I have the most amazing children! The two oldest, ages 27 and 25, realized months ago that my husband and I were headed to hit 30 years of marriage this month of August 2021. So they said they wanted to send us on a second honeymoon vacation to celebrate. We had a hard time deciding the destination but finally chose the Florida Keys. So we named the place and my older children bought the airfare, lodging, and gave us money to spend on the trip. Wow! We went to Key West and found the end of the rainbow, a tropical paradise full of all the beaching, swimming, romance movie watching, seafood eating, snorkeling, bicycle riding, sleeping in, journal writing, reading, lighthouse touring, flora and fauna watching, museum and bookstore browsing a girl and her man could enjoy in 3 days.
It never even crossed my mind when I was their age to send my parents on an anniversary trip. Maybe children are being born brighter and less selfish as the decades go by?! Here’s looking to what my grandchildren give me for my 50th, LOL! Actually, I sure hope the second coming of Jesus Christ has arrived by then and I can just teleport to any beach any day I want to, and bring my grandchildren with me!
It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was on a tropical island, eating conch fritters, sipping pink lemonade, and snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico. We had sooooo much fun! So here are some photos of our trip of a lifetime plus a dozen celestial truths on how to build a marriage that gets to be 30 years old, like mine, and hopefully lasts into the eternities.
I feel victorious! We have reached 30 years weathering all sorts of challenges: unemployment, debt to the point of feeling tempted to declare bankruptcy, 7 children (LOL!), homeschooling, personality differences, different views of child discipline, illness, etc. The typical things that most/many couples face. So yeah, it’s a victory to get to 30 years of marriage. On top of that, we also didn’t even have one argument on the trip. Whew! My husband and I are definitely two different, opinionated, strong-willed, imperfect people and have had our share of arguments, even heated debates. Over the years I have learned though to lessen the contention, mostly by biting my tongue and listening more.
My heart aches for those who have marriages that don’t work out. I hope anything in this blog will help to increase the harmony in your marriage or give you hope for harmony and joy for a future marriage.
Years ago, I shared my girlfriend Joyce’s “7 Tips to Marital Bliss.” Here are my dozen tips:
- Have your marriage based on Jesus Christ. If God is your third partner, then as you grow closer to our Savior Jesus Christ, you will grow closer to each other, as I learned from Elder Bednar’s talk on marriage years ago. If your marriage is based on the Savior, you are more likely to view it as a covenant, not a contract. That means God is involved as a third party. When you got married, you made a commitment to your spouse and God that you would build your husband and marriage. You know you can ask Him for help in the sacred name of Jesus Christ and He will give it to you. Even if your marriage does end, if it was based on God on your end, you will know you and God gave it everything and the ending was not because of a lack on your parts. So that allows you to have peace at some level, even if the marriage ended.
2. As part of believing God, pay your tithing. When I was married for less than 10 years I read this talk by Dr. Janet Smith. She gives the $100 challenge. She tells her married listeners of her speech to commit to two things: 1. Pay tithing, and 2. Use natural family planning as your “birth control” (I don’t like that phrase, I prefer “fertility awareness.”) If you get divorced after doing those two faith-based behaviors (and they do take faith!) then she says she will pay you $100. She says so far nobody has asked her for the $100. OK, so that leads me to my next truth to build a marriage on.
3. This one is not popular, but I’m saying it anyway since this is my party and my blog. I’m sharing what has worked for my marriage. Please don’t feel guilty or offended if you haven’t done this. I’m not saying you can’t stay married if you don’t do this. As part of believing God, trust that your fertility is from God. After all, that is something we have on earth, the power to create life, that God has as well. It is a divine power. So this divine power deserves to be treated very sacredly. The way to do that is to use natural family planning, instead of artificial contraceptives. This allows you and your husband to appreciate that a woman’s body has seasons, and therefore the marriage relationship rightfully has beautiful seasons of enjoyment and abstinence. It allows you to feel cherished by your husband and not used. After 10 years of marriage, I finally convinced my husband for us to rely on natural family planning. It has been such a blessing to our marriage. We haven’t looked back. I love that the word “husband” literally means that he is like a steward of fertility, like a farmer who is a steward of the earth’s soil. If you want more about this topic, click here to read Chapter 6 from my book Tree of Life Mothering Vol. 1 about Getting Off the Birth Control Conveyor Belt.
4. Pray every night as a couple. Take turns with each of you praying vocally. You may be steaming mad when you kneel to pray. The prayer does help to to lessen the steam. You might still go to bed angry but you just won’t be as much angry as you would be if you hadn’t prayed together :-). If you absolutely can’t sleep write out all your angry feelings on paper.
5. Have a weekly planning meeting, what we call Family Executive Council. I learned to do this from Oliver and Rachel DeMille’s book, Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning. This is a time to go over the upcoming week’s calendar, talk about finances, your needs and the children’s needs, who is driving who, when and where, etc.
6. Get counseling from a professional counselor if needed. We have and I’m not ashamed of it. Counseling helps you learn how to communicate respectfully and talk about differences.
8. Have a weekly date night. The date doesn’t have to be fancy or away from home. If all you can manage is getting the kids to bed and then watching a movie on the laptop in your bed, or reading a book aloud to the other until one of you dozes off, that’s OK. It’s so much better than nothing. (I’ve got a list of date night movies here.)
9. Listen without interrupting. Say, “Hmmm….that’s interesting,” when you disagree, instead of reacting emotionally to something that you think is disgusting, horrible, dumb, or stupid, that your husband says. I learned this from Ramona Zabriskie, author of Wife for Life. Repeat back what he said so he knows your listening. Ask unemotional questions if you want him to realize something. Give him space to figure things out as you expect him to do the same for you.
10. When you do want to call your husband out on something he did that was any of the adjectives I just mentioned, esepcially if it is hurtful and/or abusive, do so in private, and use “I” statements, such as, “When you did that, I felt this way, because…” Then ask for the change you want without whining or complaining. If the problem persists, then it is time to get counseling.
11. Read marriage books and apply them. Some that I’ve enjoyed are:
–Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman
– The Proper Care and feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura
–Wife for Life by Ramona Zabriskie
–What Makes Love Last? by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman (I like everything in this book except the part where it says it’s OK to have porn in the marriage as long as you both view it together. I absolutely disagree with that. Porn is evil, because it objectifies people and is addictive, whether you view it alone, as a couple, or in a group. It is like a rattlesnake that should be completely avoided. )
12. Fill your own bucket of needs, or romance your own heart, so that you don’t depend on your husband to “make” you happy. Accept the fact that he can never meet all your needs. Only God can. God can inspire you on how to do this. This is what Ramona Zabriskie calls giving yourself “delights,” “drops,” and “dazzles.” See the video below at the 4:39 mark. For me these things include: doing family history research and temple work, bike rides, other physical exercise, nature walks and hikes, with taking photos along the way, bubble baths, thrifting, reading picture books aloud to my children, buying some new thing for my kitchen like a pretty new hand towel or potholder, listening to podcasts, reading chapter books, getting with girlfriends in person or over Zoom, reading the scriptures, playing the piano, going out to my garden in the cool of the evening to weed, eating chocolate, watching a great movie, playing a board game with friends or family, blogging, and serving others. As Ramona says, it’s anything that gives you a boost of oxytocin, without a lot of time or money.
That’s it! May you apply these to your marriage or hold them in your heart to apply when you do get married.
I believe in marriage and in your marriage, like Ramona does as seen below!
P.S. The same week I celebrated my 30 years, I got an email on marriage tips, to celebrate her 34th anniversary, from fellow Christian mommy blogger Jennifer Flanders. I love her idea of decorating their car every year, like most people do after a wedding. This year she wrote on her husband’s car window, “Still married after 34 years and the honeymoon isn’t over!” Maybe I’ll do that next year!
I’m sharing her tips from her blog on how to build marriage below.
Free resources for nurturing your marriage (from Jennifer Flanders of flandersfamily.info:
- 30-Day Respect Challenge – a full month of emailed encouragement and practical suggestions for communicating respect to your husband
- 31 Scriptures to Pray for Your Husband – another free printable… focus on one prayer a day and intercede for your husband all month long
- Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language – tips for learning your husband’s love language (& what to do if he isn’t fluent in yours)
- A-to-Z Guide for Building a Better Marriage – a pretty printable full of scriptural encouragement
- Pray for Your Husband from Head to Toe – another free printable prayer guide to help you pray for your husband
- Love and Respect Coloring Page – a retro-looking coloring page based on Ephesians 5:33