How to Have Strong Marriage When You Didn’t See One Growing Up

BY: - 24 Jan '13 | Marriage

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I’ve been married for over four years. In that time we’ve had our ups and downs (mostly ups), and we are learning what it truly means to stand by someone’s side through it all. When we said “I do” we took it very seriously, and we have every intention of making this thing work.

But, what happens when things get rough? How do we manage the “downs” when neither of us witnessed a strong, long-lasting marriage growing up?  My husband’s father passed away when he was just seven.  My father, although alive during my entire childhood, was not an active part of my life at all. All things considered, both of our mothers did a phenomenal job raising us. We now see that raising kids with a spouse is no easy feat. I can barely wrap my brain around how our mothers did it all without the added, constant support of a life partner. To put it mildly, they were amazing.

Yet, we know that how we interact with others, in large part, is a result of what we saw growing up. Did we see our parents love each other? Did we watch them disagree respectfully and peacefully? Did we see, firsthand, what makes a marriage strong?

How do we both figure out how to make this marriage thing work when the entire experience is very new for us? How do we figure out how to strengthen our union when it’s not something we saw firsthand during our childhood? We certainly saw, and received, plenty of love. But, we didn’t see how two people successfully manage the complexities of a marriage.

These tips reflect a few things we’ve learned along the way, and have served our marriage well. I hope they can help you make the most out of yours whether you witnessed a great marriage during your childhood or not.

Don’t Seek Marital Advice From Unmarried Friends

This is absolutely not an attack on single friends.  I still turn to my single friends for advice about almost every area of my life.  However, we do not turn to them for marital advice.  For that, we call our married friends.  It just makes sense to seek advice from people who can relate to your experience because they’ve been there.

Tell Yourselves That Divorce Is Not An Option

If it’s an option there is a much stronger chance that you will both consider it when things get rough (and I mean really rough).  Just take it off of the table as an option.  Unless you are in a situation where a form of abuse is involved, getting a divorce should not be the answer to a rough patch.

Remember Why You Got Married

Getting married is a major decision that I’m sure wasn’t made lightly.  Think about why you got married and remind yourself of it daily.  Is your mate loyal?  Do they believe in you when you don’t even believe in yourself?  Are they an amazing parent?  Focus on why you decided to say those vows in the first place.

Nourish Your Friendship

There is surely something to be said for marrying your best friend.  Laugh together, bounce ideas off of each other, share dreams, create goals – do all of the things that will make your friendship stronger and more meaningful.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Trying to have a successful marriage is difficult to achieve if you think every battle is worth fighting.  Learn to laugh at yourselves, and choose your battles carefully.  Some things just aren’t worth it. Save your energy for the things that are.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but even the very best things in life come with challenges.  Meet those challenges head on and give your marriage a fighting chance, even if you have to learn how to do it one step at a time.


BMWK family — What did you learn about marriage during your childhood?


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  • melvin

    Hi hope i will be getting those updates via facebook inbox n not yahoo inbox coz normally active in facebook.
    See i am almost 30 yrs and from a broken home,but my mum raised us up (4 of us) single handedly although thro the grace of the living GOD i believe i have pull thro, i am determined to marry one day even though i did not have a father figure while i was growing up.
    To me marriage is a lifetime commitment and a covenant btw God,one man and one woman,and divorce is not an option (malachi 2:16)
    I love reading the articles that you write,and send them to me via fb inbox. Be blessed

  • Jacqueline

    So glad someone touched on this…coming from nothing but dysfunction I was fearful about marriage for that reason I didn’t know if I had what it took but we both agreed that divorce wouldn’t be an option. We’ve been together since I was thirteen and I’m in my thirties now so we know how to push each others buttons and when those bad times came we remembered what we said about divorce and sought counseling where we discovered we don’t know how to communicate effectively to one another. I’m thankful for counseling and BMWK because it has given me so much knowledge to be a better wife. We still have things to improve upon but we are working together to improve because we both want and deserve a sweet/happy marriage.

  • Ty

    My wife and I have been married going on (14) years. I really like what this article had to say. A lot of the suggestions are practiced in our marriage. Also, just want to add that when you look at marriage from a spiritual point of view and what God’s intention for the institution, it puts a lot of things in perspective. Whenever my wife and I get into a disagreement, I silently begin to pray to God. Soon the boisterous disagreement subsides and the still small voice begins to speak. God then begins to show me how to minister to my wife. This takes great humility and I have to admit I am not always there. He reminds me that I am the covering for her and she is my helpmete. We were charged at our wedding by the Preacher to out-serve one another and we have tried our best to do that. I charge all to look at God’s intention for marriage prior to entering into it. Be honest if you are not there and ask Him to prepare you.

    • Anonymous

      What a beautiful comment Ty, your wife is so blessed to have a husband who really gets it. I pray that I can have a husband one day like that who really understands what marriage is all about and God’s intentions for marriage. I think that when we view marriage in that way it can make such a difference. Like so many others I too grew up without my father and had a mother who unfortunately wasn’t the most affectionate, so receiving and giving love hasn’t been easy for me. I pray to God daily to help me in this area and to heal my heart so if he intends to bless me with a husband one day, I will be whole and ready to give 100% towards marriage.

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