Every action and reaction we share as husband and wife, every moment we experience in marriage, is a brushstroke of colorful paint smeared across the canvas of life. – Jennifer Smith
1. Always treat your partner with the utmost respect and love, the exact same way you would want to be treated by him or her. — Charla & David Bennett, married 21 years
2. Before we were even married, we had discussed expectations, roles, convictions, money-handling principles, and child rearing. The communication that initiated our relationship has marked our entire marriage. We continue to make time to have heart-to-heart talks and pray together. — Paul & Holly Brown, married 5 years
Don’t be surprised if after a few years of wonderful, quiet nights there is suddenly snoring in your bed. It may not be him…
3. Dr. Leslie Parrott says that until we are willing to do the hard work of becoming whole on our own, all our relationships will fall disappointingly flat. By allowing Christ to meet my emotional and spiritual needs, I have found inner peace and lasting joy that spills over into my marriage. Before I learned this nugget of wisdom, I wasted much energy on trying to get my husband to meet those needs, and you know what? It didn’t work! I have learned to be intentional about the care of my body, mind, and spirit and have found that when I am whole, then my marriage is a blessing and a witness to those who are able to see what God can do in a marriage. — Kolinda & Thomas Duer, married 27 years
4. The most important lessons I have learned are “choosing to constantly forgive” and “accepting my husband for who he is.” Let go of all expectations and idealism and create together what only the two of you can — a wonderful life story that no one can re-create. Pray for each other and appreciate your differences. Have plenty of adventurous morning, afternoon, or evening dates. Keep sexual intimacy interesting and spontaneous. — Bergeman & Guirlene Jean, married 7 years
5. Four important words: You may be right… — Beth & Kirk Pulley, married 5 years
6. Kiss each other. Pick your battles. Remain committed. Cherish each day God gives you. Dance with happy feet. Encourage each other. Lavish each other with goodness. Honor each other. Remind your spouse how important he or she is to you. Journey through your married life as players on the same team. Never use the D word! Pursue each other passionately. Be self-sacrificing. Tell the truth always! Be understanding. Keep your marriage vows. Watch your words. Examine your motives when placing expectations on the other. — Krystal & Bob Marusin, married 22 years
7. Prayer is the best way we have found to soften our hearts toward each other and to remain a unified team. We have set aside time once a week to get up early and pray. Often, when we begin, my heart is a bit hardened toward something or toward my husband. But by the end of prayer time, the Holy Spirit has entered and transformed that space. Not only does He take that hardness away, He draws us closer to each other. I am still surprised by it, though it happens without fail. — Krista & Erik Gilbert, married 19 years
8. Decide early on that it is okay to disagree. When you discuss things, you will disagree, and that’s okay. What’s most important is that you remember how much you love each other, regardless of what you’re discussing or disagreeing about. — Richard & Stela Heuschkel, married 18 years
9. I think it’s vital to choose the most important qualities (kindness, humor, a love of art/music) and then focus on those qualities when the other person seems like an alien creature (my unwillingness to drive freeways in the rain, his reluctance to throw away that unusable sliver of soap). Marriage is not about weird habits, food, sex, money, or which side we take regarding the death penalty. My husband is my biggest fan, and I’m his. We show true interest in each other’s lives. He is the person I’m most loyal to and the person I want to see first in the morning and last thing at night. His hand is the warmest and safest, and the only one I want to hold. — Rusty & Tony Harris, married 22 years.
10. We are all imperfect, so when you fight, fight productively. Don’t let drama into a difficult discussion. Stick with what has really upset you, and think before you speak. Remember that the enemy’s goal is to cause separation: don’t let him in! God gave you your spouse to love no matter what. You can work through anything — yes, anything! — Eric & Jill Slusher, married 10 years
Excerpted with permission from 101 Secrets to a Happy Marriage, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2015.
* * *
What are your secrets for a happy marriage? Do any of these spark your inspiration to talk about and put into practice with your husband? Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear your comments on building a happy marriage!