- God needs to be at the center: The focus should be centered on loving God above all things and growing in this love as a couple. My mom recently said to me, “Michael, if you love God how can anything be hard?” If the Lord is accompanying and blessing your marriage, it will bear fruit. I also recommend praying for each other, especially when you know your spouse is going through some hard times.
2. Marital intimacy
– This is way that most men connect and communicate with women…they need this validation. It should not be used as a weapon to punish your spouse (unless there is a really serious reason) or as a means of manipulation to obtain what you desire. It does not always have to be romantic and a big production, but it is a critical component for a healthy relationship.
– Men need to understand that for most women, this is an act of charity towards their husbands and they generally find more validation in emotional and conversational connection and affirmation. It is easier for a wife to meet his physical intimacy needs, if her emotional needs are also being met.
3. Date night/time together: It may be expensive to go out to a nice restaurant, a hassle to get dressed up, and difficult to have quality conversations, but in the long run this will be cheaper and less time consuming then paying for counseling or even divorce settlements! This shows that your marriage is a priority and gives the husband and the wife the necessary quality time to bond. It is so important to do fun and meaningful things together (Playing golf or tennis, cooking or gardening, going to the opera or museums, etc…). Guys also need time with the guys and gals need time with the gals!
4. Empathetic communication: Husbands need to learn to listen with sincere love, focused attention (cell phones aside) and warm empathy to their wives “as long as necessary.” Wives should respect their husband’s need for cave time, and try to avoid nagging and prodding when he is obviously not in a good mood. The words that you say and the tone with which you say those words matter!!
5. Love them in the way that they need to be loved, not in the way that you prefer to love. I recommend “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman as a great resource to discover your spouses love language (Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, physical touch).
6. Unity in parenting- to have each other’s backs and to avoid making one spouse the perennial “bad cop.” Kids needs to see that you are governing from a united front!
7. Respect and recognition- to value the effort and love that each spouse makes in both parenting and providing for the family. Don’t focus on the negative or what is missing, but affirm the positive and express it often. You can never say these words enough: “I love you” and “I am so grateful for who you are and what you do”!!
*Finally, so many happily married couples have recommended “holy amnesia” as a key component to marriage, so I composed this simple poem to drive this point home.
Holy amnesia is the key
For matrimony to succeed.
For all the snores, complaints and moans,
Excessive focus on the phone,
Harsh words coupled with hurtful tones,
Spending? Far too many bank loans!
Tooth paste tubes curled the wrong way,
Not listening to what “I say”,
Preparing the coffee “your way”,
Trifles, troubles, trials each day.
Focus on the positive! Please!
The virtues are what you should see!
Holy amnesia? Certainly!!
But, LOVE unconditionally!