This week, the 11-part Instagram story of Cheryl and Bobby went viral (you can read the story on Instagram). After 40 years of marriage and 4 adult children, Cheryl found out that her husband had been lying to her since the day she met him. The internet has questions as some people believe their marriage is “true love”, while others think their union is the perfect example of “struggle love”. After reading their story, I began to think about the power of love, loyalty, and the qualities it takes to build a healthy marriage.
Marriage takes love, respect, loyalty, and commitment to successfully stand the test of time. It takes two individuals who are committed to being there for one another in the good times and the bad. A healthy marriage takes commitment from both husband and wife. If only one person is doing all the hard work, it isn’t a healthy marriage.
No marriage is perfect, and no love story is the same. However, there are universal aspects of healthy marriages that are the building blocks to a strong marital foundation. No matter your religious background, childhood upbringing, or personal ethics and values, we can all agree that it takes work to build a healthy marriage.
I got married at eighteen. You read that right – eightTEEN. “Why would you get married so young?” people always ask. The answer is pretty simple, actually. I was in love with my best friend, and I didn’t want to live my life apart from him – so we got married.
This year I will turn thirty and have eleven years of marriage under my belt. The #1 thing that helped us to build a healthy marriage over time? We are friends first. Our friendship is truly the foundation of our marriage. In the past decade, we have gone through things that would have torn other marriages apart. However, being friends has made a difference in how we interact and communicate with each other.
So many people get married and forget to be friends within the marriage. Who says once you get married you have to stop having fun? Society feeds us lies that once a couple gets married their life is over, but that is far from the truth! After you get married, you now have a personal cheerleader, support system, and friend all wrapped up into one person. The divorce rates are rising because people are getting married and viewing their marriage as a “legal contract” instead of viewing marriage as a lifelong union.
Many people have best friends that they have known for 10+ years. You and your best friend grew up together, know each other’s deepest secrets, and would never hurt one another. When you learn to view your spouse as your lifelong friend, the dynamic of your marriage begins to change.
A friend is a person with whom you have a special bond. In a healthy marriage, your husband should also be your friend.
With your friends, you are more willing to work through arguments. You look forward to spending time with your friends, instead of dreading your time together. You are more likely to be open and honest with your friends than anyone else. To build a healthy marriage, you and your husband have to do the work to become lifelong friends. Laugh together, cry together, and learn something new about one another every single day. Intentional daily habits can help you to build a healthy marriage over time.
After being married, I have learned one valuable lesson – the importance of practicing self-care. Building a healthy marriage takes individual growth on both parts. The best thing I can do for my husband and my marriage is to take care of me. By prioritizing my physical, personal, and mental wellness, I am becoming a better wife and mother. The better I am, the better person I can be for others.
Whether you have been married for one year or for one hundred years, couples should never stop doing the daily work it takes to build a healthy marriage.
5 Everyday Habits That Build a Healthy Marriage
1. Choose your words carefully.
Husbands and wives should be intentional about the words they say to one another. Many times in marriage, it’s easy to spew unkind words in the heat of the moment, but how often do we intentionally choose the words we say to our spouse? It’s hard to take words back after you say them – so think before you speak.
As his wife, your words have to power to encourage or discourage him – so use your words wisely. If you are going to regret saying it later, don’t say it at all. Intentionally speak affirming words throughout the day such as “I Love You” and “I’m Sorry” when needed.
Speaking affirming words in marriage can look like:
- “Thanks for doing that for me”
- “I appreciate your hard work”
- “You look great!”
- “I’ve learned so much from you concerning…”
- “I enjoy spending time with you.”
2. Be kind.
Both husband and wife should be kind to one another. In the newlywed phase, it is easy to treat each other like royalty. But over time, so many of us get familiar with our spouses and forget to treat them with the same kindness we had in the early days. Each day, practice treating each other with kindness and watch as your marriage begins to flourish.
Kindness within your marriage may look like:
- speaking gently instead of nagging
- asking instead of telling
- running a last-minute errand so he doesn’t have to
3. Practice gratitude.
The two of you must learn to be grateful for one another. Daily gratitude is the practice of reminding yourself of how blessed you are. Over time, practicing gratitude for one another can have a big impact on your life, and help you both to appreciate all that you have. If your marriage is going through a rough spot, gaily gratitude can be a great reminder to be grateful for your husband and your marriage. Things may not be as perfect as you want them to be right now, but it could always be a lot worse.
Practicing gratitude in your marriage can be:
- thanking God in prayer for your husband and your marriage
- saying “thank you” when your husband does something nice for you
- telling him “I appreciate you” when he takes care of responsibility
- listing in your gratitude journal all of the qualities you love and appreciate about your husband
Communication is the most important part of any marriage between husband and wife. Communicating with and understanding one another has the power to build a healthy marriage over time. The more you communicate with one another, the better you will get to know each other.
Communication in marriage is:
- express positive feelings
- being honest with one another about your feelings
- not keeping secrets
- being vulnerable and transparent
- listening intently
- apologize when necessary
- use “I statements” instead of “you” statements
If you feel a disconnect in your marriage, you may need to learn to communicate with one another. There are many ways to help cultivate deeper communication in marriage, such as talking more, spending more quality time together, and going to marriage counseling or therapy.
5. Treat him the way you want to be treated.
Treating others the way you want to be treated is a rule that we oftentimes emphasize to those who don’t live with us. Although it is good to treat strangers with kindness, it’s even more important that we treat our spouses with love with respect. If you wouldn’t want that said or done to you, don’t say or do that to your husband. After all, it is the golden rule.
Consideration in marriage looks like:
- pour him a cup of coffee as you pour your own
- say “good morning” or “hello” when you first see one another for the day
- be patient when he makes mistakes
- being trustworthy with your actions
What do you think it takes to build a healthy marriage? Let me know in the comments!
I hope these tips help!