I'm super excited for this week because, in honor of my 13th wedding anniversary, I am relaunching my amazing resource called the Marriage Builders Toolkit, a 105-page collection of carefully curated content designed to make your marriage the best relationship it could possibly be!
In the pages of the Marriage Builders Toolkit, you will find resources like date night planners and prayer calendars, conversation starters and Bible verse cards, love letter prompts and a full-length ebook on the puzzle pieces of a strong and healthy marriage.
This collection has the potential to radically change your marriage and make it the sweet respite your soul longs for!
Here's what one reader, a licensed counselor, had to say about the collection:
You can also check out the other marriage posts in this series:
And, as if My Healthy Marriage Solution and those posts were not enough goodness for your marriage, read on for another awesome blog post.
A few months ago, I wrote an ebook about marriage. At the time, our marriage was by far the best it had been in thirteen years of wedded bliss, and I wanted to share that euphoria with the great, wide internet.
To be honest, things in our marriage have cooled off a bit since I wrote the book (you'll know what I'm talking about when you read it), but we are still in a good place – much better than years past.
Looking back on our 13 years together, I have been thinking about the practical, hands-on tips that have made our life together work more smoothly. Those things are below.
I hope these tips will help you to smooth out the bumps in your road.
7 Practical Tips for a Smoother Married Life
- Create a shared calendar. I really, really, really want Joe to join in my Google calendar love, but he won't. I have tried and tried to get him to use my calendar on his phone (complete with different colors for family and church and Tara personal and Joe personal and kids), where he can see instantly whether we are free or have plans for weeks and months in the future, but he refuses. What's a girl to do? I bought this magnetic, dry erase calendar, and I fill it out every Sunday for the week ahead plus I use the big space at the bottom to write out the week after next in scant detail. This system works really well for Joe, my big old luddite.
If you can get your spouse on board, my preference would be to sync up Google calendars and use that as a shared system you could both have in your pockets all the time. It would make life so much easier for everyone.
- Create shared margin. Do you know what I mean by margin? Margin is the time in your schedule when there's nothing scheduled. It's the gap in between your commitments. Everyone needs margin, and every relationship needs margin. Rather than scheduling all your couple time together, leave some down time when the two of you can just be together without the pressure of an appointment or even an activity. More on that below in #4.
- Plan social time alone and together. Just like we all need margin, we all need time with friends. If you're going to be a happy person, you must connect with your friends and often. But while you do need to maintain your and his friends, you also really need couple friends, husband/wife teams you can meet up with - with our without kids - and go bowling or eat at a restaurant or watch a football game together. Having godly couples in your married life is every bit as important as having godly friends is to each of you separately.
- Define quality time and make time for it. For Joe and me, quality time means eating out at a restaurant. I don't know why, but that's what we love to do. We get a babysitter and eat out. If we sat down and talked about it though, I think we'd find that we like to do other things together like go to the movies and mini golf and play board games that are too complex for our kids. Eating out is a great start – there is lots of good conversation – but there's so much more to quality time than just that. For you, watching a movie on the couch might be just the right thing, or maybe it's a round of golf together. Whatever you think your thing is, talk to your spouse about it and then make time to do it together.
- Fight about one thing at a time. This is so important, and yet it is so hard to do. Just this past weekend, Joe and I were having a heated conversation about the kids, and I said, "Well, you make it seem like you care more about (some other unrelated thing) than about me and the kids." He looked at me, shut his mouth, and went down the stairs, into the basement and right out the back door. I'm not sure where he went or what he did while he was away, but I can tell you for sure that I felt like a huge jerk. The thing I'd brought up had nothing at all to do with the current issue, and it shut down all communication about everything. Bringing up old wounds is good for doing exactly that. What you must do instead is to argue about the current thing and, if you absolutely must bring up something old, do it at a time when you can both be calm and level-headed about it.
- Communicate expectations. This should perhaps have been #1 on the list because it is the source of most marital spats in my experience, especially those in the early years. Here's a newsflash: your spouse is not a mind reader, even if you have been married for 50 years. In fact, if your spouse is a man, I would venture to guess that he doesn't even understand your mind, let alone could he possibly know what is going on inside it. You must tell him what you need and want, or else he will not know. The end. (I wanted to write [mic drop] but I don't think I'm cool enough to do that.)
- Plan meals ahead of time. This is perhaps a silly and inconsequential item to put on the list, but trust me, it will save you many hours or discussion and dumb arguments if you just decide who's going to do it, and that person does it reliably every week. Joe and I have spent countless - no kidding - hours arguing about what we were going to have for dinner and why I wouldn't tell him what I wanted (because I didn't care) and why he couldn't just decide on his own (he wanted to make something that would please me). Nowadays, we subscribe to a meal service that decides what we're going to eat, cooks the food, and delivers it once a week. We don't fight about food anymore, and that is amazing and wonderful.
These 7 practical tips will help your marriage to run a lot more smoothly. If you aren't currently doing any of them, just pick one or two and implement them first and then try another once you get those down.
The ebook I mentioned above is part of a huge collection of my resources called The Healthy Marriage Solution, and it will re-launch next Monday, July 29 (in honor of our thirteenth anniversary!) with a big bang. I hope you'll check back then for all the details!