When I was about 12 years old, I attended a family bridal shower for my soon-to-be aunt Marilee. We played a game where we had to think of marriage advice inspired by different kitchen utensils. It was pretty nerdy, with a “Treat each other ‘grate’ (cheese grater)” and, “‘Open’ your heart to each other (can opener),” etc. Until we got to my cousin Lexi, who was my exact same age. Inspired by a spatula, she advised:
“Don’t flip your love over. Let it burn.”
The crowd went wild, especially because it came from a tween! And I haven’t forgotten it, fifteen years later. You know what else? That might be the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard from anyone. Ever. It has helped my marriage, that’s for sure. But of course you have to think of ways to let your love burn, so it involves a lot of work
. But that is when marriage thrives the most.
So without further ado, here is my not-so-professional but I’d-like-to-think-awesome list of marriage advice. It’s a compilation of things I studied in college, things I’ve learned about myself in marriage, and things my sweet husband has done that I deeply appreciate. These snippets of advice are centered around building and maintaining trust, friendship and affection.
1. DELETE THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX FROM YOUR PHONE.
If there is a number you truly need, have your spouse put it in his or her phone.
And if for some reason someone of the opposite sex needs to get your number, tell them that you and your spouse have a special deal where you don’t take numbers of people of the opposite sex, and offer to give the person your spouse’s number instead. I have a great married pal at work who wanted to double date with John and me, so he asked for my phone number so he could call and set things up. I told him of John’s and my rule, offered to give him John’s number instead, and he absolutely loved that idea. He said he wants to start doing that with his wife, too.
2. FORWARD ALL TEXTS CONVERSATIONS OR EMAILS FROM PEOPLE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX TO YOUR SPOUSE.
Of course there might be a few stragglers from all the numbers you deleted, but you can still foster trust with your spouse by reporting any type of technological interaction with someone of the opposite sex to him or her (FACEBOOK, ANYONE?). John and I do this, and it strengthens our love for each other a little more each time we do, even though it’s something seemingly little.***editor’s note: A lot of people have expressed issues with #1 and #2. I may have made it sound like John and I formally and rigidly report all interactions of the opposite sex to each other, and that we get in huge fights and lose trust if we don’t, but it’s really quite casual. We just mention it in passing to keep the other informed, and to help keep ourselves accountable (and believe it or not, we do have friends of the opposite sex…). A lot of people have told me that they think doing this would foster suspicion and distrust in their relationship, but I still stand by what I said. From my personal experience (which is far more extensive than I let on on this blog…) it is just so much safer to keep your husband or wife in “the know.” Plus, no matter how great a marriage is, its strength and passion naturally ebbs and flows over the years. John and I have talked about the importance of investing in and protecting our marriage every second, even when it’s at its best, so that when things get a little tougher we are in the habit and never let it get away from us. If you don’t supervise your marriage when it is good, what motivation would you have to when it’s hard? It’s the “little things” like mentioning your old boyfriend from High School wants to be friends on Facebook (etc…) that can prevent a lot more damage that you might not even realize is possible in a healthy relationship. I mean, why NOT try to keep our relationship as safe and cherished as possible? It is our MARRIAGE, after all. Kinda important to us.
3. TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONES AFTER 8:00pm
(we are working on this one…)
Or whatever time works with your schedule so that you have undivided time together each day, even if it’s only for twenty minutes at night. During this time, talk about your days. Invite the other into your world by painting them a picture of what you experienced that day. If you do this for several nights and you start to see patterns in your spouse’s day, ask him or her about it, or about things you’ve recognized are important to them.
4. ASK FOR ADVICE FROM YOUR SPOUSE
Everyone loves to hear that their opinion is valued. If you ask your spouse for advice, it gives him or her a sense of importance and being needed by you. Plus, chances are they’ll give you their advice even if you don’t ask for it, so it would be nice to take the opportunity to turn the exchange into something more meaningful that builds the other up.
5. SCHEDULE ALONE TIME
What you do with that time is up to you and your spouse, but just make sure you make a schedule of when you will spend time alone with each other and then stick to it. It will give you something to look forward too, think about, get excited about, and that way your spouse is always on your mind and in your heart.
6. FLIRT UNAPOLOGETICALLY
Flirting, in essence, is using words and actions to make someone of the opposite sex feel good about themselves. Don’t feel silly, just be sappy and sassy to the extent you feel comfortable. Simply expound on the feelings you are already feeling–tell your spouse why
you think they are amazing, not just that you think they are amazing. Tell your spouse how
you are physically attracted to them. Tell your spouse how
they are intelligent, capable, and competent. Men like to feel like heros, women like to feel appreciated–so keep that in mind and tell your spouse what he or she likes to hear. And try to vocalize it as often as you think it. No one ever gets sick of hearing how amazing they are.7. SAVE YOUR BEST SELF FOR YOUR SPOUSE
Life is full of obligations that wear you out. Then when you get home at the end of the day you are too tired to have meaningful exchanges with your spouse. So, throughout your day, think of ways you can conserve some of your energy so that you can return to your spouse at the end of the day ready to give all your heart.
8. PRIMP FOR EACH OTHER
This goes along with saving your best self for your spouse. Before you are reunited at the end of a long day, take time to freshen up for your spouse. Brush your teeth or pop some gum. Reapply deodorant and smelly-good spray. Blow your nose. Gals, touch up your makeup and hair. Put on a cute outfit, or at least appear like you’ve made a little effort. It helps keep the courtship fresh.
9. PROACTIVELY THINK OF WAYS TO SERVE YOUR SPOUSE
It is my opinion that there is no better way to continually fall in love with your spouse than by serving him or her. We love the most the things we sacrifice for, so make sure you are thinking of ways to sacrifice for your spouse. It could be time, comfort, interests, convenience, but just make sure you consciously sacrifice a little each day. When John is annoying me for an extended period of time for one reason or another (Don’t worry, Baby, this is just hypothetical…) I brainstorm ways I can serve him, and then I do it. My heart is always softened and I remember why I’m crazy about him and forget why he drives me crazy. Having said that, it is equally important to let your spouse sacrifice for you, which can often times be a little more difficult to do.
10. FEED YOUR SPIRITS TOGETHER
This could be up for individual interpretation, but for John and me it involves praying together, reading the Word of God together, and thinking of ways we can serve God’s children together. Your dyad is stronger when it’s really a triad with the Lord.
So there ya go. Like I said, I’m no professional or anything. I just love my marriage and have pinpointed some little things that have made ours so great. So hopefully they can help yours, as well. I’d love to hear things that help your marriage, too, so share the love!!