It seems almost impossible, but within just six short years, my wife, Danielle, and I have experienced a dose of the better, the worse, the richer, the poorer, the sickness and the health that people talk about when taking their wedding vows. We aren’t experts at marriage, but in our time of sticking to the covenant we made with God and each other, we’ve learned some things that have helped us along the way. The following are seven keys that have helped us stay married, and we hope they will help you too. (Happy Sweetest Day!)
1. Make the decision to stay together…especially during hard times. This is definitely easier said than done, but when you and your spouse make a decision that nothing will come between the two of you, nothing will. The word decision means “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.” When our son, Junior, was passing away at just 10 days old, we looked at each other in his hospital room and promised we would not allow his death to tear us apart. We have petty arguments, and there are days when we drive each other crazy—like any other couple—but at the end of the day, we know we have made the decision to stay together come hell or high water. We’ve also found that actually verbalizing this commitment to each other on a regular basis is a powerful statement of promise and commitment.
2. Pray together. In the mornings as we’re driving on our way into work and then again at night, we pray together. We ask that God would lead us during the day, and we thank Him for protecting us throughout it. We ask Him for His guidance and wisdom, and we thank Him for our family, friends and loved ones. Praying with your spouse and for your spouse breeds intimacy, and it invites God and His Spirit into whatever you both are facing, individually and collectively.
3. Keep the relationship spicy. Keep your spouse desiring you and keep up whatever attracted your spouse to you in the first place. Go on dates just like you did before you got married, and make sure that in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, the two of you have time to steal away and be together.
4. Have fun together and laugh together. We both agree that one of the main reasons we got married was because we could have fun together. It didn’t matter what we were doing; as long as we were together, we were enjoying each other’s company. And we’ve kept it that way now that we’re married. Sometimes our fun includes going out of town, and sometimes it means we’re playing competitive games of UNO against each other into the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes, we’re bowling with each other or with family and friends, and other times, we’re working together to make a good home-cooked meal. Whatever “fun” looks like for you and your spouse, make sure you incorporate it into your lives on a regular basis.
5. Create your own identity as a couple. We’ve learned that what works for other couples in terms of communication—the way they show love or even the way they interact—doesn’t always work for us, and vice versa. And that’s OK, because we aren’t them. We’ve learned how to dance to the beat of our own drum, and we like it that way. Everyone’s advice and well-meaning words won’t always be applicable to your marriage. Take what works and leave the rest of it behind. You and your spouse are the two most important people in your relationship, and you get to chart your own course regarding what’s best for you.
6. Believe in each other and for each other. We both have our likes that are separate from each other, but many times, they intertwine. We’ve learned that supporting each other in our dreams has been one of the best ways to show each other that we love each other. Whether it’s acting, modeling and public speaking, or becoming an expert photographer, we are each other’s biggest supporters. We know from first-hand experience that it feels good to have your No. 1 fan right at home.
7. Communication really is key. Sometimes we get it right. A lot of times we get it wrong. But we’re still working on it, and that’s what’s most important. It’s crucial to know that your spouse is not a mind reader. There have been many days when we have argued and the root of the argument has been that one of us just wasn’t clear enough in what he or she was telling the other. Our favorite marriage counselor has told us repeatedly, “In the absence of communication, assumptions are made.” Be clear with each other. Your spouse is only human. If you aren’t clear with whatever information you’re trying to share, chances are he or she will not understand it in the way that you meant it. Trust us, overcommunicating something is always better than trying to get your spouse to fill in the blanks on what you meant or thought you said.
Just like you are, we’re learning as we go. But as long as we’re learning together, we know our marriage will stay strong and will last a lifetime.
Christopher and Danielle Jones are a fun-loving couple who make sure to laugh every day. They have weathered a variety of storms throughout their lives, all while holding on to their faith in God and their love for each other. Founders of the Angel Baby Network, Chris and Danielle are passionate about supporting families who have endured child loss, and they seek to inspire others with their story, As Sure As Tomorrow Comes: One Couple’s Journey through Loss and Love.