Your marriage vows were the beginning of something wonderful. Amidst busy wedding plans and blissful emotions, when you said, “for better or for worse,” you meant it. Even when you have a strong marriage, you’ll encounter bumps in the road as you work out the finer points of life together.
Happy couples in lasting marriages don’t always see eye to eye about everything—from where to live to what’s for dinner. Habits like chronic lateness, not finishing chores, or forgetting important dates can add to marital stress. Stress is part of marriage and life. It’s how you handle it that matters.
Christ’s love is the standard for a good and healthy marriage
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Successful marriages reflect the love God has for His children. They’re not built by expecting someone to magically fulfill all our needs. True love stems from a servant’s heart. Happy couples share their gifts and offer selfless, sacrificial love to others.
To grow closer to each other, strive to grow in holiness. Daily prayer, healthy habits and positive Christian virtues are hallmarks of strong marriages. Happy couples stay close to each other and close to God – through good times and bad. It’s not easy, but following these marriage fundamentals will help.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV)
Signs of a good marriage and ways to make your marriage stronger
Certain relationship basics help support lasting marriages. Here are a few tips for a healthy marriage:
- Start with yourself first. When differences and disagreements persist, you may obsess over changing your spouse. Remember, every marriage consists of two flawed humans. It takes courage to assess your own weaknesses first. If there’s an uncomfortable grain of truth in your spouse’s complaints, changing your habits can help break the ice.
- Pray together. Whether you’re feeling happy and joyful or angry and resentful, pray – alone and together – routinely. Keep God at the helm of your life and your marriage. His guidance and love will be with you at every turn.
- Communicate often, clearly, and respectfully. Personalities, preferences, and styles vary and need change. Whatever it is, speak up – respectfully – even if it makes you uncomfortable. Clearing the air helps you find a way forward.
- Forgive easily and often. When you feel hurt, slighted, or angry, talk it out before resentment can build. Was it a deliberately harmful pattern or an atypical slip-up? If it’s a small annoyance, let it go. If it’s something bigger, try to learn more, calmly state your concern and listen closely. Avoid drama, finger-pointing, or accusation. Keep an open mind, resolve to improve, apologize sincerely, and communicate honestly to ease tension and build trust.
- Look on the bright side. Focus on what’s right with your spouse. Remember why you got married. Always encourage respect, and support your spouse, publicly and privately. Choose constructive solutions rather than gossip or chronic complaining, criticism, and nitpicking. If you keep “showing up” with a positive attitude, the little things will fade in significance.
- Remember, it’s not always personal. Everyone has bad days, vulnerable spots, and times when words are carelessly spoken, and frustrations are vented. Give your spouse space to unwind and a chance to express frustrations – about work, traffic or disappointments – without being personally offended by emotions. Listen and learn what matters to your spouse. Offer help or a shoulder to lean on during stressful times.
- Stay active in a Christian community. Friends, neighbors and faith-based support networks can renew your faith, lift your spirits, offer prayers and help, and provide a sense of belonging.
- Enjoy each other and have fun! Prioritize just spending time together, and shake things up once in a while. Plan date nights, take a class, try new or favorite things you both enjoy. Share inside jokes. Watch comedies. Laughter relieves stress and strengthens bonds.
- Be patient. Building strong marriages takes time as you get to know each other. If one approach doesn’t work, talk with your spouse about another. Really listen and try to understand why it matters. Despite setbacks, if you’re both giving it your best, God sees your heart and will bless your dedication.
When marriage stress gets out of hand, ask for help
Chronic or escalating conflict may require compassionate and objective Christian marriage counseling. Don’t bury unresolved resentments or try to “white-knuckle it.” A professional counselor can offer personalized support, guidance, and tools.
If you’re in an abusive relationship or have serious problems – such as addiction or affairs – it’s especially important to seek professional help right away.
Living happily and healthily ever after
Marriage isn’t all about castles, ballrooms, heroism, and rose gardens. Practicing ordinary, day-to-day healthy habits and positive Christian virtues helps you to grow in holiness while strengthening your marriage. It’s a real-life way to live out a realistic “happily ever after” marriage.
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