help from your husband, then I highly encourage you to make this Top 3 thing a 2 way street.