Three Steps Toward a Happy Marriage

sselephantsDuring the early years of our marriage, my husband and I had to learn to work with each other. We also had to learn how to communicate. It wasn’t always easy. I mentioned in my last post that since divorce was not an option we could either learn to live together for life as two miserable individuals or we could work hard to learn how to have a happy marriage.

Today I’m going to share a few steps my husband and I took to build a happy marriage.

1. Don’t give up!

First, we did not give up. This is very important. We may have had moments where we felt like giving up.

“He won’t listen to me!”

“She isn’t paying attention!”

“What is so hard about putting away a simple dish?”

“Why won’t he take out the trash?”

These were all questions we internalized. It would have been pretty easy to keep all those problems internal and not even try to communicate. Neither of us like conflict. If we kept our feelings pent up inside then we wouldn’t have to risk making the other person angry.

But by giving up, are we the only ones truly affected? Will the feelings that I think is being kept on the inside really not affect my relationship with my husband? When I have a problem, I can’t give up and hope it just goes away. I have to be proactive and work with my husband not distance myself from him.

2. Read books on marriage.

This is one thing that my husband and I did a lot of. We really liked self-help books and would read and read. There were some books that I remember really benefiting from. Then there were others that left me crying and feeling hopeless. My husband looked at the ones that made me feel bad and he said not to listen to those. You have to consider the source. Some people are writing from a selfish world view. Even if they are popular books that does not mean they are good.

Some books that helped me were

  1. Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
  2. Opposites Attract Attack by Jack and Carole Mayhall
  3. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  4. Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley
  5. The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly Lahaye

Those are just a few of the books that impacted my life. I may think of more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

From these books I learned that it is a good thing to do whatever you can to show your spouse that you love them. Don’t be selfish with your love. Learn their primary love language and find ways to show them you love them not just in your own preferred way but how the way they like to be shown love.

For instance if your spouse loves to be given gifts and your preferred method to show love is quality time. Then find someway to put the two together. Perhaps you can save up your money and invest it in quality time shopping together for something you specifically need or want. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift to show you care.

3. Show you care about your spouse’s hobbies.

Do things together. Does your spouse like music. Find an instrument you can enjoy playing along on. Art? Find ways to be creative together. Writing? Find ways to help. Exercise? Put aside your pride and sweat a little.

I had problems with this early in our marriage. I worried over everything. Is taking karate classes with my husband very lady like? There weren’t very many other women in the class. Most just sat on the sidelines. I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll just watch. But just watching and actually taking part are two totally different things. I’ll talk more on this in a future post.

I also had a problem with learning the guitar. My husband was teaching me how to play the guitar. He was impressed with how fast I learned and how well I remembered chords. I was afraid what if I got better than him at guitar? I didn’t want him to feel bad if I was getting that good at it. So I quit trying. I backed off. Then I read, I believe it was in the Opposite’s Attack book, that my husband actually wants me to take part in his activities. He isn’t jealous if I get better at it than him. In fact, he finds it something worth bragging about.

scottstacieocarinasThat little piece of truth had me crying. I told my husband what I read and he said that it was true. He likes it when I take part in what he is doing and isn’t jealous of my learning something faster than him. He is just thrilled that I am willing to join him in the fun.

Now I play chess, take karate class, play various instruments, draw, and write. Any activity that my husband is interested in, I now take an active part. I play games with him. I go outside my comfort zone and take short term mission trips with him. Even shy little ol’ me took a picture with an elephant giving my hair some extra conditioning. (At least I’m not describing what I got in my hair in the above picture. My expression should tell it all.) :)

Right now our biggest project together is my writing. He has been painting some really beautiful pictures to illustrate anything I write. We’re partners and best friends.

Did you find resources that helped you get through the hard times? Do you have a hobby that you enjoy with your spouse? Please share with us in the comments.

This was Day 16 of 31 Days Building Commitment.

Tomorrow, I am honored to share with you a guest post by a childhood friend of mine, Jill Luna. Jill will be telling us how she found love and commitment even after experiencing failed marriages.

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Why I Started the New Year With 1000 Kicks

karate2013Elisabethmom

Every year on January 1 our karate class practices a Japanese tradition called Hatsu Geiko. We all gather at our dojo to perform 1000 kicks together. After every 100 kicks our Sensei would ask someone randomly to tell what motivates them to keep on going to karate class even when they know it’s going to be hard.

I just knew she might call on me if I didn’t think of something to say. So the whole time I was kicking I was writing my answer in my head.

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My husband and I have been married 16 years. When we first met we were skinny little things. My husband had taken various martial arts off and on before we had met.

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December 2009 (Left to Right): Jonathan, Joshua, Ruth, and Hannah

Then married life hit us along with good cooking and bad eating habits. I don’t have very many pictures of those days. When we were expecting our second child, my husband would come home from work and just lay down on the floor and let our almost two year old son just crawl over him. That was all the energy he had back then. He knew he needed exercise. So he joined a Tae Kwon Do class. I just watched.

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Our karate class in January 2011

Then we were faced with a move a few months later after our daughter was born. We didn’t join any courses for a while but then my husband wanted to find another class in our new location. He found one that met at a YMCA and we both joined that time. My parents watched the babies while we went one night a week to karate classes.

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Mommy and Elijah during Haitsu Geiko January 2011. He was about 10 months old.

We moved again! This time we didn’t find another dojo for a while. I started gaining a lot of weight. I wanted to have a 3rd child but it didn’t seem to be the Lord’s will.

I was depressed! I tired easily. My back and neck both hurt.

After about a year of being depressed, I decided to see a doctor. According to his diagnosis there was nothing wrong with me.

I gave up.

Most of the time giving up is a bad thing. This time it was good.

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Our Family Summer of 2010

 

 

I quit worrying about not having another child. I decided I would just be happy with the two I already had.

I joined a local exercise place for women. I started losing weight. My husband decided he wanted to lose weight as well and found another martial arts school.I could have just let my husband do Martial Arts while I continued my own routine. However I had read in a Marriage book once that it was good for wives to participate in their husband’s hobbies. I decided to join him in Tae Kwon Do.

Then came Baby #3.

Then we moved!

Yes, we moved again. This time my husband had a very physically challenging job so he didn’t really need the extra exercise. I was expecting our 4th baby and decided walking up the stairs where we lived was exercise enough.

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Our Family March 2012 just before Elisabeth was born.

Then we moved again! This time we moved to our present location. We lived here for about a year and a half before I decided we needed to find another place to exercise.

It was about the time Hannah was 4 and wanted to be a football player. I knew she needed a sport and the rest of the family could use some exercise as well. I talked to my husband and he started calling martial arts classes in nearby towns. That’s when we found our present karate family.

Now what keeps me going to karate class?

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We had our family picture taken with Nobuaki Kanazawa in June 2012 at a SKIF seminar held in our dojo.

I’m not exactly what people imagine in a martial artist. You look at me and you see a mother with a whole bunch of kids! I’m not exactly the karate kid. I didn’t even do sports in school.

I do this because I believe that it’s not only good for me to join my husband in the hobbies he enjoys. It’s also good for us to teach our children that we can do things as a family. If mom is sitting on the sidelines or going shopping while the rest of the family works out what message am I giving my kids?

I think that we mothers need to have fun with our families. Even as I get older I can show my kids that I can still have fun.

How about your family? Is there a hobby that y’all enjoy doing altogether as a family? If not can you think of something you can start doing together? 

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear what your family does together for fun.

I am setting my goals on a monthly basis this year. I have a few goals for the year but mostly I’m going to reevaluate monthly. So for the month of January I’ll be trying to post two blog posts a week. I also plan to write one devotional a week. I also plan to write one short story book.

And that’s just my writing goals. I have plenty of family goals for this year as well. Including keeping the dishes out of the sink. Laundry is a whole nother matter. I think I can. I think I can.

Sign up for my free email updates in order not to miss anything. Happy New Year!

 

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