5 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage


God and internet dating brought us together…

But staying together and living out the happily-ever-after requires a purposeful choice to nurture our marriage. The past three and a half years have afforded us with ample opportunity to grow in and through our marriage. Some of the ways we have learned to enhance our marriage are:

  1. Pray together. This is something we have recently started doing on a daily basis and it has drawn us together, alleviated conflicts and created such a sweet intimacy. Each morning we start the day asking God to direct our day and at night before we go to sleep, we pray for each other.
  2. Take time to be with each other. Besides taking time to pray, we find that having a weekly date night keeps our relationship fresh and alive. Couples need time to simply be with each other enjoying each other’s company, talking, laughing and being friends. This is not a time to talk about the kids, but a time to connect and remember why we wanted to be married in the first place. Brendan and I still send Skype messages to each other throughout the day whether he’s away at the office or downstairs working. It reminds us of our dating via Skype and keeps us connected. We also set aside an hour each week to read and discuss a book on marriage. We recently attended The Marriage Course and are currently reading Love and War.
  3. Have fun. We have found that the best way to reignite the spark in our marriage is to have a good time together. This may be on a date night playing pool, or enjoying a game of Sudoku together or even having a good tickle fight. Laughing together  releases tension and resets our attitude toward life and toward each other. The Bible says that laughter is good medicine. We’ve found it to be the best.
  4. Think the best about each other. Often it’s easy to assume our spouse is thinking or meaning something by their words that they aren’t which leads to misunderstandings and disagreements. We are learning to assume the best rather than the worst. If in doubt, ask kindly. Most often what we felt hurt or offended by was a whispered lie to our heart from the enemy of our soul.
  5. Make love well and often. When God created us, he created male and female in his image and said man and wife should cleave to each other. That physical union wasn’t only to pro-create or bring pleasure (although aren’t we glad it does?); it was intended as a melding of two spirits, souls and bodies into one. To intimately share ourselves with our spouse in the way God designed is actually an act of worship and a renewed pledge to our spouse. In addition, it slams the devil (who seeks to divide and destroy us) in the face with a “take that!”

Brendan and I still have much to learn about each other and about marriage, but every day we are more in love and grateful for this incredible life together. The more regularly we apply these tools to our relationship, the more we grow as individuals and as a couple. We’re thankful God brought us together through an online dating site from two continents apart, but we are even more appreciative of the methods he’s given us to keep our marriage alive and exciting. Give it a try! Your marriage is worth it.

What are some ways you enhance your marriage? Have you read any good marriage books lately? What type of fun do you enjoy together?

 

Deadly Expectations


Our first night out (alone) in Australia.

Brendan, ever the gentleman, held open the door of the building. We had agreed to walk because we were close to numerous restaurants.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked.

“Uh, well….since I don’t know any places here or really where we are, I’m not sure.”

I admit I felt a little disappointed at his lack of planning. It’s not like I could offer any ideas either since I knew nothing about the area.

“Well, what do you feel like eating?”

“Maybe we can start walking and see if something appeals to us?” I suggested.

We wandered down the street, my stomach starting to growl because it was nearly 8 p.m. After considering a few places, we settled on a cozy Italian establishment that offered warm, gentle lighting and renaissance walls. I figured we couldn’t go wrong with Italian cuisine. How wrong I was!

Brendan had to ask for menus, napkins, silverware, and water which were brought one item at a time (yes, even each fork, knife and spoon). After a mediocre meal, we decided to fore-go dessert. We couldn’t seem to attract the attention of anyone who looked remotely prepared to bring us a dessert menu or take our order. While we waited for the check, our first disagreement erupted and smoldered.

I had expected to be swept off my feet.

The sweeping would happen as a result of a perfectly planned evening (by Brendan) at an accommodating restaurant where dinner would taste divine, and we would share a delectable dessert over fascinating conversation. Then perhaps more romantic wooing with a stroll down the beach holding hands and sharing our dreams for the future. The strolling, of course, would be punctuated with a few well-timed kisses. Finally, he would escort me home with gallant intentions to protect my honor by restraining himself at the door with a lingering gaze and a kiss just passionate enough to leave us satisfied yet wanting.  I would then proceed to drift off to sleep with dreams of the enchanting night we shared on our first night out alone.

The evening wasn’t unfolding as I planned in my mind.

I did attempt gracious acceptance since I loved Brendan and was happy to be with him, but I began to feel increasingly disappointed. My grand expectations and hopes for our wonderful evening out together dictated my emotions so when Brendan made a comment and I disagreed what resulted was a defensive standoff that had no place in my plans for the previously mentioned romance. Naturally, the disagreement added to my frustration.

I don’t remember even a hint of what we argued about.

Part of the problem was the expectations I had regarding our date. The evening needed to look a particular way in order for me to be content. Flexibility wasn’t the issue. We didn’t have to eat at a particular restaurant or order something specific. I wasn’t looking for precise words or actions, but in my heart I had unknowingly set up a scenario that required adherence to (at least) the most general of details. And, I expected Brendan to telepathically pick up on my disappointment, apologize sincerely and fix it. Except that I didn’t even know that’s what I was thinking.

I realize now that expectations like that can be deadly.

The best thing to do is communicate. My fear of hurting Brendan’s feelings or sounding like a demanding shrew kept me silently scrambling to figure out everything in my head. But if I had shared what I was struggling with, we could have worked things out. Maybe we would have argued, but probably we would have ended up laughing over it all.

Love covers over so many things and makes a place for us to share what’s in our hearts—both the good and the bad. Fear keeps us trapped while we question our desires and the other person’s motives. Fear made me judge Brendan’s lack of planning and foresight and offered me the conclusion that it revealed a lack of care for me. I didn’t realize all of that at the time, but I did want to put aside whatever it was in me that was creating discontent.

In order to salvage what I thought was a ruined evening; I suggested a walk on the beach in the moonlight…

Have you ever been disappointed when your expectations weren’t met? How did you handle it?