17 Great Pieces of Marriage Advice

17 Great Pieces of Marriage Advice

When it comes to advice on marriage, there are a whole lot of opinions out there. Some of them are valuable, but some, perhaps not so much. As marriage counselors, especially Christian ones, we definitely have our own thoughts on advice for your marriage, but for this compilation, we looked to our Expedition Marriage family over on Instagram and asked them what the best advice they received for their marriage was. 

And let me tell you—they had some FABULOUS words of wisdom to share.

Best Advice for your Marriage

Now, if you’re interested to know what our best advice for married couples is, it’s this…

Don’t give up! Decide right from the beginning to have an “all in” marriage.

When struggles come up, when disappointments happen, and when you both grow and change, decide to always lean in and work it out.

Never run from your struggles, instead, allow God to use them to shape you, to encourage one another, and to grow you.

You can pick and choose from all of this advice along the journey of marriage, but the thing that will always matter the most is your refusal to quit.

3 Things to do When your Marriage is Struggling

3 Things to do When your Marriage is Struggling

When my husband and I first got married we sure did have a lot to learn. I was a tad bit controlling and a bit of a yeller. He on the other hand was the opposite—a pleaser to the max! This was not a great combination to have in a disagreement. I would rant and yell and he would quietly withhold until he just couldn’t anymore, and then before you knew it, we were two explosive nuts!

Our fights got painful fast—I didn’t have self-control and would say all kinds of harsh things and he would eventually just go for the jugular with one big hurtful comment in an effort to just stop the fight.

Sounds delightful, right?

Well it wasn’t.

After many years of marriage and after becoming new believers in Jesus, we decided it was time for a change. Our marriage wasn’t fulfilling to either one of us and we certainly weren’t helping one another grow.

That’s when we decided to do apply these three principles to our marriage.

Three things to do when your marriage is struggling.

1. Remember that you’re on the same team. The Enemy is so quick to jump in and make you believe that your spouse is your enemy—that they are against you and not for you. He is also quick to try and get you to think the same thing about them. This simply isn’t true. When you’re struggling as a couple it’s usually because you’re each dealing with some form of hurt, fear or frustration and NOT because you are against one another and intentionally trying to inflict pain.

Develop a mindset that it is the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other. Remember, your enemy cannot be your spouse because it is not flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12).

2. Get a PhD in your spouse’s upbringing. There is no doubt that the way both of you respond under pressure is a result of what you were taught and what your normal is. If your spouse came from a home with lots of yelling, yelling will be a trigger. If they came from a home where all problems get swept under the rug, then it’s likely they won’t have the best conflict resolution skills.

When it comes to your spouse’s history, know it well. Seek to understand all the ways your spouse was shaped and molded—because it matters. It’s almost a guarantee that your spouse’s negative reactions come from a place of self-protection. Understanding that helps, and so does letting them know that they don’t need to protect themselves from you because you’re on their side.

3. Keep the memories of how you won each other’s heart alive. When you’re in the middle of the struggle it’s really hard to look for the good. The hard and the heavy yell at

you much louder demanding all the attention, when really what’s most helpful is to keep your focus on all that’s good while working out the hard.

When your marriage is in a tough place, take a look back. Remember those traits your spouse has that you once adored, remember the person you fell in love with. Although life is hard and people change, that person you once completely adored is still in there.

Marriage can be a challenge at times and hard things happen, but when they do be sure to remind your spouse that you’re in this with them, that you’re for them, and that you love them.

And lastly, pray. Never stop praying.

Ep. 16 Expectations & Assumptions (part 3 of Communication Killers & their Kryptonite)

Do you struggle with unmet expectations in your marriage? They sure are a funny thing, aren’t they? By now, you’d think we’ve all learned what expectations and assumptions get us—a whole lot of disappointment and frustration, and yet we still tend to have them.

 

On this final episode of the Communication Killers & their Kryptonite we discussed the deeper problems with Expectations and Assumptions, and shared how to navigate your way out of them.

 

The first struggle with expectations and assumptions is when we expect or assume these three things:

 

1. For your spouse to have common sense. Truly, common sense just isn’t a thing. It really feels as if it should be, however we can’t share common sense when we don’t share common experiences, upbringings, pains or traumas.

 

2. For your spouse to know what you need. You must communicate exactly what it is you want if you want a need met. Making vague or even frustrated statements does not express a need and quite often your spouse won’t hear what it is you’re asking for.

 

3. For you and your spouse to share communication styles. People share and receive things differently; your spouse is no different. Learning to understand if your spouse is concrete or non-concrete, or perhaps contemplative or non-contemplative, which help out your communication game greatly.

 

Stay tuned for the next episode where we’ll be talking all about sex! Just in time for Valentines Day!

 

Quotes from the episode:

 

“Common sense isn’t all that common because we didn’t all share common experiences.”

“The trash is full” does not mean “please take out the trash right now.” Ask for wat you need.”

 
 

Verses:

 

1 Peter 3:8 NIV

5 Ways to Boost your Marriage

5 Ways to Boost your Marriage

Many years ago, when I was a stay at home mom raising three little girls, it was safe to say that I was tired, busy and distracted. At the end of the day when my husband came home it was game on! You know the game, it’s called “Tag! You’re it!”

Let’s just say that one of us liked to play more than the other.

The problem was that I was drained, but the bigger problem was that my husband was, too. Truthfully, it’s not uncommon for couples to get into the “let me tell you why my job is harder” battle. But really, you’re both entitled to claim hard work, so that battle is very unnecessary.

Those were hard days during our marriage because we were both pouring out into other areas and people so much that we barely had anything left for one another. We were also silly to think that it would all be miraculously better once the girls got bigger. Ha, jokes on us. In married life, the red carpet of time and energy is never rolled out for you.

BUT—that’s okay, because we all have brief moments and even those brief moments add up. In fact, any investment you make in your marriage pays back in dividends. 

Here are some sure-fire ways to give your marriage the boost that it needs.

5 things you can do to re-connect in your marriage

1. Talk to your spouse. 

Greet them when you see each other again after time apart. Ask open ended questions about their day. Ask them about their highs or lows of the day. Give them a chance to share and vent to you. Let them know you’re interested in hearing from them.

2. Enjoy something pleasurable together

No, not that—but also, yes, that. It’s just not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about sitting down and sharing some dessert, playing a quick game, drinking some tea on the porch together, or watching a half hour comedy. Take small pockets of time and find some fun.

3. Set your mind on them.

You may not have an abundance of time, but you have 10 minutes a day. Take a moment and spend those minutes intentionally thinking about your spouse. What is it you love about them, what are thing as you want to do in the future with them? Remember what your dreams and goals are as a couple. Thoughts are powerful, make sure you’re using some of them on your spouse. 

4. Be sacrificial. 

Jesus could have modeled love for us any way he wanted, however, the path God chose was through sacrifice. His sacrifice on the cross is what declared His love for us. The least we can do in our marriage for the one He gave us is to give them our time, our patience, and some extra above and beyond effort by doing something that can make their day, their tasks, their stress a little bit lighter.   

5. Be attentive to their needs.

We know you have needs as a spouse too, but what we also know is that your needs are more likely to get met when you’re willing to meet your spouse’s needs. Now, that’s not the reason to pay attention to their needs, it’s just a good byproduct of doing so. 

Lean in and ask your spouse if they need anything. Ask them how they’re feeling, if they’re ok or if they have any stressors going on. Everyone wants to be checked in on and cared about. 

Ultimately, your marriage will go through hills and valleys seasons, and that’s just the reality of life. If you’re ready to really start boosting your marriage go get our free 10 Day, Just Because I Love You Challenge.

Ep. 6: Keeping Love Alive

Today we’re shooting from the hip, going off the cuff, or whatever else you call it when we just decide to hit record and share some real conversations that take place in our marriage.

 

We’re asking each other a specific question, “What do you think we do that keeps our alive?” Tune in to hear our individual answers, and then keep listening to find out what we both agree are the things that will do the opposite and kill your love.

 

To get the free handout Keeping Love Alive mentioned in the podcast, you can get it at https://www.expeditionmarriage.org/keepinglovealive

 

As always, we would love for you to share this with your spouse and friends. 

Quotes:

“Knowing these things has given us each a better understanding of each other and what is important to each of us.”

 

“Constantly being grateful for all that you do makes loving you so easy.”

 

“Real communication is being able to tell one another everything, how we feel, what we need and what’s hurting us, all while feeling safe and secure.”

Honey, Let Me Tell You Why I Want a Date Night

Honey, Let Me Tell You Why I Want a Date Night

Honey, I know it’s been a while since we’ve had a date night. I’m tired, you’re tired, it’s too expensive, and we don’t have any time. I know all of these things are true, but yet I desperately want a date night anyway. Let me tell you why…

When we go out it gives me an opportunity to remember who you are and appreciate who you’re becoming. Who we are becoming together. These are things we can only know by communicating, actually having uninterrupted time talking together. We’re both always evolving and I don’t want to miss that. I want to know what’s going on in your life. How you think and feel matters to me. 

I also love us after we’ve experienced a date night. It increases the quality of our relationship. I feel loved and valued, and my love and value for you increases too. We’re a better us when we take time away together. Besides, sometimes I just really miss you and I don’t like that. I wan’t another date night with you. 

Spending time, just the two of us, reminds me that I am a priority to you and it helps me keep you a priority to me. I don’t want to just wish we had time together. I want to make that time of investment in you because you matter to me. When we go on dates I am reminded of our commitment and dedication to each other. I am reminded that you will always have my back and I yours. I really want a date night with you.

Honey, I want a date night with you because you make me come alive. Time alone with you makes me desire you in all the ways, physically, emotionally and mentally. It keeps the element of surprise in our marriage. It brings to the surface the fun and playful side of us that I love so much. 

Lastly, dating you makes me remember all the many things I love about you and why I married you in the first place. So, how about it, you up for a date?

Love,

Me 

3 Marital Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

3 Marital Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

Marriage is a journey. A journey that can be a beautiful ride, and a journey that can also get a little bumpy. You don’t even need to do anything different than you normally do, and all of a sudden you’re off roading and tightening up your seat belts. Why is that? 

Well, because…LIFE.

Life just happens sometimes, and you have no control over that. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the times when you do have some control. No matter what life decides to do, you will always have choices in your marriage, and we want to help you choose the smooth road over the bumpy, pot hole filled one, whenever possible. 

Here are 3 cautionary signs to look out for as you travel this journey together. These are your signals that it’s time to be on guard and prepared to make good choices, instead of mistakes.

Demanding problems. Problems are loud, and they are always seeking center stage. It’s necessary that they get the attention they need, but they also don’t need as much attention as they demand. When they come up, you must intentionally choose to identify the problem and then be sure to give more of your time to finding a solution instead of fixating on the problem. 

Be willing to identify the problem without getting stuck on the symptoms, and then take the next step of formulating a solution. Take the time to agree now that you will be a solutions focused couple, instead of a problem catastrophizing one. Work together as a team. Don’t make the mistake of allowing it to be you two amidst a problem and against each other, but instead, let it be you two against the problem..

If only. There’s a big appeal to comparison nowadays. We’re all aware of social media and the good and bad that it brings with it. Be cautious over feelings of “if only”. If only we were like, “the Jones””, “if only” we had a vacation home, or “if only” my spouse planned a vacation for us. Falling prey to the “if only’s” is like getting stuck in a roundabout. You will never arrive as long as the target is not your destination, and as long as it’s constantly moving. Stay in your lane and on your path as a couple. Let everyone else do their own thing. Their journey is different than yours, and that’s exactly how it should be.

Hurrying. When you feel like things are taking too long to get better, keep in mind that change takes time. Your marriage will always be a work in progress. Don’t get caught up in thinking that 2 steps forward, one step backwards is a bad thing. Give each other grace and time to make adjustments, to meet goals or to learn new things. Give your problems time to be repaired. Most things in your marriage won’t be immediate. That’s ok. Don’t rush change and don’t give up because it’s not happening fast enough. 

All things said and done, if you want to keep moving forward in your marriage, especially during the hard times, be prepared and solution focused for the hard times, keep jealousy and envy at bay, and add lots of patience and grace for one another. Don’t let discouragement take over. 

Marriage is a wonderful journey and it’s meant to be filled with all the things; love, patience, frustration, refining, redemption, joy, goodness, all of it. Take your time in it. Savor the ride and keep growing it and building it. Make good choices for your marriage.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9

Enjoy the Journey!

2 Simple Things For A Strong Marriage

2 Simple Things For A Strong Marriage

There aren’t really any big secrets about having a strong and satisfying marriage.  It’s not a matter of luck, and it’s most certainly not a matter of being married to the right person. There are however, a couple of things that might help. 

It turns out that the couples who report the greatest satisfaction in their marriage share certain things in common, specifically these two “simple” things. 

1. They spend time together.  Shocking, I know, but you’d be surprised (unless your marriage is one of these) how many couples don’t spend much time together. The successful couples are intentional about making time together, and they protect that time. 

It’s important to know that when we say spending time, we mean quality time, and quite honestly, quality time often comes from quantity time. You can’t just make quality time happen in the 5 minutes you have to spare for each other. Sure, you can be intentional in those few minutes, but overall, it just needs to be more than that. Leftover time to collapse at the end of the day doesn’t really count! 

2. They touch each other… a lot… and often. We’re not talking about big public displays of affection, or even having to hold hands everywhere they go.  We’re talking sweet, affectionate, reassuring touch. The kind of touch that is comforting and connecting. The kind of touching that reminds us that we are safe and connected, even on bad days. This may be the quick squeezing of the shoulders after a long day at work, a hand on the small of her back while out in public or at home, or the running of your fingers briefly through each others hair as you pass by. Those brief tender touches can go a long way.

Now, we realize that these may seem to be two simple things, but they may not be as simple to execute. After all, you’re busy and you’re often disconnected as a couple, trying  to get from one point to the next all day long. At the end of the day, you’re just two tired people who have been running around all day pouring yourselves out. It is for that very reason why these two simple things need to become a priority. 

Left unattended, life will begin to steal from you as a couple. It will keep rushing forward unless you pull back the reins and slow it down. No one intentionally sets out to be too busy, it just happens, unless you don’t allow it to.

Going forward, as you move about your day, take the time to pause and evaluate. If these two things seem impossible, can we suggest that might be a clue that you need to pull back the reins somewhere. It might be time for a schedule change, a child’s activity to be dropped, or hours at the office to be pulled back, if possible. 

Life is hard, busy and often draining, but what makes it even harder, is going through it alone. Take the time and invest the time and the touch in your marriage. Marriage is a journey meant to be enjoyed together!

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5 Reasons to Focus on Yourself in a Struggling Marriage

5 Reasons to Focus on Yourself in a Struggling Marriage

Let’s just get right down to it–marriage is hard. Fortunately, it can also be blissful, filled with love, and one of the most gratifying relationships in your life. But, then again, it’s still hard. The worst thing is, we often make it that way ourselves. We enter into this thing called marriage with these great expectations; we expect the “feelings” of love to always be present, and we expect that our spouse will always meet all of our needs and make us never want for anything again. We have found our soul mate  and they will complete us. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that theory? Pure bliss. 

Well, if you’ve been married for even a short time, I’m sure you quickly realized how flawed this belief system is, and you’ve probably also noticed how flawed your spouse is too. What you probably don’t notice however, is how flawed YOU are. I know, OUCH! Sorry about that one (well, sort of). Don’t worry, the pain is purposeful, keep reading…

If you’re struggling in your marriage, or even if you’re not, it is crucial that you pay attention to yourself first. Let me tell you the 5 reasons why.

1) Looking at and evaluating yourself first increases your humility.

So, what’s the big deal about that? For starters, humility shows your spouse you are willing to bear with them in love (Eph 4:2). Humility lets your spouse know they are important, and that you are willing to sacrifice for them (Phil 2:3). Humility comes with wisdom, (Prov 11:2) and it increases harmony in your relationships (Rom 12:16). Most importantly, humility offers honor to God, and shows that you are willing to trust Him IN and WITH your marriage (Prov 22:4).

2)  Focusing on yourself will help you become a better person.

Even if your spouse never does correct their own behavior or take ownership of their part of the problem, you can still become a better person. You will never regret working on yourself. Go ahead and take an honest look at yourself, your behaviors, your words, and your thoughts. Ask yourself what you are contributing to the problem, and then pray about it. Ask for God’s guidance, and then get to work on those things. If you begin to change for the better, it’s almost guaranteed that your spouse will take notice, and perhaps even be inspired by you to start changing themselves.

3) It shows your spouse grace, and who doesn’t love that?

If your spouse has an annoying habit or a poor behavior they struggle with, it’s likely that other people have pointed it out to them already (mom and dad may have for years!). You pointing it out for the hundredth time is not going to be the magic number where they receive an aha moment and suddenly change. It’s also likely that your spouse already hates this habit or behavior themselves, but, for whatever reason, struggles to let it go or, perhaps is afraid to. Your grace could be the very safety that they need to come to you or to the Lord for help with it. Focusing on you allows quiet time from all of the fighting and permits grace to enter in. Extending the grace that God gave you to your spouse, is after all, God’s design (1 Pet 4:10).

4) It helps you set boundaries.

When you focus on yourself, you decide what is acceptable and what is not. Perhaps, if your spouse is involved in an affair, an addictive behavior, or even speaks to you inappropriately, that is not the best time to extend grace, but nor is it the time to blow up. Instead, it is the time to decide if those behaviors are okay with you or not, and then set boundaries or make appropriate next steps. You have to focus on yourself in order to do this, or else you will continuously respond out of your emotions and keep all the focus on them, and in turn get absolutely nowhere. Even the worst case scenarios can be healed when handled correctly AND when repentance is present (<< This is a MUST!). Sometimes, focusing on yourself means you have to quit acting like a doormat. This might be the area where professional or pastoral help is needed. If it is, GET IT!

5)  It helps you to know that YOU CAN’T CONTROL YOUR SPOUSE.

Quit trying to fix someone else, it is not your job, and, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you already know you’re not any good at it! Just work on you, and leave room for God to work on them. You can only control your responses. You can’t control what others do, say or feel. Remember though, you can put up boundaries, but ultimately, the only person you can change is yourself!

The final word is this, no matter what troubles are brewing in your marriage or what problems are already there, your marriage is never without hope. Before you throw in the towel, do it some justice, and get the help you need before it’s too late. Don’t let problems linger, address them before they take root and start growing. 

Here’s to Enjoying the Journey!

Back to the Basics

Back to the Basics

Back is not the direction we usually want to head in, but sometimes it is only in moving backwards that we can begin to move forward.

It’s that age old adage that we have to learn to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can run. It’s the crawling that builds the muscles and gives us necessary strength for the next step, literally. 

There’s a proper order to things, and if we skip over something as foundational as building muscle strength before we start off on a journey, we might find ourselves in some trouble, and perhaps falling a bit more than we normally would. The same is true if we were to run a race without practicing or training. We might survive it, but it will likely not be a new personal record, and we will also more than likely pull a hamstring. This is true in our physical world as much as it is in our emotional and relational worlds too.

In our marriages, we always want to keep practicing, and we don’t ever want to feel as if we have arrived at mastery. Mastery is one of those things that we will never achieve this side of heaven. Especially over something that is constantly changing, like a marital relationship. Let’s face it, we’re all vulnerable to failure and to making mistakes. Mistakingly believing that we have reached mastery can breed not only arrogance, but also complacency.  Achieving mastery, fools us into thinking we need not do any more work because we have arrived. It is in that moment that we let our guards down and become vulnerable. 

If you want to revamp your marriage, or if you need to get back on course, take the time today to go back to the basics. Go back to the fundamental place in your marriage where it all once began, the sharing of your vows. Whether you wrote your own or used traditional ones, pull them out, re-read them. You now have experience in your marriage  that gives you a new lens to view your vows from. When you originally promised them to one another I’m sure you believed they would come with ease, but I’m betting your “experience” now tells you otherwise. There may even be some that you haven’t been putting into practice for a while.

Take the time to read those words that you declared and promised to your spouse in the sight of God, your family and your friends. (You can even google some vows for a reference.) As you do, ask yourselves and one another these questions…

What exactly was it that we promised to each other?

What did we each say that we, as individuals would do and how am I, and how are we, living up to it?

What kind of spouse did I say I was going to be, and to what ends?

Do I still mean and take action on these things today, or does our marriage need help? Honestly.

Are we willing to return to the basics of loving one another as we once declared?

In light of our vows, what is at least one practical thing we can begin to change?

It’s probably been a while since most of you said those vows. I’m sure you’ve realized that time, circumstances and aging, changes people. Some of that change is good and some, perhaps not so good, but regardless, change doesn’t release us from our covenants. 

Take an honest look back, reboot those fundamental promises in your marriage. Make a realistic plan for getting back to the basics with your spouse. Even if you choose one thing to change, that’s a great start in the right direction. Honor that covenant you made to your spouse and to God. You won’t regret it!

Every once in a while it’s good to restart your journey!