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The Secret to a Successful Marriage
Day 1 - Jul 20, 2020
When asked to explain the secret of our marriage, I usually have a one-word answer: God. God is the secret of our healthy marriage. He is the secret of why we are together.
The greatest intimacy that we experience is the spiritual part of our relationship. That’s why we work hard to create spiritual intimacy in our marriage. Spiritual intimacy requires emotional intimacy, and that means both spouses need to be aware of and understanding of each other’s emotions.
Spend a moment asking the Lord to show you where you can invest into your spouse.
- It may be in service or it may be in words. Then, act on it today.
The challenge is to do this without expecting a return from them...that's sacrificial giving and that's being the love of God demonstrated to your spouse.
Let me tell you, it will be a powerful impact!
Day 2 - Jul 21, 2020
Do you know why couples fight? According to research, the top five subjects of fights between couples are stress from work, money, children, sex, and housework. All of these have one thing in common: The perception of one spouse not caring how the other spouse feels = blame, blow ups and hurt.
So, what can bring resolve in these heated moments? First of all, when tensions are rising and you begin to feel out of control, diffuse it by taking a deep breath, count to ten to yourself, walk in the next room and whisper a prayer for God to help you get your calm back then return so that you may "respond" rather than "react" to your spouse.
Ask yourself this...could it be that the recurring tension of these top five subjects is brought on by a root of fear?
Stop trying to win and start trying to connect. When there is something still unresolved with your spouse, think about what is topping your chart of not-so-easy topics to talk about. Set up a time to discuss it that’s at least 2 days away. Give time to prayerfully prepare your heart individually and start your discussion holding hands and praying together for God's guidance.
- This time is not a debate or a court hearing. It’s a loving dialogue which will require you to listen and learn.
- It's incredible what can happen when you both admit and submit to your need as a couple for God's presence as you "talk out" the matters of your heart.
Day 3 - Jul 22, 2020
Does this sound familiar?
One spouse can’t identify with how the other feels about the kids not being disciplined. One spouse isn’t empathetic when the other comes home needing to vent about work.
- Spouses need validation from each other.
- Emotions are not always right, but they are always real.
Whether the other spouse understands or not, a spouse sharing his or her emotions wants to be heard.
The highest priority isn’t about fixing the problem. It’s about being valued! Listen to hear the heart behind the situation and not for clues on how to solve the problem.
- Relax, refrain, and show patience on offering your possible solution until after your spouse has expressed their feelings about the situation.
Give full attention--no checking your phone or computer, it can wait! Giving your full attention to your spouse, validates them. If they are ready and ask you "what should I or we do?", lovingly offer some ideas that are constructive and helpful.
Day 4 - Jul 23, 2020
Men and women both want to know what they’re feeling is important, and their spouse wants to be aware of it.
You don’t have to agree with each other, but you do need to validate each other. An important aspect of validating emotions means allowing your spouse the freedom to vent. It doesn’t mean fighting all the time, but it does mean giving your spouse the right to disagree without paying a price.
They need to be able to say, “That hurt me” or “I’m frustrated” without being ignored or attacked. They need to feel safe with the validation of empathy and listening (without defensiveness).
Without this type of healthy communication, a married couple will struggle to find true emotional intimacy.
There is a difference between critical conversation and criticizing.
The first allows you to share how something makes you feel so it can be corrected. Criticizing tries to assign blame and rarely takes responsibility.
Reflect on your marriage, decide to take the road of empathy when issues arise. Tell or assure your spouse that you as a couple are "Safe Spaces" for each other as you discuss matters that concern you.
For Mandy, her childhood & adolescent days were not filled with memories of a healthy marriage modeled in front of her. In fact, she never witnessed her parents having a healthy conversation due to divorcing when she was six months old. The good news is, God can take that brokenness and create a "patternbreaking" healthy approach to the art of conversation between husband and wife.
Thirty-three years later, Mandy and I are still enjoying the miraculous, restorative love of God through a healthy covenant of marriage and marital conversation. Only a mighty, loving God can do that!
Day 5 - Jul 24, 2020
Here’s a test of your emotional intimacy. Sit down with each other and ask these kinds of questions.
- Am I doing a good job?
- How can I improve?
- Are your needs being met?
- Am I doing anything that frustrates you?
- What do I do that hurts you?
Selfish pride, which is a form of insecurity, can cause the sound of these questions to make you cringe! Sometimes in our marriage, we've had insecurities and would never ask these kinds of questions, because we didn’t want to hear the answers. It's vulnerable-laidbare talk in which no one wants to feel they are given a "score". Yet, it makes way for insight.
This must be a "safe place" heart to heart share time to be lovingly real with one another. We squirmed the first time we asked/answered these questions. Today, we can open up with each other and talk without fear.
Laying aside selfish pride, opens up a doorway to the heart.
We check in on our marriage, asking and answering those questions on a regular basis. We work on being quick to lovingly say, "I'm sorry, I never realized my words/actions made you feel that way." The emotional intimacy that results is one of the keys to our happy marriage and a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
It's a great time for you to mark on your calendar a little get away for you and your spouse to have fun, reconnect and check in on your marriage with a heart to heart of "How am I doing?" to each other.
Marriage can be a wonderful, growing adventure together and oh so worth it!