Only last week we were “traipsing around tropical islands like a couple of lovestruck teenagers.”
Or at least that’s how our 19-year-old daughter described us.
On social media, no less.
A bit embarrassing, out there for all the world to see.
My husband encouraged me by reminding me it could be worse. A lot worse.
And he’s right, of course.
He and I were on a romantic holiday to celebrate our 25th anniversary and it was rather lovely. No kids. Just us. For ten warm and wonderful days.
Okay, so maybe we were a little lovestruck.
One nice thing about getting away for an extended period of time — in addition to the rest and reconnection — is the advantage of perspective. When you’re in the middle of your marriage, it’s not always easy to see that clearly if you know what I mean? Especially if life is continually coming at you and you’ve hardly had room to breathe.
Then suddenly it’s the two of you. WIthout the usual rushing or noise and it’s almost weird for the first day or two.
But then . . . then your relationship is out there in the glaring sun and you get to see what you’ve really got.
So that’s what got me to thinking. What are some of those things that make the difference between an “okay relationship” and a really beautiful one? How do you get past “functional” and find yourselves more in love than ever?
Where does lovestruck start when you’re looking for the long-term?
7 Things to Make Your Marriage Better Than Ever
1. Practice being positive.
Negativity can be one of those things that you’re not even aware of (most people aren’t), so you might want to ask a close friend or your spouse (if you’re brave enough) if this is something you could work on. Develop the good habit of seeing the good in things. You’d be amazed what a difference it makes — not only in your own life but in everyone around you — and what a huge impact it can have on your marriage.
2. Accept who he is as a person.
This doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t grow, but genuinely embrace the person he is…rather than the one you secretly (or not so secretly?) want him to be. And I’m not talking about outright sin here, simply the unique personality you see before you. For instance, I tend to be a patient incrementalist while my husband has two speeds: slow and very fast. I’ve had chronic whiplash for our entire marriage! That’s just how he’s made.
3. Focus on his strengths more than his annoyances.
This one is closely related to the one above. Rather than obsessing over his erratic pace (in my case), I can enjoy the adventure that comes with living with a man who’s always full of surprises. When I feel frustration over his own approach to life, I try to remember all the special things about him: his faithfulness, his fun, and his devotion to God, me, and our family (see #1). Honestly, if you have to, sit down and write a list of all his best qualities! Refer to it now and then so you don’t forget.
4. Keep up the touch.
I’m telling you, touch is like magic. Walk by him and give him that loving caress. Rub his shoulders, lean into him, or quietly linger on his arm. Sometimes there’ll be tension between us and I’ll gently reach for him and, even in the middle of an unresolved issue, this touch can thaw the chill. Only yesterday I saw this elderly couple (they had to be 90!) walking arm-in-arm and I nearly swooned off the road. So sweet!!
5. Decide to be agreeable.
Funny how easy it is to be argumentative. He wants tacos and you want sushi and suddenly it’s “something to be worked out.” I’m not saying “always give in” or “never express yourself” (if you’ve read other stuff by me, you’d know that!). But I honestly believe that we can be fonder of holding our ground than we need to be. Or even should be. Who doesn’t enjoy being around someone who is generally agreeable? I have a few girlfriends who are like that and I tell my husband, “They’re just so…easy to hang out with.” Well, I want to be that girl.
6. Remember to laugh together.
I don’t know about you, but life is harder than we ever imagined it would be. Caring for our special needs daughter who suffered a stroke. Losing his mom to Alzheimer’s. Disappointment, betrayal, and hurt. And yet the more we walk through, the more we realize that it’s helpful for us to see the lighter side of life too. You wouldn’t believe how long our list of “private jokes” has grown! I still laugh at his humor . . . and remind him to laugh at mine. 😉
7. Commit to becoming a quick forgiver.
He used to describe me as a slow forgiver. And it’s true. I tended to hold on to offenses before letting go. Often a long while. And he’d ask me, “Why do you waste so much of the time we could be enjoying each other by clinging to the grudge?” Not sure why. I guess I didn’t want him to feel like he “got off too easy.” But we both lost on that deal.
The older we get, the more I realize how precious is the life we have together and how you never know what tomorrow holds. So yeah, let’s not waste a minute of it by being unwilling to move on once the matter has been addressed. *
So even if you’re not traipsing around tropical islands right now, I hope you can make your marriage better than ever.
Leaning toward lovestruck in your own way.