In marriage, drift can so easily happen and so we’ve come up with three ways to help keep our marriage strong and to get us back on track when it does. Of course, even 32 years in, we still have our share of difficulties! We’ve learned that in marriage relationships we will likely always have conflict and even some that will never get resolved, but the important thing is that we can manage it with these three things;

  • Stay Interested
  • Be Intentional
  • Get Help

Before you begin to think I live in an unrealistic dream world, let me tell you, I did marry way above my “pay grade”. June is an amazing woman with the added blessing that she forgets easily. This has come in handy many times.

“June, about yesterday…”

“What about yesterday?”

“Oh, nevermind!” Whew! Saved again.

Stay Interested

Early in our marriage we discovered just how different we are. One example is in how we celebrate birthdays. My last party as a kid was when I was 10. Mom announced that I should enjoy it because it would be the last one! I thought this was normal until I met June. You see, June believes that her birthday month, in its entirety, is her month. (June if you are reading this, it is your month) Needless to say, I missed that incredibly important detail the first year of our marriage. Fortunately, June can’t remember how bad I messed up so I won’t recount it here.

How did I stay interested to keep our marriage strong? My mentor shared this wise challenge with me,


Spend more time being interested than trying to be interesting.


Be Intentional

The birthday mishap and a number of other blunders on my part sent us looking for ways to be intentional about keeping our marriage strong. The Five Love Languages is a book that provides much help in this. Through it, I was able to learn that June really likes Acts of Service. I realize this means different things to different people, so I have to be intentional enough to learn what this means to my wife.

One thing I’ve discovered is that June loves it when she comes home and sees me at the sink doing dishes. Now, for the intentional part. When I hear her come home and start up the stairs, I rush to the sink, take clean plates out of the cupboard, and call out, “Hey, I’m just up here in the kitchen washing some dishes!” Works everytime! Except now if she reads this it could really put a damper on my cleverly planned “foreplay”.

 

Get Help

We all need help in our marriages! June and I seek it by pursuing input from books, mentors, articles and marriage events. I remember being tricked into going to our first Weekend Getaway with two other couples.

“Steve and Bryan both said yes to going,” was the line I heard.  

Of course, not wanting to lose face to my friends I gave a reluctant yes. It wasn’t until money had been paid and hotel confirmed that I learned I had been duped. The other husbands had heard the same line with only the names changed!

However, that weekend was one of the smartest decisions we could have made. It helped us to connect, discover more about each other and be more intentional. It was a goldmine of help!

Since then we continue to work on keeping our marriage strong by attending marriage events, reading great books like, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn and by accessing many mentors. We did this by discovering people that we wanted to be like, watching them and asking questions. Today there are great resources that can help with the journey of mentoring.

For us, the most important help comes from our spiritual connection with God. This is where we are constantly drawing help from. We always pray together, serve together and celebrate holidays, like Easter, that include a focus on God. A few verses that stick with us are, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Romans 12:9 and “take an interest in others” Philippians 2:4b. We love the verse that says that when we allow God to guide and lead our lives great results come to fruition and our marriage experiences, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22.


Stay interested, be intentional and get help.


What YOU Can Do

Small actions done regularly have a huge impact. They have for us and they will for you, too!  Choose one of these three things to focus on in your marriage and SHARE this article so that others can benefit too!

Written by Neal Black

Neal Black

Neal works at Power to Change developing leaders. His passion is to challenge people to listen to God and develop their giftedness as they follow where Jesus leads. Neal and June speak at One Day events for FamilyLife. They love to communicate God’s game-plan for relationships with humour, energy and lots of stories!