A friend recently asked me for marriage advice. As I began to write down my thoughts, I realized I wasn't doing a very good job at following the advice I was giving her. It was a beautiful reality check. It gave me a moment to reflect on my marriage and challenge myself to love him better.
I need to love him better.
I've been married for four years and this is what I know... Here was my advice to her.
Pray. My husband and I go to confession every two weeks with each other. After confession we kneel and ask each other for forgiveness for those times we've failed to love each other better. It keeps us from divorce. Pray a daily rosary for your marriage and for peace to remain in it. Mother Mary is a powerful intercessor. Hold each other accountable for daily personal prayer and ask each other frequently what the other needs prayers for. Read scripture, share scripture, and study it together. Nothing has been more rewarding and intimate than allowing God to transform our hearts through His Word.
Fun. Play battleship! Eat ice cream. Laugh at when you shrink clothes in the dryer... Or throw a nipple brush into a micro steam bag that ends up destroying two bottles...
Call each other out. Gently of course, but keep each other in check and communicate when something upsets you or hurts you.
Always be the first to say you're sorry. In every fight, you always have something to apologize for whether it be a raised voice or because you cut off your spouse mid-sentence to prove your point. Apologize and own those mistakes.
Love him in his love language. It's easy to forget this because it's easier to love in your own language. Step out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to ask him how his love tank is doing. Is it full? How can you love him better? Have you heard of The Five Love Languages? Check it out here. You can check out The Five Apology Languages, too.
Play. Chase him around the house with a glass of water... or squirt gun. You choose.
Make love. Truly. Making love is a sacred moment of renewing your wedding vows and will bring you closer to your spouse. Have you tried saying a prayer before making love and inviting God into your bedroom? The fruits of this are beautiful. Try it.
Talk about the little things. What did you have for breakfast that day? How was traffic? Nothing is too minor to share with him. Tell him you haven't shaved in a week... The more you discuss the everyday things, the easier it is to tackle the big things.
Tithe. God will take care of you. Be frugal. Be smart. It's fruitless to argue about money. When you don't have any, give more. When you have a lot, give more. Remember money is not yours and if God's in control of your finances, you will always have what you need and more.
Agree to keep fighting and arguing behind close doors. Fighting is personal and should remain between you and your spouse. Also, gossiping and speaking poorly about your spouse to someone else is hurtful especially when you do it out of anger. Always remain on the same team in front of family.. You can disagree later.
Voice expectations. Don't try to interpret his manual. It's much easier to let him explain it to you. Same for your manual. Explain it to him.
Have a baby! The best gift to give a spouse is the gift of fatherhood or motherhood.. It's beautiful.
Ask for clarification before reacting. 99% of the time, that look or comment he gave you didn't mean what you thought it did. Give him a chance to clarify and don't assume. This will save you from arguing majority of the time.
Maintain a Brotherhood and Sisterhood because these are an essential part of a well-balanced marriage. Continue to be fed from women in your life. That margarita with the ladies will make you a better wife. Truly. He needs to shoot something and drink a beer and laugh at a fart with the guys. Know that this is important, and push him to hang out with his friends every now and then.
Lay on the bed in silence and look at each other. Silence is rewarding and so is just being. I have the hardest time with this. Hugging your husband for a few seconds is more important than checking on the chicken in the oven... Sometimes. ;)
Sacrifice goes a long way. It is doable to give up your iced chai to buy him toothpicks that he needs to have after every meal... Even though you can't stand them. You can sacrifice blog time to engage in conversation with your spouse because he is more important than writing. Always.
Don't compare notes. It doesn't matter if you do the dishes five times in a week and the laundry and he only made the bed once. Because the next week, you may only get to the bathroom and he ends up vacuuming, doing the laundry, and cleaning the entire kitchen. Service without expectation is best.
Most importantly, use NFP. I've shared already some of the ways using a natural system has strengthened my marriage and allowed us to get through some tough times. It's a beautiful gift to give your spouse. Try it. (I happen to be an NFP teacher if you want more info).
Marriage is a lot of work, but very rewarding. Have a glass of wine with your spouse tonight and celebrate your love!
What about you? Have anything I should add to this list?