I have the privilege of being around some amazing couples from time to time, and they truly inspire me to be a better wife and helper for Robert. Sometimes, though, I have the misfortune of hearing one part of a couple talk bad about their spouse, and those moments really get to me. And so, while I am by no means a relationship expert or guru, I am a Christian trying to be in the most godly marriage I can, and hopefully some of these tips will encourage you in your walk with God and your spouse.
1: Never put them down. I don't care if it's to your mom or to your best friend or to a random stranger: don't put your spouse down! You have been given the opportunity to give other people a glimpse into what your spouse is like -- only use those moments for good! When you get into an argument, don't call someone else to vent. When he/she does something that you didn't like, pray about it. Never spread negativity when it comes to your spouse. We all know that there are going to be amazing moments, too, but the likelihood of you going to these same people and telling them about how wonderful your spouse is in that moment--well, it's a slim chance. And, even if you do, they have a tainted view of your spouse now from all of the negativity. Be sure you are one whom your spouse can trust (Proverbs 31:11), and be sure that you only speak kind words about them (Proverbs 31:26).
2: Keep secrets. This goes along with the trust we just mentioned. The heart of your spouse should feel safe with you, and that includes publicly and privately. The Proverb writer said, "A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter." (11:13). Your spouse should wholly trust that you aren't going to be running off and telling other people negative things about them, but they should also trust that you aren't going to share some of your private and intimate moments with other people. The bond between a husband and a wife is a special, sacred bond meant only for them. Do not tell other people about the things which should only be kept between the two of you. That doesn't only include things that center around the marriage bed, either (though it does include them!). If you and your spouse talk about something serious (or even silly!) and it is only meant for the two of you, don't spread it! Having inside jokes with your spouse can be one of the most amazing things about marriage: being able to share a glance from across the room when a certain word or phrase is mentioned can be fun and secretive and exciting! Never feel that you must share those moments with others! Keep your marriage private, and keep the secrets that your spouse needs you to keep--serious and silly included.
3: Show your spouse (and others!) you're happy in your marriage. One of my resolutions in 2013 is to dedicate at least one blog post per month to my husband. You may think that's silly and superficial, but there's method to my madness. I want Robert (as well as the rest of the world) to know that I value him and cherish him and am so proud/happy to be his. The Proverbist said, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorry of the heart the spirit is broken." (15:13). As a wife, I have a daily opportunity to either give my husband a cheerful countenance or to break his spirit. Every spouse has that same opportunity. Whether it's something cheesy like a Facebook post or something aww-inducing like a precious blog post, show the world how much you love your spouse and how thrilled you are to be married to them--regardless of if it's been 2 years or 22.
4: Don't measure your marital bliss by your bank account. Proverbs 16:8 says, "Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice." Just one chapter earlier we read, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf with hatred." (15:17). How much money your husband makes shouldn't determine how happy you are in marriage. During one of our pre-marital counseling sessions, the preacher warned that most couples fight the most about money once they are married. Sadly, I've seen that develop for many people. Instead of focusing on money and things, spend time improving the quality of your marriage. Whether you have a lot or a little shouldn't add or subtract one ounce of happiness to your marriage. So you have to pinch pennies one month because there's less money! Find creative ways to do that together. Decide on cheap alternatives to your daily lives, and maybe even make a game out of it. Resolve to take monthly dates, even if there isn't money there. There are plenty of things to do that don't cost money (hello pajama party watching movies you already own!). Be sure to let your husband know that how little or much he makes isn't what makes you happy: him being yours is what does that!
5: You don't have to share everything. Let me tell you, Robert and I are sharers. From the time we became friends at Freed, sharing just came easy for us. Getting married, I thought that I had to share every single thought and intention and motive and idea I ever had. Ha!! Now listen, I don't mean that I keep things from Robert or that I purposefully don't tell him things, but here's what I mean: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Prov. 29:11). You are a human being. There will be days when you are not at your best. There will be days when you are cranky and when your spouse simply cannot do anything to make you feel otherwise. On those days, do not share every thought, feeling, insecurity and frustration. If you're like me (and bless you if you are), chances are you won't even mean/feel those things the next day. DON'T SAY THEM. They will hurt for much longer than you even mean them. Keep them in. Never say anything to intentionally hurt your spouse. Note that the Proverbist did not say you cannot talk about any feelings whatsoever; instead, he says a fool vents them all. We all have those spur of the moment, fleeting feelings that no one should ever hear about. They will go away, be sure to be self-controlled enough to keep them in so you do not do unnecessary harm to your marriage.
Here's a true saying: "The grass is greener where you water it." If you want a happy marriage, build one! Happiness and contentment and joy are always within reach!