I’m going to be totally honest with you: sometimes, I am annoyed when folks say they want a marriage like mine and Don’s. What they don’t know is that we experienced many ups and downs in our marriage. The ‘downs’ seemed to last forever. We’ve experienced the difficulties of blending a family, numerous periods of unemployment, a child going to jail, alcoholism and an emotional affair with someone other than each other, just to name a few. It has not been pretty.
I am thankful those days are behind us. We are very intentional now to work together to ensure our marriage is one based on love, mutual respect, service and of course, God.
During the rough times, I prayed for strategies to save my marriage. I know for a fact, that these helped us stay together. My prayer is that you find them to be useful. I believe they will have a positive impact on your marriage if you start right now.
If you are engaged, take notes, print this out and get to practicing these strategies. Trust me, I wish I knew these seven things before I got married.
I did not know that my marriage would literally have me praying like a nun. When I couldn’t call my girlfriends, I had to call on the Lord. The funny thing is that God brought a prayer partner into my life within my first three weeks of marriage. He knew I was going to need reinforcements. When you hit those rough patches, prayer will help you stay sane and calm. Most times, I prayed to keep from cursing Don out. I’m thankful I learned to dig deep and trust God to work on my marriage.
This is a biggie. If you cannot forgive and forget, you will not have a healthy marriage. You cannot allow your mama, your sisters or your girlfriends to influence your decision to not forgive your husband. They will have you divorced and lonely. Once, my husband cursed me out in front of my kids. At that moment, I told myself that when he went to bed, I was out the door. God showed me, during prayer that hurt people, hurt people. The minute I absorbed that truth, I began to love my husband through his hurt. I forgave him for his words. They no longer had the power to hurt me and I am glad to say it’s been years since he’s cursed.
Yes, ladies, we must listen. Even if he is redundant, listen to him. Even if you could care less about what he has to say, listen to him. If you don’t, there is some woman at his job, the gym and even church that will give him her undivided attention. That happened to us. My husband even blurted out one day, that they listen to him and that’s why he couldn’t share anything with me. He said this to hurt me. I dug deep and used it to grow me. I decided right there to listen to everything he said. He thanked me recently for just listening to him without judgment and without trying to fix him. And I am not saying that if you don’t listen to your spouse, then it’s an excuse for them to find someone else who will. But I am saying that you should take time to listen to your spouse and show that you genuinely care about what they are saying.
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I know this seems old school, however it works. At one point in our marriage, I could not have a civil conversation with my husband. I looked for a way to communicate my concerns and to share my heart with him without all the arguing. I would write letters and in the middle of the night, I would leave them on his steering wheel. This opened the door for healthy dialogue.
I suggested counseling numerous times. He refused just as many times. I told him that if he really loved me and the kids, he would at least go to hear what they had to say. The first few times we went to marriage counseling were a disaster. We argued more. (We went to 4 different people.) I asked him to go to sessions by himself. He told me I also needed to go to. We decided to get individual counseling and it was great. He was eager to share with me what he learned and so was I. We both were given tools by “our people” that made communication more effective. We still go about once a year to get a “tune up”.
Dating Each Other
After we mastered the above-mentioned strategies, we started dating again. We chose to go out without the kids. We chose to go to concerts, 70s parties, etc. We basically fell in love with going out with each other. Dating each other helped us to have fun. My husband got to see how cool I was. I got to dress up and look sexy for my man. At the end of the night, we were fired up and ready for action.
Intimacy and sex are so important to marriage. For years, I would tell my husband that he focused way too much on being intimate with me. It wasn’t until I heard the Rick James in concert and he sung, “Give It to Me Baby”, that the light bulb came on. The woman he was singing about was me. I decided to enjoy being intimate my husband. I recently shared that I wasted so many years not enjoying it. That was the dumbest thing I could have ever done. Now that we are in our 40s, I enjoy it more than I could have imagined. I now understand that I am my husband’s Sexual Healing.
My prayer is that these seven strategies help you save your marriage. It takes effort on your part. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Stay consistent and trust God.
BMWK – please share the strategies that you use to strengthen your marriage.