My grandmother called me during my first year of marriage and frankly told me,
At first, I thought “5 years is a long time.” But with time, I realized that she was so right. Evan and I get a lot of things wrong. Like a lot. I’m still learning how to...well that’s another blog post. However, here are 5 practical things that we do consistently that work for us. They may not work for you and your spouse, and these could very well change for us as the years go on. But for right now, these 5 habits are our current game changers.
1. Say 1 prayer in the AM together.
This is not anything fancy nor time-consuming. Evan and I just make sure to always say 1 prayer together in the morning. When I was working at a school, Evan would call me while I was in transit to work and we would pray. Currently, we pray together right when we first wake up. Our prayer typically begins in gratitude to God for the day, and then we take turns praying for one another for 1 shared prayer request. By doing this, we help each other recognize when the Lord has answered a prayer request in one of each other’s lives; we feel connected spiritually by knowing that we aren’t alone in praying for particular things; and we also get a chance to confess anything that we need to confess to one another before praying. Literally, this takes 3-5 minutes. Simply put, this is just a good habit to incorporate in the fabric of your marriage. Evan and I choose to pray in the morning because we tend to get the day started around the same time, whereas we go to bed at entirely different times.
2. Practice adopting a lifestyle to 1 income
So on that day that my grandmother called, she also suggested that we live off 1 income and ultimately save the other. She and my grandfather lived by this principle, and I’m so happy she recommended it to me. If you are newly married, before choosing a lifestyle that forces you two to live off of 2 incomes, practice living off of 1 income and saving the other. In our case, this worked out in my transition to working in the home full-time after our baby boy was born. It also allowed us to save money quickly.
3. Never attack identity in an argument
So when Evan and I argue, there’s one card we’re not allowed ever to pull out, and that comes to attacking identity. We can say “at this moment you are acting ____,” but we don’t say, “You are crazy, irrational, a hypocrite, etc.” Do you see the subtle difference? The former implies that a behavior is temporary, albeit uncharacteristic. The latter conveys that in the fabric of your spouse’s DNA, he/she is something that can never be changed. You may think that this subtle difference is insignificant, but it really helps arguments to not escalate unnecessarily.
Shortly after our baby boy was born, Evan and I had the worse argument of our entire marriage at that point, and it was due to breaking this rule. When things escalated, we stopped and said, “We are doing what we said we would never do.” At that moment we prayed and checked ourselves and continued the conversation when we were more level-headed.
4. “Always” and “Never” are banned words when referring to an action that is negative about the other
This is something Evan and I both have to check each other on when we’re in an argument because it is so easy to present a false reality when stating “You always … You never….You are always…. etc.” The fact of the matter is that when you state something, you begin to believe it. And the truth is…more than likely your spouse doesn’t ALWAYS/NEVER do a particular thing.
5. Schedule a Weekly Business Meeting
We received this tip from an older couple at a marriage conference. Because communication plays such a huge role in the health of a marriage, Evan and I MUST SIT DOWN AND HAVE A WEEKLY MEETING about the week. We see the importance of this even more as life becomes busier as we get older. Life is unpredictable, so we just aim for our meeting to occur at some point every Sunday. Our meeting may spread out intermittently across 2-3 hours because baby woke up or we got hungry or so-and-so called. So don’t imagine us sitting at a table wholly organized and focused. We do what we can do, and still, reap benefits in trying. In this meeting, we go through 6 basic questions.
This isn’t a question but we begin by reading a chapter from Proverbs (usually corresponding to the date ex. if Sept 1, then we will read Proverbs 1.)
What is the status of our marriage from this past week?
This gives us a chance to talk about what we could further work on, and it gives us a chance to thank the Lord for progress! We implemented this question after I asked Evan one day, “How can I bring up something that I’d like for you to consider changing without approaching in you in a way that is coming across as nagging?” And he suggested that instead of coming to him every day with something new (which I was doing smh), I could wait until our Sunday meeting to gracefully discuss with him anything that was troubling me etc without pulling out a laundry list (cause ladies, you know we got that list). And vice versa.
What is the plan for the week?
Examples: What days are we working out? What do we want for groceries? Any events occurring during the week, in the evening, that we both need to be on 1 accord about? What are our plans for the upcoming weekend? In our case, what days will you be out of town?
What persons do we need to be praying for this week/ need to make sure we catch up with?
How did we spend our time this past week? Were we good stewards in getting certain items accomplished or did we waste certain evenings away?
Have we accomplished a goal from 1 vision that the Lord has given us?
What are some good habits that you and your spouse implement in order to maintain a healthy relationship? Please post in the comments below! I really wanna know.