In the classic movie The Princess Bride, we see this marriage scene.
Not every marriage starts well.
This one didn’t. 😀 It was doomed from the start, as we know from the rest of the movie. But it’s just a movie, a farce, a funny poke at real life.
While that’s true, movies often exploit real issues we don’t want to deal with. We laugh at what happens, but some people who experience these issues might feel a painful jab. They wonder what they should have done differently.
Some marriages start on a solid foundation.
The two people took time to get to know each other before marriage. Perhaps they chose pre-marital counseling and actively participated in each exercise. Yet, once married, familiarity and daily responsibilities took over. The two spent less time working on their relationship. Ten, fifteen, or more years later, they stare at each other, wondering what happened. No more than roommates, lonely, they look for different ways to receive the attention they desire. Eventually, the marriage falls apart from neglect.
Some marriages come packaged with an unhealthy secret.
Like mine. Both my husband and I brought hidden secrets to our relationship. We exposed them briefly but never to the full extent of the pain and struggle.
I believed that if I did everything “right,” submitted to and loved my husband as best I could, attended church regularly, read my Bible regularly, parented my children well, kept a good house, and so on, I’d have a good marriage despite our inner struggles. Eventually, those secrets exploded. My husband and I share this story in our book Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom.
By God’s grace, we found a way through those landmines. Together. And I’m thankful we did. But not every marriage survives the explosion.
Someone asked me what it takes to have a healthy marriage.
While pondering that, some short phrases came to mind. Things I wish someone had told me before I got married. Or at least in the first couple years of marriage.
If you’re struggling in your marriage or just starting out, maybe something on this list will clue you in to what you don’t know or understand right now. If you’ve been married for more than a minute, perhaps something here will relate to a struggle or at least make you smile and say, “Yup. Wish I’d known that earlier.”
What do you do if what you know about marriage doesn’t match your marriage, especially if it is something you don’t know how to fix?
The best thing we did when we hit our crisis was reach out for help. Maybe if we’d sought help early in our marriage, we would have discovered the issues sooner. We’ll never know.
As you read these short thoughts, if you feel overwhelmed, please reach out. Let’s talk about some of your struggles and find a path forward. We get hurt by our spouse, and we hurt him. Some issues cannot be resolved quickly. As a betrayal recovery coach, let’s develop a plan forward together. You have hope. Let me show you.
100 Things I Wish I Knew As A Young Bride About A Healthy Marriage
What makes a healthy marriage? Just some quick thoughts, in no particular order, that I wish I’d learned a lot earlier.
- Marriage is 100%/100% rather than 50%/50%.
- My husband has unique gifts; so do I.
- Give him honest compliments every day.
- Complement him daily. Yes, there’s a difference from #3.
- My husband parents differently than I do; our kids benefit.
- I married the man and his family of origin.
- Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.
- Authenticity builds intimacy.
- Intimacy leads to beautiful sex, not the other way around.
- Any porn kills intimacy.
- Porn ruins sex.
- Building a solid friendship strengthens my marriage.
- God and me first, my husband second, kids third, then others. Don’t mess up the order.
- The closer I am to God, the healthier my other relationships.
- My husband cannot meet all my needs. Ever.
- I am complete in Jesus.
- Two complete people make a strong marriage.
- My husband does not complete me (Jerry Maguire is wrong).
- Marriage doesn’t exist for my happiness.
- Happiness results from living a committed life.
- Every marriage struggles at times.
- Understand the difference between mistakes and repeated cruelty.
- Forgiveness frees me to heal.
- My husband will hurt me, and I will hurt him.
- Kiss him like it’s the last time ever.
- My husband’s heart is fragile. Handle with care.
- Secrets eat away at a marriage.
- Pray for and with my husband daily.
- Play with my husband regularly.
- Respect is earned.
- Speak life-giving words.
- Be kind.
- Seek to serve him well with no strings attached.
- Marriage demonstrates Christ’s love for humans.
- God does the impossible when we let him and cooperate with him.
- Trust is built in small ways every day.
- Trust can be lost quickly.
- Date him.
- Express appreciation for him every day.
- Speak well of him in public.
- Focus on what he does right.
- Understand the difference between my needs, wants, and desires. They matter.
- My husband has needs, wants, and desires. They matter.
- Love is an action verb.
- Sex improves the longer you are married to each other.
- My husband can be my safe haven.
- I can be my husband’s safe haven.
- Take care of myself in all ways.
- Risk sharing my deepest fears with my husband.
- I can’t fix my husband.
- Talk with God first about my frustrations with my husband.
- Admit my part in disagreements.
- My husband and I are different people. That’s what makes life together exciting.
- My way isn’t always the right way. Neither is his.
- Comparison benefits no one.
- Live within our means.
- Respect and honor the family budget.
- Be present.
- Discover something new about him every day.
- Celebrate the small stuff. It’s really the big stuff.
- My husband wants to romance me; he just isn’t sure how.
- Cherish each other.
- Believe for him when he’s filled with doubts. Your turn will come.
- You’re his wife, not his mom.
- Honor his parents, even when it’s hard.
- Be his most ardent supporter.
- Maintain your individuality.
- Don’t expect your husband to think like or act like you. He’s a unique individual.
- God + one man + one woman who are both dependent on God for everything = a healthy marriage.
- Build a friendship with an older couple who love God and have a healthy marriage. Learn from them.
- Create security for your children by loving each other well.
- No one can hurt you more than your spouse.
- The more you risk transparent communication with your husband, the more intimacy you experience.
- There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage.
- Forgive quickly and often.
- The struggles make you stronger.
- The best marriage advice comes from those who’ve suffered.
- Daily check-ins help mitigate any issues.
- Learn to talk to God together.
- Hold hands whenever you can.
- Practice non-sexual touching throughout the day.
- Say “I love you” with your actions.
- It’s okay to spend time alone if you need it.
- Sitting together in solitude can speak volumes.
- Ask the tough questions.
- It’s hard to listen well.
- Be adventurous.
- Explore his interests and invite him into yours.
- You may not resolve the disagreement until tomorrow. But resolve it quickly.
- Go for the win-win whenever possible.
- Marriage counseling is a good thing.
- Remember often what you love about your husband.
- Tell him what you love about him.
- Be thankful he’s not perfect. Who’d want to live with a perfect man?
- Laugh often and much.
- Turn mistakes into funny memories. You’ll be glad you did.
- Snuggle as much as possible.
- Believe his motives are pure, even if you’re hurt.
- If you’re having a grumpy day, admit it to him so he doesn’t think he’s done something wrong.
- Trust God with your marriage.