Monday, July 15, 2013

14 ways to stay married

This week my husband and I will be celebrating 14 years of marriage. I think, just maybe, we’re starting to figure this whole wedded bliss thing out. It hasn’t always been easy or fun, and I am often reminded that happily ever after is really what you make of it. It’s not effortless to have a good marriage. In fact, it’s downright difficult. The world around us would say that marriage isn’t really that important, that it can be defined however we like it; but the reality is that God invented marriage. It was his idea, and it’s the best place for us to grow up to be more and more like Jesus. It’s also the best place for us Christ followers to show the world what the love of Jesus looks like. That means it’s going to be hard. But it’s worth it. A good marriage is oh-so worth the work and effort. 

As I’ve been thinking of 14 years together I can’t help but think of all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. So here are our 14 lessons, divided up into three easy posts. Because it’s summer and you’re probably off to the pool or something, and this will only take you five minutes to read. You’re welcome.


A lot. And at each other.

Laugh at the silly things your gapped toothed six year old says. At the neighbor’s funny looking dog. Laugh at the fart you accidentally ripped. Just laugh, more than anything marriages need laughter. 

Laugh when you’re trying to have sex early on Saturday morning and are continually interrupted by the kids, and one of you is hiding under the covers stifling laughter while you try to pretend to sleep. Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was right. A cheerful heart is really good medicine. It is true and it keeps you from taking things too seriously. And that’s pretty important. 

Don’t Stress About Date Nights

Of course you need time together. But you also need to pay the mortgage and buy diapers. And then sometimes kids get sick or your schedule goes crazy. It’s in those times that a regular date night seems just as about as rare as Halley’s comet. I used to feel so guilty about not maintaining a regular date night when the kids were little. And then I remember that we were broke and couldn’t afford a sitter anyway. And here we are, 5 years past baby hood, still happily married. There was really enough on our mind as it was, and adding the nagging guilt of not properly dating each other? It could have just about killed us. 

Except it didn’t because we didn’t let it. We were in a season, a crazy busy season with three under three and diapers as far as the eye could see. I could hardly see my way to grocery store, much less steal away with my husband. Even though we were knee deep in diapers we still found time to be together, little moments made all the difference. 

Since we knew that our marriage was going to be around for the long haul then we knew that we’d get to the other side of this craziness. And we did. Now we live in a different sort of crazy. But guess what? We are now having regular dates. Together. Alone. And it wasn’t that we didn’t have time together before, it was sometimes in whispers over the heads of sleeping kids or on dates at the grocery store. The thing is to recognize your seasons, and go with them. And then make time for each other whenever you can. 

Mary Ostyn, author of A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family comments about rare date nights: “what you do with the many ordinary days in between is much more important. Let’s face it, if your life is so frantically busy that you can’t fit in something small like squeezing your hubby’s rear as you run past him on the way to baseball practice or putting the paper down to look [him] in the eyes for two minutes while [he] talks to you, well, then, your whole life needs a little reworking.”

Pray together

It goes without saying. But it’s so often the last thing we do. Statistically though, praying does make a difference in marriage. A Gallop poll showed that the divorce rate for couples in the church and out of the church is close to the same, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. But you’ve heard that prayer changes things? For married couples who regularly pray together, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. It’s a startling difference.

Prayer together is beneficial in many ways. Personally speaking, it brings my husband and me closer together. It gives us the opportunity to hear each other’s heart and struggles, and really see where we are as individuals. And it’s a great way to help meet the needs of your spouse. I can usually feel the tension build around our house if we haven’t been praying together. We daily pray of course, as individuals. But there is something very special about coming to God together. 

Dream with each other

Share your wild crazy “if I won the lottery” thoughts with each other. Make a plan to do something crazy together. Open that business, plan that getaway, dream up your crazy shoot for the moon life plan. Planning for even the long term far away dreams draws you together because it causes you to solidify that you are in fact in it for the long haul. And everyone needs a safe place to dream out loud.

Fake it till you make it

Sometimes we just have to pretend, in the bedroom and outside of it. Marriage constantly asks us to put someone else’s needs ahead of our own. It is the ultimate expression of selflessness. Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing something for our spouse, but our spouse has needs no matter what we feel. We feed our kids every single day because they need it. I don’t stop one day simply because I didn’t feel like it. I’ve never left them at the school pick up spot because I didn’t feel like driving over that day. We do a lot of things in life that we don’t always feel like doing. The trick to doing them successfully is to trick our brains; it’s all in our attitudes. Researcher Carl Charnetski says this: “Most of us think that attitude must change before behavior changes. That’s true, but the inverse works too. If you force yourself to behave in a way that’s out of synch with how you actually feel, your brain won’t long be able to tolerate the incongruity. It’ll change your attitude to come into accordance with your behavior.”

That’s why we fake it form time to time. Don’t feel like being nice? Pretend like you are. Don’t want to be kind? Do it anyway. Your heart will eventually catch up. I promise. This applies to honeymoon time as well. We’ve all been there, sometimes we just don’t want to. That’s when we pull out our inner Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally. I tell myself that this is gonna be great. And guess what? Once we get going it usually works out to be pretty good for the both of us, no pretending necessary. And also I’ve heard from one reliable source that guys really like to hear their wives having a good time. We can thank Meg for showing us how. 


  1. Hey Gina, this is Amanda St. might remember me if you dig back in your memory. My husband is Kevin and we both graduated from EBC and went to Calvary OB during those years. Your husband was the youth pastor...anyways I came across your blog months ago and have loved reading it and seeing how your family/kids have grown! We have two boys and another baby (don't know the gender!!) coming in Oct. Thank you for this post...we are in the baby diaper stage and don't have time or money for date nights and need to get creative on how to stay happily married through this crazy busy season of life!! You're words are very encouraging and life giving...just wanted to say thank you. I love the way you express yourself, very real and genuine..I love your style in your home and I love how you guys parent your kids!!! Thanks for opening yourself up on your blog to teach and disciple us other moms and wives out there!!!

    1. Hi Amanda! I do remember you guys, and I'm so glad that you're doing well. Congratulations on your growing family. I know you've probably heard it hundreds of time, but enjoy it. Be in the moments, I do miss those diaper stages and wish I would have been more present during them-even when I wanted to tear my hair out!

      Thank you for your kind comment, I appreciate you taking the time to read my words!

      Blessings to you and Kevin!

  2. Do you know where to find that Gallup poll on prayer/divorce rates? I can't find it anywhere, I'd love to read it...thanks!

  3. Hi Gina!
    Great posts on marriage I'm high fiving you on every point! Happy 14th (a few weeks ago).


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