38 Ways To Build A Marriage

Last week, my husband and I celebrated eleven years of marriage.

It simultaneously feels like yesterday and a whole lifetime ago that two barely-adults promised their unknown futures to one another with a marriage. In that span, it’s felt like I’ve learned both a lifetime’s worth of lessons and still have so much to learn.

I am not perfect. And neither is my marriage. But we have been so richly blessed by the wisdom others have sown into our marriage. We’ve listened to the advice of those who have gone before us and have been able to avoid many pitfalls. So. I am going to share the pieces of wisdom I can gather from 11 years of marriage. I haven’t arrived yet. But maybe I can help those trekking behind me.

Before You Wed (On Expectations):

1. You aren’t marrying yourself. No, really. Your spouse is not a male version of you. He doesn’t think like you, respond to difficulty like you, or likely put shoes in the right spot like you.

2. Pre-marital counseling might just be the very best thing you do for your marriage. (I am sure there are many great options out there, but here’s one workbook I can recommend: Preparing for Marriage)

3. Identify as many expectations as you and your future husband have before you get married. All the things: from whether Lucky Charms is a legitimate breakfast choice to where you spend holidays to who scrubs the toilet to how you raise your kids.

4. Neither one of you will meet the other’s expectations of what being married is like. How you handle this will determine what your newly-wedded beginning will be like.

5. And on that note: expectations can kill relationships.

On Communication:

6. It’s not that you shouldn’t have expectations; it’s that you should get in the practice of clearly communicating them and readily adjusting them.

7. Find out his love language. Learn to speak it.

8. Find out your love language. Learn to help him speak it.

9. Listen for all the ways he communicates his love for you. Love isn’t always expressed in thoughtful declarations, flowers or expensive gifts. Sometimes it’s spoken in long work hours, emptied trash cans, and in Target lines holding a box of tampons.

10. Don’t ask or expect him to read your mind. It might seem infinitely easier than learning to express your own mind and desires (that maybe you don’t even know yourself), but it’s just not a reasonable request. He can’t do it.

11. You will grow in different ways, at different times. You will rarely be on the same page.

12. Communication might be less about “getting on the same page” and more about “reading the page” the other one is on.

On Sex:

13. Savor your days as newlyweds. Savor the new love, your younger bodies, the clumsy love-making, and the empty spaces of your home. Don’t be in such a rush to the next phase that you miss the opportunity of this one.

14. Make love often. Unless there is some kind of legitimate medical reason to abstain, set a bare minimum while you are young and everything is new, and do not ever let yourselves go longer than that minimum. I have no idea if this, ahem, gets adjusted in old age, but I know (KNOW) the busy years with small children and headaches and a million things to do is NOT that time. This is the number one way you stay on the offensive against Satan who seeks to divide you.

15. I’m saying it again because it’s important: Love-making is for procreation. It’s for pleasure. And it’s also where you fight FOR your marriage.

16. Your marriage bed is sacred and the one place God has set apart as holy to be wholly naked. Protect one another by keeping it sacred (and not telling your friends all the things.)

17. Sacred space is important for every relationship. The giant redwood tree can be slowly killed by tourists who trample the roots when they get up close to the tree. So it is with marriage. Have inside jokes that no one is in on. Keep your favorite part of your lover’s body as a secret for the two of you. And for the love, don’t share every moment on social media. Keep some memories just for yourselves.

18. Spend less time critiquing your body, and more time attempting to see it as your husband sees it. If he tells you that you are sexy, believe him.

On Conflict in marriage:

19. Compromise is rarely equal. It doesn’t often look like a melding of two opinions. It’s learning when to fight, when to let go, and how to trust even when you don’t agree.

20. Know this: God’s faithfulness to your family doesn’t depend on you having your way–even if you are certain you are right.

21. The first time you get so hurt you aren’t sure how to forgive, that is when you make the call for counseling.

Amanda Conquers
Amanda Conquershttp://www.amandaconquers.com/
Amanda Conquers is a cop's wife, mom to 3 kids, and a cheerleader for weary women. Most days, she wants to hide in her closet with her secret stash of chocolate because she feels like she's not quite enough. But Amanda lives holding on to the hope that in spite of all her failings, God grace is sufficient for her and she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can find her writing her broken stories on her blog, instagram and facebook.

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