Marriage is what you allow it to be. It can be a place of safety or it can be a place of chaos. It can be fun and exciting, or it can be stagnant and boring. It can be all about conflict or it can be about fighting well. Marriage, when centered around Jesus, is meant to add value to our lives. Marriage, when centered around Jesus, should make us the best version of ourselves. Marriage, when centered around Jesus, should be our safest human relationship.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I reached out to the people in my life that I think have embodied this type of marriage. These people aren’t perfect, and neither are their marriages, but I believe they know something we could all benefit from in our marriages.
NEWLYWEDS (MARRIED FOR 1-4 YEARS)
“Everyone told me communication was so important but they don’t give practical ways to have healthy communication. I’d say when your partner opens up about their feelings, handle them like a delicate gift, not your right. Even if you disagree or they upset you, feelings are always valid to the person who feels them and they can be really hard to share. Handling them with grace keeps a lot of unnecessary hurt out of your conversations.” – wife of 2.5 years | Our love story: We met after I felt like God called me to move to San Diego. We spent 1.5 years dating in secret to make sure this was the real deal because we didn’t want to hurt the ministries and friendships we served in/had together! Another 1.5 years of dating openly and then we got married and just became parents!
“Always assume your spouse has good intentions.” – wife of 4.5 years
“Give your spouse a safe space to be themselves! I want to love who my spouse actually is, not who I ask them to be to meet some kind of pre-existing expectation I have of them.” – wife of 3.5 years
“Prioritize Jesus being the center of all that you do. Not first, not the middle, not last. The CENTER. Also, when either of you says “I’m sorry”, don’t say “It’s okay”, because it usually isn’t. Say “I forgive you.” There is power in forgiveness!” – wife of 2.5 years | Our love story: He has had a crush on me since 6th grade, and remained in the friend zone for like 7 years. We became inseparable best friends in High School and ended up going to the same college – then finally started dating there. We got married the week after we graduated and have been friends for 13 wonderful years!
“LET YOUR PRIDE GO.” – husband of 2.5 years
“Communication is key and everyone communicates differently. Learn how your partner communicates so you can better understand one another during arguments or when you’re stuck with a tough decision.” – wife of 1.5 years | Our love story: We were in the same class and on the same soccer team in kindergarten. Then we dated for a few months in 7th grade. In our junior year of high school, we started dating and then we both went to the same college where our relationship really grew into something special.
“Loving your spouse is a daily decision. It is not a feeling or emotion, it is a choice.” – husband of 3.5 years | Our love story: I wanted to marry my best friend, and that is exactly what I did.
“Just as you learn your spouses love language, take the time to learn how your spouse communicates. In order to communicate more effectively, take steps to change the way you communicate to the way they communicate.” – wife of almost 4 years
“I have learned to over-communicate. Not just about your day or grocery lists. Your heart. Your heart and thoughts are a part of what makes you, you. If you aren’t intentionally sharing that with your spouse it can cause a drift and mess with intimacy. This isn’t easy for me, speaking or listening. It’s practiced and learned through intentionality. My husband and I have created space each and every day (sometimes it’s 10 min and sometimes it’s an hour) to talk. To hear each other. To pray with each other. It’s been a huge game-changer. I feel seen, heard, and CLOSER. I feel like I know what my spouse is thinking and loving and dreaming all the time. I learn something new every week about him. It’s changed some dynamics that for years I was trying to fill and couldn’t figure out how.” – wife of almost 4 years | Our love story: We met and I didn’t like him. Became friends, fell in love with him. But he had a girlfriend so I waited. Now we’re married and have three angel babies.
MARRIED FOR 5 YEARS – 10 YEARS
“Find things to dream and scheme about together” – wife of almost 7 years | Our love story: He adored my brother as his youth pastor. He fell in love with me after falling in love with my family and has been choosing to do so every day since.
“Be honest about your struggles, vulnerable with your feelings, and open about your sins. The best love you’ll ever receive is when you are fully known inside and out, for the good and bad, but still loved, chosen, and forgiven no matter what. Do that for your spouse.” – wife of 7 years | Our love story: We are high school sweethearts, who got married during college. We both have had to forgive each other for deep wounds, but working through the hard things together has created a bond that nothing can break. God has healed us individually through restoring our marriage and He gets all the glory for the beautiful family we are today.
MARRIED FOR 11 YEARS – 20 YEARS
“Say you are sorry.” – wife of 11 years
“Communication is key! Defensiveness in marriage builds walls. Even if what your spouse has to say is not fun to hear, you need to consider it without letting it offend. Trust that they have your best interest at heart and do not want to hurt you. They want you to be the best version of yourself.” – wife of almost 12 years | Our love story: We met on multiple double dates with other people. A year and a half later I initiated a conversation on MySpace congratulating him on a record he broke during a college football game. We went on a coffee date two weeks later, fell in love almost immediately and the rest is history!
“Three things: 1. is this a 5-second problem, 5-day problem, or a 5-year problem? Realize what issues are worth getting upset over. 2. Conflict has to do with expectations. The key to resolving or avoiding conflict is to communicate your expectations and work from there. 3. Mutual sacrifice for mutual benefit- that’s how a healthy marriage works” – husband of 11 years
MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS – 30 YEARS
“Put God first. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Never ever ever ever give up!” – husband of 20 years | Our love story: Met in church youth group in the 5th grade and was her brother’s best friend and followed each other throughout all of schooling. We started dating seriously in college and the rest is history. Married now 20 years with 2 kids.
MARRIED FOR 30 YEARS – 50 YEARS
“Receive God’s forgiveness wholeheartedly so you can forgive your spouse abundantly.” – wife of 46 years | Our love story: We started off as two ticks without a dog. I jokingly say that we fell in lust instead of love. Then we met Jesus and He continues to teach us daily how to live life crazy in love with each other!
“Patience, always treat them the way you want to be treated. God created your spouse, faults and all – just as he did you. Serving each other increases your bond. Think of your spouse’s needs before you think of your own and pray daily for them and that your love will grow deeper. Talk about your issues and how things make you feel calm. If it gets heated take a pause and try again later. One more – let the past stay in the past, don’t bring up past mistakes.” – wife of 35 years | Our love story: We meet when I was a freshman in high school and for some reason, I knew he was who I was going to marry, he didn’t even acknowledge me – fate bumped us into each other when I was a junior, then he noticed me but he went away to college, I wrote letters and sent things to him and when he came back at summer break he came looking for me, we started dating got engaged, broke up, got engaged and then married – lots of fun details in there, this is the short version.
MARRIED FOR 50+ YEARS
My grandparents were married for 70 years. My Granddad passed away this past year. I didn’t want to reach out to my grandma because she’s still hurting but here are some of the things I learned from them.
- Always hold each other’s hand when things get tough or when your spouse is scared. This is a super tangible way to show your spouse that you’re there for them. I always saw my grandparents do this and it really impacted me.
- Love takes hard work and you have to be willing to choose the other person every. single. day.
- Eat as many meals together as you can. Those moments will be some of the most important.
- Do the small things. My granddad sent all of the grandkids, along with my grandma, a Valentine’s Day chocolate box every single year. He did it no matter the distance. He was great at small gestures and those small gestures matter.
- Go on adventures together and create memories that will last throughout the generations to come.