Do you remember when you were dating and you would talk on the phone for hours? You went through that cute “No, YOU hang up…No,YOU hang up…No, YOU hang up” phase. You couldn’t keep your eyes nor your hands off of each other and your address was cloud 9?
Then, there was the phase two where you started learning more about each other. You revealed your strengths and saw each other’s weaknesses. And still, nothing could stop the two of you from committing your lives to one another and saying: “I do!” It was you two against the world.
Then, here comes the the third phase. You’re both committed to each other and love each other dearly. You’re successful in your careers and you’re raising a beautiful family together and living the American Dream! So, why does this phase cause so many issues for so many people, when this is the reason you got married in the first place?
All of the aforementioned accomplishments are wonderful. But, truth be told, not all committed, stable marriages consider themselves HAPPY marriages. Thus, the high divorce rate in the U.S. But why? Don’t we all start off at phase one? What happens to us by the time we get to phase three? This phase requires work – work that many of us may or may not be willing to put into our marriages.
As I continue to grown in my own marriage, gain pearls of wisdom from friends/family who seem to “get it right”, and research information written by relationship experts, I have learned the following about the not-so-easy-all-the-time third phase of love and marriage:
1. When you find yourself struggling in your marriage, its time to make it a priority. When you’re sick, its your body’s way of telling that you that something is wrong. You generally take time to rest, take medicine and even go see a doctor. Well, treat your marriage the same way: Assess. Diagnose. Treat. Heal. Repeat as necessary.
2. Find out (or refresh your memory) what’s important to your spouse and what makes them happy. For example: If you know that your spouse has a favorite meal….cook it! If you know that your spouse likes to see you in his/her favorite outfit…wear it! Take a minute, go back down memory lane, and remember what brought smiles to your spouse’s face in the beginning (rewind to phase one).
3. Date Nights are an unassumingly powerful “must-do” in any marriage. When I get in the car with my husband and I realize that I don’t have car seats to fasten or be forced to listen to “clean” music, I get my swag and my “grown and sexy” back. I don’t know about you but, its a good feeling to date your spouse. There are no pretenses. Its good fun and you already know you’ll end up in bed together at the end of the night.
4. Pray. Marriage takes THREE. You, your spouse and God. Hopefully, before you tied the knot, this was a focal point for both of you, whether it was pre-marital counseling or a commitment that you both shared acknowledging God and His presence in your marriage. When you think about it, there’s really no other way around it. Go to God when you struggle, acknowledge your issues (and faults, sins, etc) and have the conversations of desires of your heart and ask Him to help you and your marriage succeed.
5. Accept responsibility and accountability. Let’s face it. The happiness in this phase of enduring love has to be created by you; its not magically made all on its own. If you want happiness in your marriage, you sometimes have to come to grips with the fact that with busy lives and crazy schedules, you have to put in a little time and work for happiness. How? By starting with your self first. Become a more loving and healthy partner. Work on being sincerely nice, even when its hard. A love that satisfies the both of you and an intimacy that is spiritual and emotional, as well as physical, should be the goal.
And here are a few other things -
6. If you’re in a slump (and we all get there at some point), make a habit of kissing, hugging and laughing with each other daily.
7. Every dispute or disagreement does not have to be a huge deal nor does it have to be public knowledge.
8. If you want to talk to a trusted friend – Fine. Just make sure they are pro-marriage and positive beings.
9. The enemy always tries to seek, kill and destroy things that reflect and created to glorify God. So, always know that you need to cover your marriage and protect it at all times.
10. Finally, remember that marriage is not a competition. Working together to put each other first means you’re both WINNING!
BMWK – What work are you putting in to keep your marriage strong in ”phase three” ? What marriage lessons or words of wisdom have you gained over the years? Please share.