The mega-millions spent by Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, and by Katy Perry and Russell Brand, on their lavish and exotic weddings failed to guarantee a long and blissful union. But they are not alone. Recent statistics show a decline in couples getting married and staying married for more than a few months or years. Can marriages survive in today’s culture? Long-wedded author Poppy Smith says “Yes.” Here are her tips for building a marriage that thrives in a culture where marriages are falling apart.
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1. Readjust your expectations.
You didn’t marry your clone. Naturally, your partner will view some things differently. Be willing to flex and accept their right to be themselves. Happy couples accept each other’s quirks and ideas without judgement or blame.
2. Appreciate your different strengths.
Analyze your personalities, your backgrounds, and what’s important to each of you. Identify each other’s strengths and affirm what these add to your relationship. It could be great if you both enjoy cooking or spending time in the kitchen—or maybe one spouse makes the meals while the other spouse prefers to decorate the table. Instead of competing with each other, or looking down on your spouse for not being as good as you are at something, think about how you complement each other.
3. Learn to communicate so you’re heard.
Women tend to explain and expand. Men tend to edit. To be heard, communicate according to your spouse’s desired style, not yours. Pick the best time to talk. If one spouse is still thinking about work, or is engaged in reading a book or email, then the other spouse will feel ignored or unheard. Building a marriage that thrives means working both on listening well and communicating well.
4. Understand each other’s feelings about money.
Does money signal fun? Symbolize success? Guarantee security? Or ensure power? Knowing what it means to both of you helps in settling money battles.
Need more tips in this area? Check out Debt-Proof Your Marriage: How to Manage Your Money Together by Mary Hunt.
5. Practice a conflict resolution style that works for both.
Clarify what the conflict is about. Listen to each other’s reasoning and feelings without interrupting. It might help to set a timer; one spouse talks for five minutes, then the other spouse. Or writing down your ideas may help you share them with your spouse in a more productive (and less negative) manner. Then decide what best builds your relationship.
6. Recognize the emotional needs of your mate.
Both men and women want to be valued, admired, respected, and listened to. Discover what makes your spouse feel loved and special, then find ways to meet that need.
Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages is a great resource for any marriage!
7. Prioritize romance and sexual intimacy.
Sex matters. It gives physical and emotional pleasure, strengthens love, and deepens commitment. Make time to play or be silly or sensuous in bed. It pays rich dividends.
8. Share your dreams.
What is it each of you longs to achieve? Are there some dreams you want to accomplish together? Be encouragers to each other and discuss steps you can take now toward your goals. Dreaming with your spouse is a great way to get to know each other and to connect emotionally.
What tips would you share for building a marriage that thrives?
With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) use colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages others to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives.
For more marriage tips from Poppy, check out her book Why Can’t He Be More Like Me: 9 Secrets to Understanding Your Husband.