Brandon · Marriage

12 Tips to Keep your Marriage Strong

On Sunday Brandon and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage. I don’t know what I was thinking when I married a farmer in August. The truth is, he is hardly home this time of year because he is holding down two jobs right now and busy. His mind is on different things, he comes home at 9:30 or 10 and goes to bed, gets up at 4:30 and does it all over again. He gets home and he is dirty, tired, and he has put in a long, exhausting day of working two jobs. But, when he gets home and hugs me and talks to the kids while he is eating dinner and listens (really listens to their day) I can’t help but think about how much I love him and appreciate all that he sacrifices to provide for our family. I know that we are where he would like to be. While it can be hard to maintain a home while he is gone for work, and sometimes we feel more like two ships passing in the night, and we haven’t had a date night in a couple of months, I know thatΒ  I love this man and can’t wait for the light at the end of this tunnel to get here.

The reality is, after 12 years of marriage we have been through up’s and down’s. We have seen each other at our worst, but also at our best. We have been through the hardest days and the best days together and there is no one else I would want by my side. At the end of the day, we entered into this partnership, for better or for worse and vowed to stick together. I am no where near a marriage or relationship expert, and this is what works for us. Here are 12 ways we keep our spark alive, and maybe one of these tidbits might work in your marriage too.

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  1. Make time for each other. Getting a date night in can be tough. Really tough. Going to the movies and hiring a sitter is expensive. We make time for each other every day. We put the kids to bed early and we watch a TV show together or play a quick card game for a bit. We put our phones away for the night and we just spend time together.
  2. Keep some traditions. After our first year of marriage we were POOR. I was going to college full-time, working very part time, and Brandon was the one working full-time. We were in our early 20’s and wanted to do something special for our Anniversary. Since we had little money we went out for breakfast…at McDonalds, and let me tell you, I will never forget it. I felt like I was eating a 5 star meal. We don’t get each other presents for our Anniversary, but we ALWAYS go out for breakfast. The restaurant might have changed over the years but that love and sentiment is still there. This is our thing, our tradition.
  3. Learn each other’s love languages. Brandon’s love language is quality time and acts of service. Mine is gifts/gifting and acts of service. Knowing this about each other, we work hard to show each other love.
  4. Speak kindly of one another. I want everyone to know how much I love Brandon, and I want them to know that he is the best husband, father, friend, and worker. I don’t need them to know my complaints. If we disagree with each other we do it in private.
  5. Talk it out. Disagreements happen. You are two unique individuals with your own experiences and feelings so arguments are going to happen. Brandon’s grandma gave us the best advice and that was to never go to bed angry. We have stayed up until 2 AM before talking things out but we always talk it out. Always.
  6. Put God first. I pray for my husband each day and I know he prays for me. We also pray together.
  7. Put your relationship second. God first, relationship second.
  8. Kids third. Brandon and I make it a priority to show our kids that we are in love and how you treat someone you love.
  9. Be friends. We love hanging out with each other. Seriously, I love hanging out with my husband. We go golfing together, fishing, go for drives together, and just really enjoy spending time together doing things we both love.
  10. Have a life outside of each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We both have friends that we spend time with outside of our marriage. We are not co-dependent on each other. It is healthy to have friends outside of your marriage. Which leads me to my next point…
  11. TRUST. Trust is the foundation in which we built our marriage. It is EVERYTHING to both of us. It makes us both feel safe and secure. We talk things out and have open communication about everything and trust each other completely. This is such an important foundation that we have built on since we were dating.
  12. Honor each other. Honor your vows, put your partner’s needs before yours, tell them you love them every chance you get, show them you love them every chance you can (actions speak louder than words). Apologize often, be the bigger person (because fights happen), show grace, show understanding, don’t speak in absolutes (you always/you never). Love each other, and love each other well.

In a world of social media, marriages are made to look like a walk in the park. It is the age of the highlight reel. Marriage isn’t a Hallmark movie or a Romantic Comedy. Marriage is real and raw and sometimes you just want to throw in the towel. Knowing that we are both in this forever makes us fight even harder to make it work and be the best that we can be together.

Wherever you are at in a relationship or marriage, I encourage you to bring out the best in the other person. Show them love and kindness. Show them encouragement and praise, as well as grace. Pray together, work together, and most of all honor each other.

Thank you for reading today. I would love to know what other tips you would add to this list? What was the best piece of relationship advice you received?

-Jenna

31 thoughts on “12 Tips to Keep your Marriage Strong

    1. Communication is so important. Usually when we are in a “down” it’s because communication is not happening. The breakfast tradition is my favorite part! πŸ™‚ It reminds me of where we started, where we have gone, but also it’s just fun πŸ™‚

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  1. Oh Jenna! I absolutely love this post and how raw and real it is. You are so right. Marriages aren’t perfect, and it takes two to make them work. We are kind of in the same boat, when you said “we’re like two passing ships in the night.” That rang completely true to me. I get frustrated with Brian’s work schedule and how few date nights we get, but when we do have date nights I think they are even more special because they don’t happen all that often.
    I love every point you made here.
    And Happy Anniversary to you and Brandon!

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    1. Isn’t that so true about really appreciating a date when we do get to have one. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I think that can be one of the hardest parts. Thanks for your kind words! I am so glad you can relate!

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  2. Oh my goodness friend, you are going to laugh. I pretty much have the same exact post already written up and scheduled for tomorrow, only we are celebrating 10 years instead. SO funny. I just didn’t want you to think I stole your idea one day later :P. Great advice and Happy Anniversary. If we were closer, we’d have to celebrate together!

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    1. LOL! That is too funny about your post tomorrow and mine today! πŸ™‚ I would never think that you stole an idea and I certainly would not be upset. I love that they are so close together (our anniversaries that is). I can’t wait to read your post tomorrow!

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  3. AMEN! I remember when I got married a Godly older woman told me, at year 10 you will be more in love and more thankful for your husband then you are now. He will know you better and you will know him better. That stuck with me and it’s so true, through all the ups and downs, I feel stuck tighter to him. I always see when my relationship with God is in a good spot, all my other relationships are in a better spot too! Love your sweet wisdom and that you keep traditions like breakfast out. Happy Anniversary! xoxo ERIN

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    1. How true is that?!?! I seriously feel this way. I feel like we are better together and much closer to him than ever before. Also, usually when I start throwing a pity party or temper tantrum, God is the first one I turn to because I am missing something! Thank you so much for the great wisdom Erin!

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  4. Best advice that changed me in my relationship…put your partner first! It’s not about you, it’s about them. If you focus on what you’re not getting or what your partner is not giving you them you are focused on yourself. You must focus on loving your spouse unconditionally and meeting their needs. ❀️

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    1. I LOVE this! So many times when I am feeling a little down about where Brandon and I are, or feeling like I am not getting what I need it’s because I am not putting him first and making it all about me. Shifting the focus ALWAYS makes a huge difference! I love this advice!

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      1. It’s a great reminder!! I think when we get too focused on ourselves we lose sight of what really matters. You should YouTube some Tony Robbins relationship material. He talks about the differences between men and women and our different needs. SO interesting! When I focus on things Nathan is not doing it’s like “duh he’s not a woman!!”

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      2. My favorite Tony Robbins men/women conversation was when he pointed out that men do not need or really care about all of the details while women need them. SOOOOO true!

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  5. Happy early anniversary! I love all your advice. Marriage is hard, and in this day and time couples give up way to soon, it’s sad really. You have to fight for the good stuff, nothing good is ever easy, but so worth it!

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    1. You are so right Susan, you do have to fight for it! And keep fighting for it even when you don’t want to sometimes. Hahaha!

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  6. Happy Anniversary! I love this list, and I think #4 is especially important. I hear so many ladies bashing their husbands, and I really try to avoid it. Another thing that has helped me is realizing that I don’t ALWAYS have to be right. Still working on that one!

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    1. Tanya I agree! I think it is so important to notice the good and speak praises. I believe a person receives what they notice so I try to focus on the positive. I have struggled with not always having to be right. I am also guilty of getting really defensive when I am called out, which is something I am constantly working on.

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  7. My husband was married once before. It ended badly but I often think that because we both had big relationships before us (he was married, I was engaged – we aren’t the reason those relationships didn’t last… just so you know) we came into our relationship with more respect for each other and being in a relationship. We’ve been together 10 years next April and for the first time ever, I can honestly say I’m in a healthy relationship with someone who values me, us and our family 100+%.

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    1. Stephanie that is SO good to hear about your relationship and where you are. I can only imagine how both of your past relationships helped build a strong foundation for your marriage. It is always amazing how God plants you in the right spot. I know that I needed Brandon in my life at that specific time and God had his hands in it. I am so glad that you are in a healthy, happy relationship now!

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  8. What a great post! All of these tips are really great. I bought The Five Love Languages and I have yet to read it, but i’m interested in finding out what B’s language is and what mine is. I think I could take a pretty good guess, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that theirs did not end up being the one that they thought it would be! Happy anniversary to you and your hubs! Congratulations on twelve years… that is a big deal!!

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    1. Thank you Lindsay. I was shocked at my love language…I would have thought it would have been quality time. I really think you will like that book. It was so eye opening and really helps in times of trouble, but also helps bring out the best in each other. I also use the information I learned from this book across all relationships in my life. It is so helpful for so many reasons!

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  9. OH I love all of these tips. You and I got married the same year, you’re just 4 months after us πŸ™‚ I agree with each and every one of these. When we went on our engaged encounter, the host couple said that each night they pray for each other out loud, took a small moment out of their day to say a small prayer. Since we got married we have done that every single night for each other for 12 years, and we have also done this for our kids and they do it for each other. Now the kids can’t go to sleep with out blessings and prayers from each other. I’m sharing this on my blog tomorrow for Friday Favorites. I just love all of it.

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    1. I LOVE the idea of praying out loud for each other at the end of the day. What a great way to affirm your faith as a couple, but also lift your spouse up in prayer. I love that you have done this daily for 12 years and are now doing this for your kids. Thank you so much!

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  10. Love this so much Jenna and I couldn’t agree more with every one of your tips. I just love your story about the breakfast at McDonalds. Going through the tough times definitely makes the heart grow fonder. It is amazing to me when we have struggles and come through on the other side how much it has made our marriage that much more special. Hope you guys have an amazing breakfast on Sunday!

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    1. Thank you so much! Going through the tough spots really does make a relationship stronger. It also makes the good times that much sweeter. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  11. Beautiful post.
    I think your point of kids coming third is so so crucial to a good relationship. Children are so needy and require the most immediate and urgent attention, but it should never result in your partner being treated as less important. This is obviously easier said than done but it’s beneficial not only for your partner to feel number one, but also for the children to see how to treat and respect the other parent too.
    Wishing you many more happy years together.

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