Marriage, Marriage: 5 Tips For Keeping a Marriage Strong, Relationship, Uncategorized

Marriage: 5 Tips For Keeping a Marriage Strong

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By Jeanne Takenaka

Hubby and I recently celebrated our eighteenth anniversary. Life before I met my man is hazy memories. Times with him occupy most of the happy cells in my thoughts, in my heart.

Things haven’t always been easy. We traversed the ups and downs of the second decade of a military career. Travel, occasional stress with co-workers and accomplishing the mission at hand sometimes demanded his focus.

Image We struggled through years of infertility. I drew away for a time, had to work through the disappointment that my honey wasn’t ready for adoption when I was. I cried out to God in my brokenness, and then clung to my husband once again. His comfort, his tears during that time eased the sorrow in my spirit that only empty arms can produce.
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We’ve fought and made up. Learning how to really talk with each other and not merely at each other. We’ve clung tight to each other through health scares, and leaned on the Lord for support.

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As children in the form of two pre-teen, exuberant boys fill our lives with chaos, laughter, frustration and immense gratitude, we walk hand-in-hand still. Praying that somehow God will craft us into the parents these two gifts need to grow into godly manhood. We’ve disagreed on some aspects of parenting, but we’ve talked it out. Prayed it through.

Busy seasons in his post-military job sometimes pilfers time from our relationship. Travel schedules—pulling all the details together to be successful on the work front—make for a different stress on the home front.
ImageWhen one boy has a meltdown—needs more of me than I have to offer—I can’t always lean on my honey in that moment. But, God is there to give me exactly what I need so I can do more than survive. He gives what’s necessary to thrive in the testing times.

And through it all, my husband prays. Powerful prayers come from the heart of that man. God hears and answers.
Image Five things that have strengthened our marriage through the trials, the tests and the tears are:

  1. Praying together. Nearly every night, and more often during stressful seasons. Each morning, we exchange prayer requests for the day. I may be the only person praying for my man as he enters “his” world.
  2. Giving each other at least one ten-second kiss each day. Steven Curtis Chapman talked about this years ago. Those kisses, where everything stops for a few seconds, and we belong only to each other.
  3. Making time to really talk. About our days, what’s coming up for our family, our calendars, what the Lord is teaching us, about whatever comes to mind. Adding children to the family mix makes this more difficult, but chatting time knits our hearts together.
  4. Dating each other. Again, family schedules makes this challenging. Setting aside time for our relationship—for us—is what keeps our family bonds strong.
  5. Purposing to keep each other as our top priorities—second only to our relationship with the Lord. In the midst of a recent hospital stay, my husband dropped everything to be with me. He took on the full responsibility of our boys so I could rest. This spoke love on an intimate level.

ImageThere will be other difficult times, but if we keep our priorities straight, we will thrive through those seasons.

What about you? How do you keep important relationships strong? What’s your must-do marriage tip?

**I’m guest posting at Lisa Van Engen’s About Proximity blog tomorrow. It would be great if you stopped by!

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10 thoughts on “Marriage: 5 Tips For Keeping a Marriage Strong”

  1. Jeanne, this is a great list.

    My addition would be knowing what not to say. We have an inside track in knowing where our spouses’ vulnerabilities lie, and we know that we can best make an argumentative point by scoring off those tender spots.

    Developing the decency and courtesy to refrain from saying what would let us win while causing hurt is a vital skill.

    Would we insult a stranger we have invited into our home, to win an argument? What gives us the right to do this to a spouse? They say that familiarity builds comtept – but only if we let it.

    In the traditional culture of Viet Nam, husbands are taught to treat their wives as honored guests in their houses and their lives. We would do well to emulate them.

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    1. Andrew, GREAT tip. Yes, words can build up or decimate. I love the emphasis you place on putting our spouses first—knowing their vulnerabilities and not playing on them. And, I love the thought of Viet Nam’s traditional culture of husbands treating their wives as honored guests. It should go both ways.

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  2. Great blog Jeanne! Thanking the other for even the smallest things is a good tip too. My husband always without fail thanks me for preparing a meal, no matter how simple. Laughter. We make occasions for laughter sometimes by just silly things like chasing each other around a square block of walls where the furnace and hot water heater live. We try and sneak around so the other cannot find us. Aways ends in a hug and laughter. Create small ways of playing together :))

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    1. Great tips, Mom. Gratitude goes a long ways in a relationship, especially marriage, where we’re up close and personal much of the time.

      And yes, making time for play/fun always add joy to the marriage.

      Thanks for sharing these!

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  3. This just warmed my heart. Beautiful! And you share five great tips. I love the 10-second kiss tip. I need to remember that one when my husband returns home. I can’t wait to give that man a kiss! I’ve found one of the positives of this time apart is how our communication has improved because when you are staring at each other through computer screens you need to talk to one another. I’m so thankful for how God is using this time to grow us as a couple. He is so good. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you.

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    1. Aww, thanks for the kind words, Beth. I’m sure you can hardly wait for your husband to get home. And won’t he love that 10 second (or more) kiss. 🙂

      I agree with you on the communication growing stronger when you HAVE to focus on the computer screen for chatting. Setting our tasks aside and focusing on our husbands and really hearing them makes for closer ties. I’m so glad God has drawn you and your husband closer during his deployment.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  4. Hi Jeanne.
    Great blog. Marriage. More than 25 years now. God gave me my best friend. My tip would probably be to appreciate your husband. I was looking out the window this morning…a beautiful morning here in Wisconsin…Finally!!!! Yay God. I looked out at the yard that my hubby loves to take care of, and the arbor that he made for me a few weeks ago, and the picket fence he lovingly built. The birdhouses that he created, and the bushes he trimmed…the list goes on and on. It is all the little things that build on each other. He loves to have me come and look at his projects. Thank you can never be said enough. Thank you to my husband for loving Jesus first, and being a wonderful husband to me and a great daddy to our kids…there is so much to be grateful for in the gift of marriage from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for this post and helping me to go say thank you to my husband! Blessings.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Gail! Yes, appreciating our spouses is key to keeping a marriage healthy. I love that your husband does things and wants you to see his projects. Two little words: Thank YOU have a big impact. Great tip!

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  5. Jeanne,
    What a great article. I love it. The article is wonderful for couples. Marriage can be so wonderful and it is sometimes hard; so women sharing with women how to stay strong in Jesus is awesome. Kudos to you. I agree with all five and would add humor!!! My hubby of almost 35 years, always has a way to make me laugh, even when I don’t want to!!! LOL

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    1. Hi Jo! Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, marriage is wonderful, AND it’s hard work. 🙂 I love your addition of humor. Laughter draws hearts together, yes? I love that your husband makes you laugh. And congrats on almost 35 years. That’s a legacy!

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