I write all the time about what not to do in a marriage.  But I thought I would ask some people in my life who I believe have good, solid, actually happy Christian marriages for what they think it takes to actually have what they have.

Here’s what they had to say:

Believe the best about each other.

Give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Pray for your husband daily, knowing that the changes that result will be in you. Any other changes will just be icing on the cake.

-married 9 years

Go against your human nature and love and serve your spouse and treat them as your teammate even when they don’t do it back.

-married 20 years

Be willing to show up every day, own YOUR stuff while not attempting to own the other person’s stuff, and work together to solve the problems that arise. Always keeping in mind that the enemy wants to keep you separated and in conflict so your husband is NOT the enemy. Together you stay united so that the enemy cannot get in and when he does squirm his way in you fight like heck (you AND husband) to get him out.

That sounds simple enough, but is extremely difficult to do. There are times in marriage that you just feel “off” and that is completely OKAY. You keep showing up every day and acknowledging that “we are off” while reaffirming that we “want to be on” and are doing our best to get back “on.” Trusting that sometimes it is through the “off” times that God teaches one or both of you something they need to move forward into our relationship with each other and ultimately with Him.

Let each person have their OWN journey. God teaches me completely different things than he teaches my husband in completely different ways. Allow this to be OKAY and get excited about how your spouse journeys through it all. God made us different so that we would reveal different things about Him to the world around us…there is no use fighting for them to be the same. And only harm to be done if we try to control or manipulate our way into getting what we want or others seeing how we see. It all only limits God and therefore limits your marriage.

-married 8 years

Have accountability partners that aren’t each other. And grace grace grace.

-married 16 years

Daily devotions and praying together. Prioritizing the relationship through date nights (even if they are at home). That’s why we got our fire pit! Speak respectfully to each other and about each other. Take a leap of faith together to strengthen your faith and relationship. Forgive each other quickly and completely.

-married 15 years

Realize that you aren’t always going to get along…..and to roll with the ups and downs. There are some great highs, but every relationship has its lows as well. There has to be mutual things you do together, time spent together. There has to be compromise, and sometimes one party has to give in more than the other. Mainly, there is the long-term commitment…just to realize no matter how low the lows (and I’m not including abuse here), that you stick it out, work through it, and come out the other side again.

-married 41 years

I hope what you saw as the common thread is that good marriages take work, take compromise, take grace.  They don’t just happen, sweet ones.  But – and this is SO KEY for you who has been hurt – THEY ARE POSSIBLE.

Author’s note: these suggestions are for healthy relationships between two godly, mature adults where addiction and abuse is not prevalent.

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Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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