We believe marriages can be and are meant to be, beautiful, meaningful and fulfilling. Having said that, we know marriage is something you have to work at and be intentional about. "Happily ever after," can be a reality, but it requires effort, determination and commitment from both spouses. It requires you choose love.
Every marriage has its ups and downs. We have yet to meet a happily married couple that hasn't endured bumps in the road. As we've traveled the road of life together (and continue to do so), we've discovered some key principles that make marriage meaningful. We call these keys the Six Pillars to nurturing your marriage. Here is a little overview of each of the 6 pillars, and how they can help nurture your marriage today.
The Little Things
Every day you have the choice to attend to the little things in your marriage. Little things like picking up your socks, kissing your wife goodbye as she heads out to work, washing the dishes, picking up his favorite cereal at the store and leaving a little sticky notehinting at a fun evening together. Choose to be intentional about expressing love and loyalty in little ways, and watch how your marriage grows and changes for the better.
You and the love of your life need a night out on a regular basis to rekindle the romance in your marriage. To focus on each other. To talk. To laugh. To have fun. To create memories. If you haven't been on a planned date in a while, ask your spouse out. Then go have fun together. Open her door. Hold his hand. Put away the smart phones and enjoy each other's presence. A consistent date night will give you both something wonderful to look forward to. If you are looking for some creative date ideas, check out these 5 Spring Time Date Ideas.
Intimacy, in all its forms, is critical to cohesiveness and happiness in marriage. You and your spouse know everything about each other. You can be real, vulnerable and open with each other. You can be completely transparent with each other — all while feeling safe, loved and cared about. You can share your whole self with each other, which is the most beautiful part about marriage. If you feel that intimacy in your marriage has become bland and boring, check out these four ideas for re-energizing sexual intimacy.
Marriage is about becoming. It's about stretching yourself to be better each and every day. When both spouses are focused on becoming their best self, and making the sacrifices necessary to do so, you're bound to succeed. Having shared values is a key part of a healthy foundation for a happy marriage. When was the last time you told your spouse everything you love about them? Or talked about their strengths, characteristics and traits that bless your marriage? When you and your spouse focus on the good in each other, and on shared values like loyalty, trust, honesty and respect, you will notice a big difference in the quality of your marriage.
Routines & Rituals
Your marriage is full of routines and rituals that you may not even recognize are there. Just think of it — the nicknames you have for each other, your special place, the way you celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and even the way you kiss goodnight right before you go to sleep. Routines and rituals offer couples multiple opportunities a day to be intentional and consistent about nurturing their marriage.
When two different people fall in love and get married, it is natural for there to be some conflict, some differences in views, and some realization of habits or quirks that bug each other. Though hard, conflict has the power to draw you closer together, to teach you to truly listen to each other and to give you the chance to accommodate room for improvement in your own life. Conflict invites you to sacrifice, to be selfless and to let love and respect govern your relationship with your spouse. Conflict can actually lead to some of the sweetest experiences in married life because it gives both spouses the opportunity to forgive and forget (and sometimes you just have to kiss it out). It can help you learn to communicate effectively. It can lead you to experience a closeness and intimacy unlike any other.
We believe that marriage matters, a lot. Your marriage matters and needs constant nurturing to keep love alive. By applying these six pillars to your marriage, you will find it will become more beautiful and meaningful than you could ever imagine.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.