Marriage is a great adventure and like any truly great adventure, it comes with its own set of difficulties. While every couple is different, there is some overlap in how we can best love our spouses. After over 40 years of marriage, I can honestly say that I love Becky more now than I ever have before. We picked up these seven tips over the years and I want to pass them on to you now.

To set the tone, let’s start with how this marriage began in the first place:

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. — Genesis 2:18-24

    1. Praise your spouse and tell them that you love them. In the midst of all the breakups and rapid-fire relationships of Hollywood, Denzel Washington has been married over 30 years. He and Paulette make their marriage work. Here’s what he says about Paulette:

      It’s the little things my wife does every day, because the little things are the hard things, and they make you know someone is there. She’s up every day, making breakfast for the kids, and taking them to school. She makes every lunch, every dinner. She’s consistent and solid and full of discipline and dedication. I know that sounds corny, but I’m amazed by that.

      This is such a key part to marriage. No matter your love language, vocal praise and love are important. Even it feels unnatural because of how you were raised, it’s important to learn how to say it. Make sure they know how appreciative you are of their partnership with you. And remember, they won’t know unless you tell them! Don’t let this be your conversation. “You know I think you’re beautiful, right?” “Not really, you never say anything.” “Oh, well I’m thinking it all the time.” We haven’t developed mind-reading technology yet, so unless that praise moves from your thoughts to your lips, your spouse won’t know you’re thinking it.

    2. Be silent about your spouse’s shortcomings. While we need to be vocal about praise for our spouse, we don’t need to be so vocal about their shortcomings. Marriage is definitely an adventure of learning how to live closely with someone else’s faults. But remember, they’re doing the same for you!During the first few weeks after quitting a bad habit, one man was difficult to live with. Apologizing to his wife for his short temper, he commented, “I’ve gone from ‘Happy’ to ‘Grumpy.’ What’s next?” “Lonely,” she replied.It’s good to acknowledge your own shortcomings! If you know you’ve been difficult, try apologizing first. The second you see that plank in your eye, be open and apologize. Instead of getting hung up on your spouse’s shortcomings, try to instead be on top of your own. Chances are this behavior will rub off on your spouse, and you will both find that the air stays clearer between you.
    3. Recognize your spouses’s strong points and allow them to influence that part of your family. I like the story of a little boy who was asked if he believed in God. He answered, “Well, yes I do.” When asked why, he said, “Well, I guess it just runs in the family.” Families that encourage one another and empower one another are strong families! This is a great place to make sure that stereotypes aren’t dictating your family. Say you grew up believing that the man needs to handle the finances and the budget. But maybe you aren’t a numbers person, while your wife loves numbers. Let go of that stereotype and let your spouse thrive where the Lord’s gifted them. In turn, you can focus on using the gifts you have to influence your family.

I hope these tips help. Come back next week to learn the next four!

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