Marriage is my favorite. What’s better than having a sleepover with your best friend every night, doing life with another person, and being led in life and love by a person your heart is permanently woven with?
Now, I get it. Marriage isn’t always sunshine and daisies. In fact, sometimes it’s rainstorms and treacherous terrain. But the beautiful thing about marriage is that God created it in His image for His glory.
“It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
The thing about marriage is that men and women are vastly different. A pastor of mine put it this way: Men are like waffles. Everything fits into a box, or a category. Things don’t make sense outside of that box, and things don’t typically cross over into other boxes.
Women on the other hand are like a big plate of spaghetti. The noodles intertwine with one another, and lead down hundreds of different trains of thought, all of which cross paths and become connected to each other.
Marriage Advice: Complement (Not Complete) One Another
We think differently and we act differently because God designed woman from man. Not to compete, but to complement one another.
Marriage is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely one of the most rewarding blessings God has given us as His people. Like any good and perfect gift from above, marriage takes stewardship and steadfastness to truly succeed.
Here are 5 pieces of marriage advice guaranteed to transform your marriage.
1. Intentionality is Everything
You may have heard of Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages.” The ingenious book and quiz takes couples through five different ways in which people FEEL the most loved: Quality time, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gifts.
Every person on earth has the desire to love and be loved. The thing is, that we often give love to others the way we need to be loved, rather than the unique ways they need to receive love.
Take my husband and I for example. I remember when we were dating, we went on a two week trip together. The first week was spent in Charleston with friends for a wedding. Then we headed from the east coast to the west coast for a church planting conference in Newport Beach, California. We spent the week in a beach house with 15 other church staff members and their spouses.
I remember as we boarded the plane to head home to Colorado, Neil looked at me and said, “I can’t wait to get home so we can have a date.” Admittedly, I was confused. I mean, I loved the life out of this man, and would never turn down an opportunity to spend time with him. But we had just been together for two weeks straight. What did he mean “we need a date?”
It turns out, my husband’s love language is quality time. After two weeks together, I thought we had spent plenty of quality time together, but that just wasn’t the case. You see, we had spent TIME together, but 95% of that time was spent with other people or sleeping. There was nothing intentional about it. Nothing to make Neil feel like I loved him and that he had my undivided, and adoring attention.
This realization really put things into perspective for me. Knowing what your spouse needs from you to feel truly loved by you takes intentionality. Intentionality in a marriage will go further than almost anything else. Know each other’s love styles, and be intentional with what you know.
2. Standing Date Nights
Listen, there’s a lot of opinion about this piece of marriage advice. But for my husband and I, this is something that truly works.
Think about this: My husband’s love language is quality time. A standing date night every Thursday ensures that even on our busiest weeks, we create an opportunity to be intentional with each other.
We put away the phones, go out to eat somewhere new, or play putt putt (Neil’s favorite). It can be the same, or it can be different every week, because truly, the date doesn’t matter. It’s the time and heart behind it that does.
I look forward to date night every week, whether or not I need the quality time to feel the most loved that week. It’s an intentional way for Neil and I to enjoy each other’s company, refocus on each other and our needs, and hold ourselves and our marriage accountable.
It also creates a space to have intentional conversation. So much of the week is spent discussing what’s for dinner, or how a lunch meeting went. Standing date night allows us to shift our hearts, talk honestly about what the Lord is doing in them, and dream big, scary God-sized dreams together about the future and what He has for us.
Those kinds of conversations are a MUST in marriage. But they’re not easily had without intentionality. Date your spouse, and put one thing on the calendar that you can actually look forward to every week.