Marriage is beautiful beyond words and challenging beyond words at the same time. Love requires sacrifice because love demands faithfulness. With that being said, with the help of my husband and the power of the Holy Spirit, I came up with 7 Essentials of a Happy Marriage:
1. Get Connected to the Source. Always. Marriage is very challenging. Satan never stops wrecking homes. That’s why it is essential for every couple to turn to God for strength. Marriage can be very stressful, especially since temptations are everywhere. Both husband and wife must have their own individual prayer time. It is crucial to listen to God, meditate on His word and apply it in deeds. Our selfish desires and the works of evil are so rampant in our world today. Take time to put aside everything and spend time with God, the ultimate source of true love. My marriage with Brendan has been tested in numerous ways and in varying degrees. There were times I wanted to leave him and times when I suffered severe depression due to homesickness. There were many times that I poured out my frustrations on him, using him as a virtual punching bag for my emotions. If not because of his intimate relationship with God, he would have given up on me.
When I left Philippines and moved here in New Zealand, it seemed like I lost my connection with God. I was so focused with the pain of leaving my family and friends and what I had lost that I didn’t focus on spending time with God the way I used to. When I started making efforts of reconnecting with God, my meltdowns lessened.
Deeply connecting with God also helps you develop virtues that are essential for a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime. When you soak yourself in God's presence always, the more you will be trustworthy, faithful, loving, and forgiving to your spouse. Infidelity is rampant nowadays and it is clearly the work of the evil and human’s selfish desires of the flesh. We are in a generation where sin is portrayed as an art, a generation that seeks fleeting pleasure rather than eternal joy.
It is also through prayer and deep intimacy with God that Brendan and I were able to collaborate on a project. Before we fell in love with each other, we wrote together a book entitled, "Worth the Chase: Finding Love God's Way." It focuses on various topics such as faith, Godly dating, mending a broken heart, chasing after God-given dreams, the beauty of chastity, the power of forgiveness, waiting with God, joy in the midst of pain, and total surrender to God's beautiful and divine plans for our lives. Check it out through this link: www.amazon.com/dp/B00V7IRN2W/
You can also join our growing Facebook page where we post inspirational quotes from our book, blogs, and uplifting posts.
2. Pray Together. Always. Start and end your day with a prayer, as a couple. While it is essential to have your own personal prayer time as I have mentioned above, it is also crucial to pray together as a couple. Brendan and I strive to pray the Divine Mercy prayer daily where we pray for each other and intercede for family, friends, and everyone who has asked for our prayers. We also intercede for those who have lost their way, for those who feel hopeless, the sick, the dying, the unborn children, those who have no one praying for them, those who are leading God’s flock – everything that the Holy Spirit inspires us to pray for.
You might say, “We’re very busy. We don’t have time to pray long prayers.” It doesn’t have to be long prayers. Even blessing your spouse, saying a short, meaningful prayer before your spouse leaves for work does miracles already. We can never underestimate the power of prayer. Every night before going to bed, pray together. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says, “Pray without ceasing.” There is a huge reason behind that. Satan tempts us unceasingly, he is very persistent so we must also be persistent in prayer. How about thanking God together for specific things your spouse has done for you that day? Before heading to bed each night, Brendan and I thank God for at least 10 blessings from Him and also from each other. You can thank your spouse for simple things. You may say, "Thank you for washing the dishes. Thank you for cooking for me. Thank you for taking care of the kids. Thank you for loving me." Think of simple and big things your spouse has done for you during the day.
3. Communicate God’s Way. Always. The reason I added “God’s Way” is because not all forms of communication we do is His way. There were times when I blurted out to Brendan, “You are not like this, you failed in this, you suck in that! You! You! You!” It was all focused on his failures and more poignantly, on my unmet expectations of him. In those times, to me it has to be a blame game where I hold the tag, “victim”. (This usually happens during my extremely unwelcome grumpy monthly friend’s visit.) In Ephesians 4:29 it says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In other words, “Speak words that build life. Another Bible verse that hits me right between the eyes is from 2 Timothy 2:24, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. Note how it says very clearly, “kind to everyone.” [Note from Brendan: including your husband!]
I am a work in progress, I strive to be kind both in words and in deeds. [Note from Brendan: We are both a both work in progress in our marriage.] It is a daily struggle that I go through with the Lord. If you’re also going through the same struggle of being quick in pointing out your spouse’s weaknesses, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you in speaking words that refresh the spirit. Do not keep grudges against your spouse. Forgiveness is very important in marriage. Accept that your spouse is imperfect, thus, making mistakes is inevitable. When you promised your life to your spouse, you made a covenant to love your spouse during the best times and the worst times. This doesn’t mean that you have to love your spouse’s sins. You are called to forgive and encourage your spouse to be better each day. Another thing I want to emphasize here is do not let money, or the lack of it, destroy your marriage. Talk things out in a calm way.
4. Serve One Another In Love. Always. Diving into marriage, my mind-set was, “I was the breadwinner in my family and I’ve always been the one serving. Now, my husband must pamper me.” I felt that I was entitled to be served. Praise be to God for connecting me to couples who have been married for 15-30+ years! They have been living instruments to open my eyes that it should go both ways. I remember having a group discussion with other couples, I shared how I wanted to be served in a certain way. Couples who have been married for long years looked at me smiling. They explained to me gently that they’ve been through similar struggles early in their marriage, that what I was dealing with is normal to newly married couples – the adjustment stage. Since we were single most of our lives before starting to build our lives together, conflicts are inevitable, which includes the struggle of having a heart that is always ready to serve the other. It is important to remember always that we are called to serve one another in love. (See Galatians 5:13)
Speaking of service, we are also called to serve God together as a couple within a Christian community. Joining CFC Couples for Christ is a great start. The growth of CFC stemmed from its heart for mission and evangelization and its commitment to sharing God's love with others, beginning from the basic unit - the family. If you want to know more about how to join CFC, visit this link: https://www.couplesforchristglobal.org/joinus.aspx
Another vibrant and inspirational Christian community that you can join is Bo Sanchez’ Light of Jesus Family or widely known as The Feast. I have been a part of this community for over 5 years now and it has been very influential in deepening my relationship with God. The heart of LOJ is reaching out to every area of our life - spiritual, physical, family, and our financial life.
To know more about Light of Jesus Family, visit this link: http://lightfam.com/index.php/about-us
5. Build Intimacy. Always. Be intimate with your spouse. And I’m not just talking about making love (although we’ll get to that). What I also want to emphasize here is doing simple things that build intimacy. Holding hands for example. It is very simple yet it does wonders. When you hold your spouse’s hands, it’s not only your hands that are connected, but also your hearts. How many of us wanted our hands to be held when we were still in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship? I remember an instance when someone was grinning from ear to ear, telling me, “Oh my God! When my boyfriend held my hands, I felt volts of electricity from his fingers to mine!” And yet now that they’re married, they hardly hold hands. Please don’t let the sparks die. Though it is true that true love is more than sparks, palpitations, and butterflies in the stomach, what’s wrong with being in a giddy twirl caused by someone whom you will be with for the rest of your life? Since time machine has not been invented (and I doubt it will) take the full responsibility of taking your spouse back to the time when both of you first fell in love with each other.
Building intimacy can be as simple as resting your head on your spouse’s shoulder, sitting close to each other, embracing and kissing, or just looking at each other for a couple of minutes – just letting yourselves be lost in each other’s eyes. You might even discover how truly beautiful your spouse’s eyes are. Brendan has hazel eyes so I’m often captivated by the interplay of colors in his eyes. Brendan and I at times relive our first kiss. He teases me saying, “Will you kiss me?” (imitating my sweet, little voice). I burst out laughing, and cheeks blushing red like a ripe strawberry.
Now let’s get to the part you’ve been waiting for – intimacy in bed. Sex is sacred and beautiful because God created and designed it for marital intimacy. We are to put God above anything and at the center of everything – therefore, that includes our sexual relationship as a married couple. With that being said, start praying together before every sacred act of making love. Brendan and I practice this. We pray first, asking God to be at the center of every intimate act. Sex is not about “What can I get.” Sex is of self-giving love and with the purpose of glorifying God. Brendan has written a book on that called “The Catholic Church, Morality and Sex: Theology of the Body.” Check it out through this link: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B01INXKXAW/
Let me also share with you a part of one of the love stories from the Bible that I am really fascinated about and has touched me deeply. It is from Tobit 8:4-9:
“When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray. She got up, and they started to pray. He began with these words:
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself. Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen” and went to bed for the night.
Isn’t that a beautiful prayer? I highlighted the words, “not because of lust, but for a noble purpose” because sex within the covenant of marriage should never be out of lust, it’s not just about satisfying the desires of the flesh but a proclamation of love which is pure, genuine, and lasting.
6. Laugh With Your Spouse. Always. We’ve heard it all the time that “Laughter is the best medicine.” The same is true in marriage. A great way to lessen each other’s burden is to make your spouse laugh, and better yet, laugh together. In one of my grumpiest moments, I told Brendan, “You’re the most annoying person I know!” to which he answered quickly, “Besides yourself?” I couldn’t help but laugh at his pun and his witty come back. We ended up laughing so much. We also have what we like to call, “Fart War”. Yes, there is such a war like that. Brendan and I sometimes keep a tally of how many farts we did in a day (regardless of how loud or deadly they are) and proclaim the winner before the day ends. Some of you may find this gross, but Brendan and I find it really funny and entertaining, especially when we hear each other’s continuous farts which are pants’ ripper! We also have tickle fights. I am ticklish in so many ways which Brendan loves because he delights in tickling me until I could hardly breathe and my stomach hurts from laughing. We noticed that laughter helps ease the tension during misunderstandings. We also believe that laughter is very essential for a successful marriage. Start getting creative in finding ways how to make your spouse laugh. You can start by asking your spouse to recall the funniest moments he encountered in life.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22
7. Date Your Spouse. Regularly. There can be so many reasons why some couples do not go out on dates anymore. Busyness from juggling too many priorities is the most popular reason which seems valid, but not really. When we want to make our marriage work, we have to make time for it. I know that one struggle most couples have is having kids and no one attending to them so going out can be very challenging. Most of my married friends who have kids still go out on dates leaving their parents or a family member or relatives or a friend to attend to their kids. In these cases, their date could only last for an hour or less. I know a couple who have no one to leave their children to so they just find creative ways to still have a date night. While at home, they cook a special meal and set up their dining table as if they were sharing a meal in a restaurant. Talk to your spouse and find out what works best for both of you.
For us newly married couples, we are blessed to have at least more time to plan and go out on dates so we should make the most out of it. Dates don’t have to be expensive. Even walking at a beautiful park, going to the beach or walking in a flower garden is enough to refresh and rekindle your romance. Take time to join marriage retreats where both of you can unwind and enjoy each other’s company while at the same time learn from the experiences of other couples on how they make their marriages strong through the test of time.
When you are financially capable (that is, your family’s well-being is not at stake) explore the world! Travel with your spouse. Traveling when done solo is already rewarding, how much more when done with your spouse whom you want to share your best moments with? A beautiful view is beautiful in itself, but when you share it with your spouse, it will be breath-taking. If your circumstances do not allow you to travel internationally yet, there are places you can go to on a budget. Try to explore beautiful places near you and you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable it can be when you’re with the love of your life!
Share with us your thoughts and your own strategies of keeping your marriage happy and successful on the comment box! We would love to hear your ideas.
God bless! May your marriage continue to flourish by God’s grace!
© Elly Roberts
Elly Roberts is an author, speaker, and artist. She uses her God-given gifts to serve God and His people. Having experienced so much suffering from childhood, she dreams of building a foundation for abandoned kids. She has counseled many women on mending a broken heart and finding love. Her writing style is very personal, honest, humble, and inspiring.
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