By Lindsey Maestas, Crosswalk.com
My husband, Jesse, and I recently taught at a beautiful Valentine’s Day event hosted by a local church. As we studied through scripture, talked about our marriage and prayed about what to teach on, we kept going back to two things that felt most important to us and made us a “happy couple”: Foundation and Friendship.
Jesse and I know that our marriage is at its peak when the two key components of friendship and foundation are a priority. Our marriage is to be founded on God and God alone and our friendship is at its strongest point when we are running side by side toward God and His mission. We will fail if we rely on one another for our joy, our hope or our contentment. Jesse will never be able to give my life true purpose, and I will never give that to him. But God does. He is our foundation and our rock.
Matthew 7:24-27 says, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Although the tips below are fun and practical ways to maintain a friendship in your relationship, God’s gospel and word on marriage reign in my life. Above all, my number one tip on keeping marriage healthy is to keep it Christ-centered.
I believe that it is more important to thrive in this area, by God’s strength. Read the Bible together, pray together, pray for one another, attend church, remain in community and accountability and listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides your heart. Love God more than one another, love one another more than your kids and remain on mission together. But remember – we get to live in His grace. Nobody expects you to perfect this list, but that we can pray for the ability to love our spouse better for His glory.
10 Habits of Happy Couples Who Make Friendship a Priority:
1. They communicate well.
In every strong relationship, intentional communication is key. Happy couples tend to work past the basic “how was your day?” conversations. They speak openly about the good topics, as well as the hard, just as they would with their best friend. They aren’t afraid to ask questions that they don’t necessarily want to hear the answer to. For example: “In what ways do I make you feel unloved and how can I change that?” They put their guards down and allow vulnerability in their relationship because their primary goal is to grow closer to their spouse.
2. They forgive quickly.
It takes a strong person to ask for forgiveness and a stronger one to forgive. Couples who have a healthy friendship think the best of one another. They also aren’t afraid of admitting when they are wrong and they know how to argue well and in a loving way. There is no reason to tear one another down (they’re on the same team, aren’t they?!) and they work toward reconciliation quickly to prevent bitterness from affecting their relationship.
3. They have strong friendships with other couples.
Who doesn’t want to be reminded that other people go through the same silly arguments (like which direction the toilet paper roll is supposed to go)? It’s also important to see that the bigger disagreements that you and your spouse face are dealt with by other couples as well. It is beneficial to find friends that you both enjoy because you are allowing other people to offer advice and a fresh perspective regarding your relationship. And isn’t it true that you are often more aware of how you speak to and act with one another when there are people around? It’s a win win! God has called us into community and never intended for us to live our lives on our own.
4. They don’t keep secrets from one another.
BFF’s have relationships based on trust and the same goes for couples who live as best friends. Happy couples don’t feel the need to hide things from one another. Secrets breed problems – and let’s be honest, who has time for more of those?
So as far as that hidden internet history goes – happy couples aren’t about that. They don’t keep their phones from one another. They may even go so far as to share passwords (we do!) – because why not? They’re in this together.
5. They keep the romance alive.
Remember the days of the honeymoon phase when you couldn’t get the butterflies out of your stomach? The nights when you would go on fun adventures, just because, and stay out way too late? It’s so important to keep that fun and romance alive, even in small ways. Take weekly date nights, write short and sweet notes to each other and hide them throughout the house or send flirtatious text messages throughout the day.
6. They assume the best about one another.
When you come home and the dishes aren’t done or your spouse doesn’t hear something you said, it can be easy to immediately think they worst. “They always fail to do the dishes and just don’t care about how hard I work” or “They never listen to me.” However, couples who assume the best about one another immediately jump to the best conclusion rather than the worst. They understand that their spouse may have just been busy or became distracted in their conversation. They don’t allow themselves to generalize their spouse as a person who “always” does something wrong or “never” gets it right. Those words don’t belong in their vocabulary. They want the best for the marriage, so they think the best of their spouse.
7. They don’t expect intimacy to begin in the bedroom.
I believe that waiting for marriage is totally worth it. But I also know that for some couples who have been married for a while, it can be difficult to keep the fire burning as much as you would like. Happy couples don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of their sex lives. So don’t let intimacy begin in the bedroom. Touch one another, kiss one another playfully while dinner is cooking, give one another a hug every time someone comes home, sit next to each other on the couch and hold hands whenever you walk together. Once you begin to create that intimacy outside of the bedroom, the desire to be in the bedroom more often will grow.
8. They put down their phones.
Checking out after a long day to scroll through social media or work on emails for hours doesn’t help to create a BFF relationship. When couples treat one another as they would their best friends, they make the daily choice to put electronics down and talk with one another face-to-face. By putting everything away, they are saying: “I am going to give you my attention. You are home and I see you. You are important to me. I am devoting this time to you because I want it to be evident that I appreciate you and love you.”
9. The compliment one another more than they criticize.
It is proven that when you affirm your spouse, you are likely to strengthen those same qualities that you are praising. You have the opportunity to build them up and make them better.
However, when frustrations do arise, addressing them immediately helps to prevent any future nagging or criticism of those same behaviors in later settings. BFF couples deal with issues head-on, giving more opportunities to praise and compliment one another. Why? They aren’t blinded by one another’s faults or frustrations. Tearing one another down, especially in public, is a quick way to damage the ‘best friend’ relationship that you’re working toward.
10. They go to bed together.
For married couples, nighttime is a time for deep conversations, cuddling, movie watching and, you guessed it, sex. Happy couples go to bed together to create opportunities for closeness. Even if there are a million other things that they could be doing, they are showing one another that they’re carving out time to make them a priority. Go to bed together! Have sex! Enjoy one another.
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This article originally appeared on sparrowsandlily.com. Used with permission.
Lindsey Maestas is a Christian, a wife to an incredible and loving husband and a stay-at-home-mommy to the happiest, most-energetic little boy, Sutton Rylee. She received her degree in Journalism and has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl. Lindsey began Sparrows + Lily to remind moms, wives, students, employees, dads, husbands and families that they’re never alone. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter or visit her blog at sparrowsandlily.com.
Image courtesy: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
Publication date: March 21, 2017