Secrets to a Successful Marriage {FREE PRINTABLE}

I lay in the curve of his arm and breathe deep. He smoothes my hair away from my face and replaces it with a soft kiss.

And after so many years together, we rarely hold back what’s in our heart. “I feel like I’m falling in love with you,” I whisper.

Again?” he smiles with raised eyebrows and pulls me closer.

Five Things that Have Made Our Marriage Successful:

We are good forgivers: Let’s be honest, if you’ve been married for a week or 230 of them, you’ve been given the opportunity to forgive your spouse. Forgiveness releases the other person from their offense, but more importantly, it frees you to choose love. And there’s been a lot to forgive in our 942 weeks together, but we are getting good at it.

We fight fair (except when we don’t): Marriage is the perfect breeding ground for arguments. Couples who aren’t occasionally disagreeing, probably aren’t communicating well. It’s not if we fight, it’s when. Further damage occurs in the how. We can literally destroy each other with words. But when we let kindness be our guide, our disagreements actually move us further along in our marriage.

We write each other letters: He gave me this box years ago. He puts letters in it. I write him notes and blog posts and our words find their mark. There’s just something powerful that happens when you write your heart on a page and give it to your mate. “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We work on our friendship: We play hard, we laugh hard, we spend time together (on purpose), we have so many inside jokes it’s not even funny…only really it is. He’s my best friend…the one person in this life I want to be with. We are deeply bound by friendships that comes with communication, communion and care.

We choose to fall in love again (and again): You’ve heard it before–love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s true. We have had irreconcilable differences and breaches of trust and oh, some really hard days, but we’ve decided on love even when we didn’t feel it or couldn’t find it.

It’s really not a secret at all. It’s deciding to fall in love again and again, with the same person.

Enjoy this free 8×10 printable:

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How to Make Sheet Music

He starts his day nearly an hour before mine.

I wake up to the smell of scrambled eggs and find him in the kitchen making the kid’s lunches. He’s already dropped off our oldest at basketball practice and stopped by Chick Fil A for a sweet tea treat.

It’s sitting on the night stand when I reach for my glasses and wonder about my silent alarm.

It’s not even 7 A.M and he started the day making love to me–in the kitchen, doing my chores.

All day long, I think of this gift. His kind words, gentle expressions, his unselfishness–and I can’t wait to give back to him.

Sheet music starts long before you hit the sheets.

It starts with another S-word. One that doesn’t get nearly as much attention. Making sweet music in your marriage starts with service.

It begins with putting your spouse before yourself. Since we’re selfish people by nature, this little S-word doesn’t always come easy. But when we serve our mate, it sets up the perfect atmosphere for a symphony.

Sex doesn’t make a marriage, but the lack of sex and intimacy can certainly break it.

“When sex dies in a marriage, a man loses something very important to him—the knowledge that he can please his wife physically. And a woman loses the satisfaction that she has a man who is enthralled with her beauty.” -Kevin Leman, Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

It’s so much more than just a physical act. There’s a lot at risk when we neglect one another: his confidence as a man and her esteem in herself.

Three practical ways to serve your spouse.

  1. Treat your husband/wife like you would a guest in your home for a day. When we have company over and they ask for water, we don’t sigh and point. We anticipate their needs and bless them by meeting them.
  2. Surprise them by doing something unexpected: show up at work with their favorite lunch, do their chores, add a bit of romance to their day.
  3. Write them a note-tuck it in their drawer or in their glovebox, mail a card to your spouse.

Find simple, sweet ways to serve your spouse. It will be a warmup for some awesome music later.


A Marriage Recycled

I’ve never been a good recycler. I aim high with my recycle bins and fabric grocery totes, but since I’m usually multi-tasking and running behind, I generally remember to recycle after the fact.

It’s just not my ministry. Ya know?

But I love recycled things. Go figure. I’m glad someone is responding to the high calling. I love love love trash to treasure stories.  From Mercy House to my marriage, I’ve learned to view God as the ultimate recycler. He is the master of taking rubbish and redeeming it.

This month my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. I’ve written about our testimony and I’m so thankful He transformed the garbage of our lives into something for His glory. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s evidence of God’s hand.

One of the things I love most about recycling? You get something new. There’s still a trace of the old, but when it goes through the fire, something different, often better is created. After God recycled our marriage, 7 years ago now, we took my engagement ring, wedding band and an anniversary band and had them melted down. The three pieces were beautiful and I loved them, but we both wanted a new ring to represent our new marriage. But my original set was very special and we wanted to keep it.

A local jeweler crafted one new gorgeous ring from the materials of my 3 separate rings. It was the same, but completely different, better, just like my marriage. And that’s exactly what God is able to do in your marriage too.

When my friends over at Union28 sent us their new new shirts, I smiled. I love knowing after all these years my marriage STILL rocks; It’s getting better with age because God is the ultimate recycler.

Want to see my new (old) ring, click here.

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Does your marriage still rock? Get the t-shirt or tote to prove it! Union28 is helping us celebrate 18 years with these awesome new Recycled shirts. Use Code: U28MMSR20 This code is an exclusive offer just for WeAreThatFamily readers!  It’s good for 20% OFF 2 or more Regular-Priced tees & will be valid Thursday & Friday (12/6 & 12/7).


One Hot Marriage, Please

We spent the first 5 years of our marriage surviving-hard jobs, finances, infertility and more. The next 5 years of our marriage we spent struggling-kids, career changes, finances, freedom and forgiveness. Then during the next 5, we discovered our sweet spot.

But the last 3 years? Whoa. Maybe it’s because we decided to live scared, but it took years to unlock the door to hot monogamy, And now that we’ve found the key, we are never going back.

Lean in, I’ll whisper the secret (since this is a family blog and all)…..

:: serve your spouse::

Not what you were thinking, huh?

I think we skip right over serving because it’s sounds so, well, servant-like. But I’m telling y’all, that’s where it’s at.

And by service I don’t only mean, picking up their clothes, running a dreaded errand for them, hushing instead of nagging, surprising them with their favorite drink, having sex when you really don’t feel like it, ETCETERA. I’m also talking about putting aside your own desires, interests and dreams occasionally and helping your spouse pursue theirs.

When my hubby turned 42 in September, the kids and I surprised him with NASCAR race tickets. My hubby has been an avid NASCAR fan since college (go 24!). About a hundred  years ago, when he was considering a career switch from full time ministry, we talked long into the night about direction and the future. When I asked him what he really wanted to do in life, he answered drive NASCAR. He was kidding. Sort of.

So, this past weekend we traveled to the Texas Motor Speedway to watch the race, my first. We got there early because my hubby knew I’d love to add in a visit to a huge flea market nearby. It’s not his favorite thing, but he enjoys that I enjoy it and serves me like that. Rabbit trail: Look at this fun red shelf he carried all the way to the car for me:

and this tin Texas on my wall:

The race was hot and there was a lot of walking. We were surrounded by rednecks galore and the blood alcohol count around us was epic. We blocked out the deafening speedway noise with intercom headsets and we had an awesome time. Do you know what I loved most about being there? Being with my hubby and and sharing something he loves with him. In that crazy, loud place, we fell in love all over again.

On our late night drive home, we held hands and talked about how much fun it was to spend the day with each other. It was fun for our kids to see us enjoying each other’s interests. It’s hard for them to know where he ends and I begin…

We’re one month away from 18 years and I just want a million more.

Unlock the door to the marriage of your dreams by serving your spouse, even when they don’t deserve or return it. God will honor it!


How to Be a Good Husband

Q:

Hi Kristen,

I’m 25, about to get married in June next year and so there is a real curiosity on how to be a good husband. I’ve read a few books already. For Men Only and Christian Husband. I think my fiancee is the most amazing woman in the world and I want to reciprocate that. I guess I’m looking for  from the wife’s perspective.

I hope I’m not being too intrusive. I don’t think guys are supposed to ask girls for advice on how to be a husband.

Thanks for your time,

Billy

A:

Dear Billy,

I love that you asked me this question. I usually tell myself that men don’t read my blog.  But I’m sure you’re not the only one, so I thought I’d write this out loud for the men out there. I’ve never been a husband, but I’m married to a good one. If my husband wrote this list, it would look different, so I’m glad you’re asking from a wife’s perspective. I’m going to tell you what makes my man such a good husband. I think a lot of young men can learn from him.

  1. He listens to me. Looks me in the eye, stops multi-tasking and just quietly listens. I love that about him.
  2. He doesn’t try and fix whatever I tell him. He resists the urge to make it all right and just lets me talk.
  3. He encourages me like no one else. He is my best friend and acts like it.
  4. He believes in my crazy dreams and pushes me to chase them.
  5. He values what I do, even if I don’t get paid for it (being a mom, volunteering, etc)
  6. He recognized years ago that an occasional house cleaner would let me focus on the things only I can do.
  7. He tells me when he’s struggling and let’s me help if I can.
  8. He works hard. I’ve never once doubted he would do whatever he has to in order to provide for our family.
  9. He likes being with me, even if it’s just taking a drive or grocery shopping.
  10. He wants me and pursues me. Enough said.
  11. He dreams big with me. We’ve done some crazy stuff in our marriage. We are a team.
  12. He brings me sweet tea regularly.
  13. He turns off my alarm so I can sleep a little longer.
  14. He serves me on a daily basis.
  15. He doesn’t let me manipulate him. This is big. Because the bad part of me would.
  16. He leads our family.
  17. He picks up his dirty clothes (most of the time).
  18. He trusts me and we are partners in this life.
  19. He prays for me and with me.
  20. He loves God more than he loves me.

I’m just scratching the surface, Billy, but I hope this gives you some direction. Oh and one more thing, I think part of the answer you’re looking for can be found in your question. Don’t ever stop asking it.

Kristen

Do you have any advice for Billy? Please add it in the comments…