It’s no secret that our world is changing constantly and at a rapid rate. My husband, Adrian, asked me yesterday if I had downloaded the new update on my phone. I excitedly eeked “Yes, I did that two weeks ago!”- Silently flattering myself for proving to my husband that I am techy and “in the know”, just this once. My childish glee melted away when he responded, “No… there’s a newer one. Didn’t you see?”… Why does it all change so quickly?
But as I try to stay current with the world and my friends through social media using my updated (for now) phone, I cannot help but be in awe over how many engagement and wedding pictures I see flowing through my feed. We adapt without hesitation to a culture that becomes more digitalized each day, and yet we are still practicing the union of marriage- a practice that occurred in ancient societies thousands of years ago. Our lifestyles have changed, the way we shop, communicate and commute all look different than how they did even five years ago, but marriage keeps pressing on through the centuries.
With the divorce rate being that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and even higher rates for second and third marriages, it may lead us to believe that people are choosing to stay away from marriage in the millennial world. If our lifestyles are changing, perhaps marriage will also fade out? However, what I have discovered in my work is that this is not the case. Young people still desire to be married; what they fear is committing to a marriage that fails.
So how do we ensure that our young marriage does not become another sad statistic? How do we create a marriage that will last a lifetime of changes, updates, and trends? The answer is being intentional in more ways than one- and that is what I will be sharing here over the course of some weeks. Helpful tips that will encourage you to focus on your spouse and pour into your marriage daily.
Tip #1: Build Each Other Up
It is easy to fall in love with the idea of marriage and the stature that it appears to provide. For so many in the beginning, getting married comes with the personal perks of sharing the good news of engagement to friends and family, planning a once in a lifetime wedding, and making future plans with your partner- all actions that naturally showcase this highlight moment of your life to the rest of the world. And as couples say their vows and pledge their lives to one another, there is the underlying ideation that “My moment is here. I am good enough to be loved by someone else forever. I am ready to move into this next season of life. I do.”
Instead of getting caught up in how marriage is benefiting you, refocus your mindset to one of selflessness and servanthood towards your spouse. Marriage is the realest relationship you will ever have in your life; one where you see each other’s flaws, fears, and weaknesses crystal clear. The Bible says in Genesis that the two of you “will become one flesh”- that’s how closely you will know one another. And the gift you can give your spouse through marriage is the constant reminder that they are truly known and truly loved. No one else is able to do that but you.
So start asking yourself the questions, “How can I make my wife feel loved by me today?” or “How can I show my husband that I am his biggest fan?” When we take the attention off of ourselves and towards our spouse, we begin to foster an atmosphere of security and love. A healthy marriage is when each person leaves the house feeling like they can take on the world. As you build up your spouse, you become your partner’s safe place to recharge, knowing that no matter what, I have someone who will stand in my corner and fight for me.
One of my favorite books, Fall in Love for Life, is written by 96 year old, Cutie Cooper. She and her husband, Harry, were married for 73 years and in the book she shares all of the wisdom she has to offer on how to sustain a thriving marriage. Cutie says, “By giving me all his best attention, Harry built up my ego and it made me feel like a queen. I never had to worry if he was bored with me or our marriage, because when I saw his eyes light up, I knew our love was strong. We never played games to make the other feel unsure or insecure. We didn’t know how to play games.”
Marriages that last a lifetime are created by people who actively love each other well. They don’t let doubt creep into the cracks of their relationship, but instead, seal up the cracks with words of admiration and selfless, loving acts that convince their partner, without a doubt, “my spouse loves me for me”. When you build up your spouse, you are building up your marriage.
- Do something out of the norm to make your spouse feel special. Buy him his favorite candy bar. Plan a surprise date night for her. Leave a note on his mirror each morning for a week with something you love about him. Hold her hand in public. These are just a few ideas to get your mind thinking of ways to show your spouse he/she matters most to you!
- When he complains about his day at work, listen and take his side. Don’t try to solve the problem or tell him he should have done something differently. When it feels like the world is against you, it’s comforting to know your partner for life is on your side (even if you know you’re being ridiculous).
- Be intentional. These are all great ideas, but if we’re not mindful of doing them, life’s craziness will carry away our attention. In the beginning, get in the habit of asking yourself before you go to sleep, “How did I build her up today?” If you can’t think of anything, set some new goals for tomorrow and carry them out. Do this until building up your spouse becomes a habit.
Written by: Ashley Hébert, Registered Marriage & Family Therapist Intern