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 Joyful Marriage:
1. Get Connected to the Source. Always. Marriage is very challenging. Satan never stops wrecking homes; that is 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 live it. 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; times when I suffered severe depression due to homesickness. There were many times when I dumped my frustrations to him; used him as a virtual punching bag for my negative emotions. If not for his intimate relationship with God, he would have given up on me.
When I left the Philippines and moved here in New Zealand, it seemed that I lost my connection with God. I was so focused with the pain of leaving my family and friends and the sacrifices I had to make that I pushed aside spending quality time with God the way I used to. When I started making efforts of reconnecting with God, my sorrows turned into joy. It is possible to remain joyful even amidst challenges, because God alone is the true source of joy.
Deeply connecting with God will help us in developing virtues that are essential for a joyful marriage that lasts a lifetime. The more we soak ourselves in God's presence, the more we become trustworthy, faithful, loving, and forgiving to our 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.
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. It can be as simple as saying, "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 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 which pierced my heart 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 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 can 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 serving must be mutual. 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 on 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)
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 do not 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? Take your spouse back to the time when both of you first fell in love with each other. Relive those memories that make your heart flutter.
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. And don't forget the power of communication. Your spouse is your best friend, the one whom you spend the most time with. Talk about matters that are close to your heart. I don't know about you, but I feel the most intimate with my husband when we talk about things only he and I share with, conversations about our deepest dreams and desires, the lessons we learned from our challenges, the ups and downs in our marriage, and the beautiful memories we shared together from the first time we met and the beautiful moments we share together now.
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. 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, a competition of who has the loudest and the deadliest farts. Brendan often wins this war! haha
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. You can also enjoy playing games together. Brendan and I sometimes play charades wherein one thinks of a word and acts it out while the other guesses it. We watch funny videos together. We imagine Jesus being with us, laughing with us and that makes the experience even more beautiful. Invite Jesus in all that you do as a couple.
“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. It could be challenging to go out on dates when there are kids to look after. 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 would 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.
Explore different places together! 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 more 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!
It is through the power of prayer and deep intimacy with God that Brendan and I were able to collaborate on a project; our first spiritual baby. 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: www.facebook.com/worthchase
© 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 finds delight in helping women see their true worth in God's eyes.
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FINDING LOVE GOD'S WAY
Prayers from the Heart
How Do I Surrender The Pain In My Heart?
A Letter to my Future Husband
What Is True Love?
Are You Still Waiting For God's Promise?
Forgiveness Leads To Life
7 Essentials to a Joyful Marriage
The Art of Waiting
How To Melt The Heart Of A Grumpy Spouse
The Art Of Letting Go
Your True Worth
Gratefulness For Moments of Grace
Heartaches Are Blessings
God's Faithfulness Behind My Proposal
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Are Virgin Men Going Extinct?
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The Gift Of Suffering
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