10 Things That Strengthen Our Marriage

Although Jared and I have only been married for about two and a half years, I have been exposed to countless different views on the “rights and wrongs” of marriage in this short amount of time. What I have come to find is that no two marriages will look the same, and there is nothing wrong with that. I wanted to share a few things that my husband I do or have decided on together in our marriage that I believe have played a huge role in our growth and closeness. Some of these things were established in the beginning, and others were founded along the way. Some of these things may sound crazy or a bit ridiculous, and that’s okay! As I said before, it’s not necessary for all of us to do things identically, but these things work for us!

1. We share passwords. This has been something we’ve done since the very beginning. Do we ever actually log in and check each other’s Facebook or text messages? No, but it’s nice to know that if either of us wanted to for any given reason, we would be able to with no questions asked. Our reasoning behind this decision was to instill trust and transparency. Above all, we long to have a solid marriage with an over flowing amount of trust, so we decided to do whatever it took to reach that point. Insecurity and trust were two real struggles for me when Jared and I got married. It was an issue I had to hand over to God, and still have to be deliberate about, but choosing to share passwords and be transparent helped us grow tremendously. We also cleaned up our Facebook pages and deleted people who posted inappropriate photos or articles. Neither of us felt it was beneficial to see those type of things on our daily newsfeed, and it also provided peace knowing that these negative things would not be popping up!

2. We share a bank account and respect the budget. This started when we got engaged, and it makes a whole lotta sense to me. We have one shared bank account, and that’s where all of our money goes. We also have a budget. We have had a budget since we got engaged, too. Jared has taught me to love budgeting and to see the value in budgeting. Because of our budget, we are able to save and also do things we love, without feelings guilty about it. Our budget is divided up into these categories:

Car insurance
Gas
Phone
TV/Internet
Utilities
Groceries
Restaurant
Tithe
Mortgage
Hair
Blow Money

Budgeting would not work if we both didn’t agree to it and stick to it. I don’t spend money without talking to Jared about it first.  In fact, neither of us make purchases without discussing it first. Jared works so hard to provide for our family and to plan for the future, so I try really hard to respect him and abide by our budget. If I want to buy something, like a shirt, but there’s no room in the budget, then we will take money from a certain category, such as date night budget. Sticking to a budget allows for structure and stability. We do have the “blow” category which is there for unexpected things that we don’t purchase every month, such as wedding gifts, office supplies, or a new dress for example. Having this blow portion allows us to stick to our budget even when unexpected things come up!

3. We check the rating and the content before viewing every single movie. Yep! We don’t watch hardly ANY of the movies that are released nowadays…There is a website called http://www.kidsinmind.com and we visit it all the time. It always surprises me when people say, “Yeah, we started watching that movie but had to turn it off…” I’m thinking, how didn’t you know?? This website rates movies based on different categories, such as violence or sexual content. We look to see what the movie contains, and if it is something that we don’t want to stick in our minds (such as nudity) we don’t watch it…It’s nonnegotiable. This doesn’t cause arguments in our marriage because Jared and I both strive to have pure thoughts and a holy marriage and we know that viewing nudity on the TV screen does nothing but allow way for the enemy to attack our marriage. There are tons and tons of movies that we have to pass up, but we don’t think it’s worth watching a movie with impure content just to get a good laugh, or a good thrill. Our society has tried to lie to us and make us think it’s okay to view nudity when it’s in a movie, but we don’t believe it’s okay. We don’t believe it’s healthy for our marriage so we don’t do it. John Piper has an AWESOME message on this if you aren’t sure of why it’s not okay for Christians to view nudity on television. You can read about it here here or you can download the app called “Ask Pastor John” and listen to his message called “Should Christians Watch Game of Thrones?” It is incredible. Here are the 12 things Pastor John says you should ask yourself before you view a show or movie such as Game of Thrones.

4. We don’t ride in the car alone with a member of the opposite sex, nor do we have coffee or doing anything else that is the least bit intimate. Andy Stanley has a great series called Guard Rails in which he talks about the importance of putting up guard rails and staying as far away from the line of temptation as possible. He talks about how we never set out to fail and give into temptation, but when we put ourselves in dangerous situations, the enemy is more likely to attack and we are more likely to give into temptation. If you haven’t listened to this series, then you should! You can find the series here.

5. We compromise. A LOT. We both give in to each other’s (healthy) desires. We try to place each other’s needs before our own. I don’t know what more to say about this one, but we have both had to humble ourselves during our marriage journey and set aside our own selfish desires and start caring more about one another than we do ourselves.

6. We are honest – about every single thing. The good, the bad, and the ugly. This ties in with #1, the trust issue. Neither of us are naïve enough to think that our marriage is perfect or that our spouse is perfect and will never mess up. If I do something,see something, think something, etc., that is impure or just bad for our marraige, I tell Jared, and vice versa. It hasn’t always been this way, but we have had a few lonnnng heart to hearts and have agreed that we want to know everything, even if it means being hurt in the process of finding out. Some people think it’s easier to just not know the bad things, but I have seen our marriage grow and flourish SO much due to our raw and honest conversations. I love being able to hold my husband accountable to watch the Lord work in him and to see him grow. Jared and seen me overcome some huge obstacles in my own life, and he wouldn’t have been able to rejoice with me in my victory if he didn’t know there was an obstacle in my life to begin with. Honesty really really is the best policy!

7. We prioritize our time with each other, and we check in before we make solo plans. We value each other and know the importance of spending quality time together. Quality time is each of our love languages, actually, so it comes naturally. We do things apart sometimes, but we are very sensitive to each other’s needs. For example, I’m not going to go out with my girls three nights in a row and leave Jared at home by himself. We try to balance our time together with some time apart, but we always check with one another before making plans to do something that doesn’t include the other.

8. We go to bed together every night. This is something that we do now, and hope to do forever. I think going to bed together every night is super important. Going to bed together is one of the best parts of marriage! Snuggling and talking about the day….letting all your thoughts out….It’s one of the best parts of the day, in my opinion. We always choose to go to bed together, because we want to share that time together and also because we don’t want to allow any bad habits to creep in. If we choose to go to bed at different times say, once a month, then in the future it might happen twice a month, and then once a week, and then the next thing you know, one of us is going to bed alone every night. We want to stay close and strong, so we choose to share this time together every night. If there is a late football game on that Jared wants to watch, I will just lay down on the couch with him and fall asleep on his lap.

9. We share chores. I think this is huge! Since we both have full time jobs AND do photography on the side, neither of us thinks it’s fair to say that one of us does all of the cleaning while the other does laundry. We just share. If there is something that needs to be done, one of us just does it. I end up doing dishes for the most part, but that’s just because I’m OCD about them and want the kitchen cleaned before we are even done eating! Haha! I think sharing chores keeps us from placing any expectations on each other. I wouldn’t be very appreciative of Jared when he cleaned the bathroom if that was his duty…Sharing chores just works for us! BUT, I can see how dividing tasks and having weekly jobs would work too. Do what works for you!

10. We talk about EVERYTHING. Every single upset. Every single word said with an attitude. Everysingle rolling of the eyes. I give my husband all of the credit when it comes to this one. I tend to naturally be passive aggressive and try to let things slide without talking about the issue and my husband is the complete opposite; He forces it out of me. He won’t leave me alone until we talk about the issue and settle it. I have a tendency to respond to the “What’s wrong?” question with a simple, “Nothing…”

I will never forget the time we had one of those passive aggressive disputes when Jared said, “I want to be a better husband, but I won’t know how to get better unless you tell me what I did wrong…” Aw man, he’s good. I felt so guilty. The only way we can grow in this thing is if we tell each other everything and share our feelings. He needs to know that it hurts my feelings when I’m talking to him but he’s texting someone at the same time. I need to remember that Jared needs words of affirmation, and he doesn’t feel valued by me when I forget to provide that affirmation.These things are huge!

I hope you have enjoyed reading through these things. I wouldn’t be sharing them if I didn’t feel like that played a huge role in the awesome-ness of our marriage. Marriage is amazing, but is also sensitive, so I think it’s important to be very intentional when it comes to the day to day decision making.

I would love to hear your thoughts/opinions on these 10 things and the hear if there are additional things that you and your spouse do that seem to work!

XOXO

-Em

EmSign

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