Growing a Beautiful Marriage (The Grass is Always Greener…)

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I am not one to say that I have the perfect marriage. I am not a perfect wife. And hubs, well, he’s not perfect, either.

Recently I read through an old journal that reflected a very tough year. Whew. Humbling. There are seasons of spring where everything’s roses. And there are seasons of winter when things could look better.

There, in fact, is a season for everything.

And that is probably why traditional vows spoken at weddings list, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” Marriage means being committed to someone, no matter what. No matter the season.

That imperfect marriage disclaimer thrown out there, I’m thankful to say that we have been happily married since 1994. If my math serves me right — always a questionable thought — we are going into the tail end of our 18th year of marriage. Really? Wow! Recently, I did math (again) and realized that I’ve known my husband for more than half my life.

Time flies when you’re having fun!

After all this time, I can honestly say that I love him more today than I did on the day I said, “I do.” God has been gracious, indeed.

While there are no tricks to a happy marriage, there are things that can increase your chances. These are the ones that I’ve discovered so far. 

1. Trust God.

This is the hardest, yet most important of all things. Trust God to lead you and your husband. Ask — and then Trust — Him to keep your marriage safe and strong. Trust that He knows better than you when there’s something you don’t understand and ask for wisdom when there is, because there will be a lot of things you don’t understand.

2. Die to yourself.

At our wedding, a good friend of ours stood up and offered an exhortation. (That was allowed, we had planned this. Don’t want you to think he was crashing the party.)

He encouraged us to “one down each other.” As he explained, the world is full of people trying to outdo one another and climb over each other. He exhorted us to outdo one another in kindness and love. 

Marriage requires a certain degree of dying to yourself, even in the simple things like meal planning. Sometimes in bigger things.

Two become one. That means there is compromise and letting go. On both sides. If you’ve chosen well, you will find that your husband is letting go of things, too.

If you’re in a season where you don’t feel like you chose well, go back to number 1 and pray that God would change him — or you.

(However, if you are in an abusive marriage, that is a different story entirely, and you should seek help and safety immediately.)

3. Enjoy one another.

Kids, bills, chores, and the other stuff of life can distract us from one another. Find time to spend alone together, even if it’s late at night after the kids go to bed. At-home date nights can be great. Make it a priority to reconnect every day, several times per day, if possible.

It doesn’t need to be all fireworks and candlelight. But, make sure that you remind yourself regularly why you married each other in the first place.

4. Accept differences.

My husband does not like ketchup, stinky cheeses, or sappy love stories. I do. On the other hand, I don’t like steak burritos or creepy movies. We’re different. That’s obvious.

But, we also think and act differently. I vacillate between pie-in-the-sky hopeful and absolute pessimist. He’s a realist. We balance each other out.

Two become one. It’s a good thing.

5. Encourage dreams and hopes.

One of our struggles in the last decade was living in one state, wishing we lived in another state. All things being equal, I was okay with wherever. Diapers, cleaning chores, and homeschool are the same no matter where I live.

But, it mattered to him. So, I made it matter to me. I made a point of encouraging him to dream big dreams, namely to move home to California in a down economy.

I learned a lot during that season. Namely, no man wants to feel trapped. Make sure your main squeeze knows that you believe in him and that you really would follow him wherever he would lead you.


Growing a beautiful marriage doesn’t just happen. There are seasons of good weather and of bad. There are seasons of rain and of drought. And there’s different soil to work with. You can add amendments and condition the soil. You can water. You can grow.

And no matter what you perceive your friends and neighbors to have, reality is that they have a different life, a different garden than you. Personalities, likes, dislikes, situations, family background — they all combine in a wonderful mix.

While it might not be the same as the folks over there, your marriage can be wonderful!

This is an ongoing series. If you missed the first installment, you can go back to the beginning.

Next: The Most Beautiful Garden


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It’s YOUR turn!

What have you found to be successful in growing your marriage?

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  1. Marriage is hard. Sometimes it is hard for a long time and sometimes it is hard for a day or so. We recently hit a patch where I felt totally unwanted and unappreciated. After arguing with him and crying myself to sleep 2 nights in a row I think I finally got him to understand why I was upset. I think in the end it brought us closer. You just can’t give up on trying to work through whatever the problem is. Many times people keep things bottled up inside and are not willing to work on it.

  2. Thank you so much for this post! As My husband and I are celebrating our 13th anniversary today, I have been thinking about all of the ups and downs we have been through, all the struggles with military life, being away from our families and having 4 daughters. Your post reminded me that it really is all worth it.

  3. such a relevant post for me now. thanks for your simple yet eloquent words, as always.

  4. Loved your post. The only problem I have with advice on fixing a rough marriage is that in mine, I was the only one trying to fix it. I could no longer be miserable in a broken marriage because its what I was “supposed” to do…to stay and trust God that it would get better. Instead, I chose to move on, and God has blessed me with a second chance at love. I am taking what I learned from the first go-round, and applying it to my new relationship. And now it’s right. 🙂

    1. You’re right. Marriage requires that both parties work on it. It’s a team effort.

      I’m happy that you found someone to work with you.

    2. I hope that I didn’t sound presumptuous in my advice. I have no idea how to “fix” anything. There are so many marriage experiences out there, I’m sure that there is no cure-all. It most definitely is a team effort.

  5. I just loved this post! So much of it rings true for our marriage as well!

    Recently I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety after the birth of our 3rd child. For a week I was literally unable to function or care for our children, my dear sweet husband had to take a month off of work and not only nurse me back to health, but the run the show.

    It has been such a difficult journey these last few months, but we are LIVING our marriage vows. It is easy to love each other when everything is going great. But when hard times come, and they will, that has been the true test for us.

    My husband is so loving, giving, so selfless. This whole experience has brought us so much closer in ways I never even knew possible. I love him so much and even more now as I have watched him sacrifice so much for me and our family.

    Trusting God has been at the forefront of our daily existence. I am so grateful, beyond grateful!

  6. Great post! My dh and I have been married for 15.5 years and we’ve made it through some rough, rough times!! We have grown more mature over the years and of course that helps. I read a book once that focused on ways to bless your husband and to help you to let go of what you want all the time, and that really helped me! I learned to really appreciate his good qualities rather than always thinking on how to change his bad ones. Praying for him, really helped my heart grow fonder as well!

    1. I’m finding that praying and asking God to move him where we should be has been one of the best things. God has been very gracious to do the intervention so I don’t have to mess it up and try to steer us wrong.

  7. Oh, this is a great post. “No man wants to feel trapped” really resonates with me. I’ve been with my husband for 15 years (married for 12) and since I’ve known him he has been slogging away in a field that has earned a good living but not inspired any passion on his part. This fall I was accepted to go back for my Masters in Social Work, but he fell in love with an amazing MBA program right here in our city, and I heard him sound excited and energized about something career-related for maybe the first time ever. My plans went on hold and I am paying forward the sacrifices he has made to allow me to be home full time with our children by taking over pretty much everything (except earning the money!) around the house, related to kid care, finances, etc. Every day I pray that I can support him without being a martyr. I am challenged by that ;), but I owe it to him, and I am trusting God (and him) that someday my time will come!

  8. Heh

    Hubby and I are also on our 18th year(although I won’t hit the known him longer than not until we have two and a half decades). Sometimes I feel like we are on a roller coaster. We’re up, we’re down, we’re on the same page, oopps wait, now we’re not. I love my husband with everything, he’s my best friend. There is so much comfort in knowing someone knows me, flaws and all, and still loves me, in spite of them. It’s a gift(and the closest thing to God’s love here on Earth.)Still since we know so much about each other it’s hard sometimes to be surprised. We’re so different about everything other than values. Conversations get stale and I pine for the days where we could talk about our dreams for hours and he was like this huge puzzle, not yet completed. He forgets to tell me things I need to hear until I remind him. He forgets what matters to me in the rush of providing for us. I forget to tell him things that I should. He should hear every day how important he is to me. He doesn’t. I forget to make that time inthe rush of day to day. I never in a million years would have been able to understand or explain how hard(and worthwhile) marriage is. I just hope my kids are figuring it out by watching what we’ve been doing these almost past two decades.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

  9. Thank you for this! We just celebrated our 7th anniversary, and welcomed our third child in June. When you noted the struggle with the desire to live elsewhere, it struck a chord with me. I need to trust, practice patience, and too realize that homeschool, cooking, and dipes are the same no matter where we live. Thanks for sharing this truth!

  10. Communication has been a real eye opener for us. We met in high school, dated, broke up and reunited years later. Hubs and I have been married for 7 years, together for 12. We’ve always had issues with communicating. He would not understand what I was saying, and I got frustrated. We’re still working on it, and it’s been so much better. We’ve also been good at appreciating each other, I get to stay at home with our kids and he goes to work. I appreciate what he does to support our family, and he appreciates clean clothes, meals made and a fairly neat house (unless the Legos are out!). We’ve had our ups and downs, and I won’t lie, there were a few times, when we were tempted to throw in the towel. We slowly found our way back to each other, and are making it work. 🙂

  11. I am enjoying this series. Thank you. I will be marking this post in particular! 10 years this December and more in love than when we married… But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have those moments! Sometimes, the moments are a daily occurrence. Yikes!! But being quick to apologize keeps the days moving forward for the better. Sometimes, even if you’re not “wrong”. I’ve learned this from my sweet husband!

  12. This is such a beautiful post. My husband and I have only been married a short time, and as we’re preparing for our first child, I worry about how things will change once the kiddo is actually here. It’s always great to hear advice from people who have been making it work for so long! Congrats to you guys!

    1. Kids totally change the dynamic. Be willing to change and it will be fine. 😉

  13. Thank you so much for the great reminders and pointers! I really need to work on 2 & 5. One of the most humbling things in my marriage (which I think is going well) is when my mother comes for dinner and starts to talk to my husband about his work. I suddenly realize how much she is caring about and taking an interest in this big part of his life, while I usually talk to him about he kids or church. Even if certain subjects are not the most interesting to me, it is important to let him share what’s important to him!

  14. I loved your post…my husband and I have been “together” since 91…married since 95…and the one thing I tell a lot of women is you “fight” the battles you can win…you don’t waste your time on the ones you can’t. You “fight” for what is worth fighting for and that you believe in… example…over the many moons I continue to pick up the same 1/2 empty glass of pepsi and empty chip bag in the morning that my hubby leaves out from the night before…it used to be ok with me…then I got mad about it…then I’d sit and stew on it….then, after our son came, after we both lost jobs, after I was finally diagnosed with chronic r/a… I said, “FORGET ABOUT IT”…. it’s not a fight I’ll win… and frankly, I don’t WANT that fight…it’s only a glass and a chip bag. I started thinking about how many things he may do for me that I am blind to…and it just didn’t matter any more. And I feel better and happier for it.

  15. Congratulations on 18 years of marriage! I love the pointers.

    While I’ve only been married just over 2 years, I’ve already seen how many of them come into play and have been learning so much. I’ve been documenting many of these lessons I’ve been learning in a series on my blog, Secrets of a Newlywed.

    Along with #1, I think learning to trust my husband has been so crucial to my marriage. I’m continually awed by how he really is always looking out for my good, thinking of me, doing things “my way” rather than his own out of a willingness to sacrifice and be the husband God has called him to be. Needless to say, that has been so very humbling to me to watch–and to aspire to for myself.