8 Steps to a Happy Marriage
Knowing what it takes to consistently love your wife in such a way that it guarantees that you will have a happy marriage is frankly pretty easy.
Just plain common sense would tell us that the more you put her first, the more she will want to love and respect you in return. And that leads to a very fulfilling and happy marriage.
But the outworking of putting her first requires consistent unselfish actions that are practiced every single day.
These eight actions or “disciplines” are simple but don’t always come naturally. It takes intentionality, patience and practice until they become your lifestyle as a loving husband.
1. Acknowledge that your chief role as husband is to protect and provide
This is what men do. The first line of defense in protecting and providing for your wife, is to lead her spiritually. That means you initiate prayer together, reading the Bible, going to church, serving the Lord and modeling the spirit-filled life of being a Christ-follower. If you’re not sure about that responsibility, take time to talk to godly men around you whom you believe are living this out, to help you understand and commit to that role.
2. Learn her love language
Stop trying to love your wife the way you’re comfortable loving her. Love her the way she needs to be loved. I had a wise and seasoned husband tell me that his marriage completely turned around after he discovered this simple truth. “God wants to love my wife His way but through me.” So on occasion, I ask the Lord how He wants me to show HIS love to her today.
3. Embrace your differences
As John Eldridge teaches, “She is not a puzzle to solve but a mystery to explore.” Stop trying to make her like you. What a disaster that would be. God’s Word said He made your wife as a “suitable helper.” In the original language, a helper is one who fills up the gaps. Yep, you got gaps and your beautiful and very different-than-you wife can help fill those in, if you will let her. Which, by the way, will inevitably make her a lot more content as she is given opportunity to live out what she is naturally designed to be and do.
4. Let her be right
Even when you’re pretty certain she is wrong, don’t let on. Unless it is some life-changing topic, what’s the big deal? It’s only your pride that gets bruised when you have to be right. Instead, yield the floor and give it to her.
My friend, Stewart, had been married for over 20 years. It was an “okay” marriage but fraught with arguments. They were the classic “Bickersons.” Each one of them more stubborn than the other and unrelenting in needing to be right. Finally, Stewart decided that with God’s help, he would lay down his life (rights) and let his wife be right – all the time.
At first it was excruciating because he felt that as a man he should never cave in. Then he realized that the meekness of Jesus was a greater strength on the inside of him than anything on the outside. It wasn’t long and he not only got free from having to be right, he felt joy whenever he could sincerely tell his wife, “You know, I think you’re right, honey.”
The result? The arguments stopped and her love and respect for him went through the roof. And it wasn’t long after, that she gladly deferred to him, even when initially she thought he was wrong.
5. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
The apostle Paul gave us those instructions in Ephesians 4:26 as a way of helping us prevent deterioration in our marriage. If a grievance by you or your spouse is not resolved by the time you fall asleep, it gets locked in and can sour into bitterness and resentment. Those are two sins that can have permanent consequences.
While my mom and dad didn’t have a marriage free of problems, dad was the one who made certain they didn’t go to bed angry. Regardless of how you feel, keep short accounts and go to bed free of anger. It will reinforce your love commitment and allows you to start the next day with a fresh perspective.
6. Do what comes unnatural for you
When certain requests come up from your wife, sometimes they are the exact opposite of what you want. You know what I’m referring to. Things like shopping together in the mall, watching chick flicks, listening to ALL the details as she gives an account of her day, letting her pick the vacation spot, giving her preference in home make-over projects, and actually asking her for a Honey-do list and then doing it. It’s not natural. It’s not easy. But do it and there will be huge payoffs for you.
7. Romance her like you did before you caught her
Men are hunters and you know what it took to get the trophy. When you were in hot pursuit before you married, she knew that your universe revolved around her. You romanced her in creative ways that came natural for you. You never thought twice about putting her needs first, spending time with her or cherishing her. So you obviously have it in you.
Why then, does any husband stop doing that once the honeymoon is over?
8. Don’t go it alone
Get help. There simply are no excuses for not knowing what to do as a husband, or how to do it. There are numerous resources for men who want to know how to commit to becoming a husband that exemplifies the true meaning of unconditional love. Start by looking for that man in your network that has a great marriage. Ask him to help you become a better husband and start modeling what he does. And remember, if you are in a small group with a band of brothers, it’s guaranteed they will be eager to help you, pray with you and encourage you.
Being happily married until death do you part is what you signed up for. It’s what you want and it’s what you expect. But once the honeymoon is over, it just won’t “happen” by itself. You have to be the one to make it happen. So do it. And keep doing it even when you don’t feel like it.
For a more in-depth look, get Todd Isberner’s new book “What Every Man Needs to Know: How to Master Faith, Family, Fitness and Finance” here.
By Todd Isberner