5 Keys to Have a Strong Marriage — Even During the Storms of Life

How to Have a Strong Marriage

Since we’ve moved to Tennessee and restructured the way we do life, I will be honest and tell you that it’s been a challenge for our marriage. It’s brought a lot of new issues to the surface and we’ve had many long, hard talks (and yes, some out-and-out arguments) as a result.

As we’ve struggled through together, our marriage has grown and it’s been good. Not easy, mind you, but good. And I know our marriage is going to come out stronger as a result.

Working through these things and not giving up until we find resolution and oneness has made me appreciate our marriage even more. Some days, we might be at odds and frustrated with each other, but because we are both committed to our marriage “till death do us part”, these storms are making us stronger instead of ripping us apart.

If you’re going through a tough time in your lives right now, I wanted to share five keys that have helped us to have a strong marriage — even during the recent storms of life:

1. Stop Coasting

A good marriage doesn’t just happen; it requires a LOT of work and time and effort. Just like you couldn’t expect to build a muscular body without putting in a lot of time weight-lifting, so you can’t expect to have a strong marriage if you’re not constantly building it up.

Make time for your spouse. Go throughout your day looking for ways to build up your spouse, encourage your spouse, and love your spouse. If you’re too busy to invest in your marriage, you’re just plain too busy.

2. Don’t Keep It G-Rated

Seriously, people. You are supposed to be lovers, not roommates. Act like it. :)

Look for ways to keep the spark alive. Flirt with your spouse. Whisper sweet-nothings. Think about what you used to do when you were dating, engaged, and newlyweds and bring some of that romance back into your marriage.

Truly, what happens in the bedroom will affect just about every other area of your life. In most cases, if you make romance a priority, it will clear up a host of other problems and issues.

Need some encouragement and practical advice in this area? I highly recommend reading Sheet Music, Red Hot Monogamy, and Rekindling the Romance.

How to Have Strong Marriage

3. Find the Good and Praise It

There are always a host of things we can point out, pick at, nag, and criticize. If we spend all our time focused on that, we’ll be frustrated with how far short our spouse is falling from where we want them to be.

On the flip side, there are always, always, always good things to praise. Become a noticer of the good.

Go throughout your day looking for things to be thankful for about your spouse. These could be little, everyday things or big, major things. The more you focus on the good, the more good you’ll probably see.

4. Ask Forgiveness Often

A good marriage is built around a lot of humility and the ability to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” Those are hard words to say, but they are necessary.

We all make mistakes. We all say words we shouldn’t say. We all respond in anger at times. When that happens, be willing to admit you are wrong.

Don’t stuff things and just try to be extra nice to make up for your short-comings. In addition, don’t blame your spouse. Owning our own mistakes and apologizing for them is the first step in restoration.

5. Learn Their Love Language

While I don’t like to box people into specific categories, every person has a unique love language — the way they feel most loved.

If you’re unfamiliar with the five love languages, they are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. In many cases, you’ll be a mix of a few of these, but you’ll almost always have one that is dominant. If you’re not sure what you love language is, you can take this quiz here (and be sure to have your spouse take it, too!)

Once you know what someone else’s love language is, it really helps you to be able to demonstrate love in a manner that means the most to them. For instance, my dominant love language is Words of Affirmation. It means the world to me when Jesse tells me how much he appreciates me and how proud he is of me. This speaks love to me much more than buying something for me does.

Jesse’s love language is quality time. It’s very important to him that we spend time together and just be together — without me acting rushed or like I’m busy. As a Type A person who does not have the love language of quality time, it’s been a learning experience for me to figure out that just being with him is extremely meaningful to him.

It’s taken us years to figure these things out about each other, but as we’ve put forth effort to learn each other’s love language and to be intentional about expressing it, our marriage has grown much stronger. And it’s been every bit worth the effort!

How to Have a Strong Marriage

What are some ways that you have found help keep your marriage strong?

Note: This post was written for couples who are in healthy relationships where both parties love each other and want to work on issues together and personally. If your spouse is abusive, please, please, please don’t hide the abuse out of fear or let your spouse convince you it’s your fault. Get help immediately.

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Comments

  1. says

    Favorite post ever!!!
    We are celebrating our 30th anniversary this very month. About 25 of those years were extremely difficult, due to selfishness, miscommunication, and dishonesty. 18 months ago, we got back on track. In our late 40’s and living like newlyweds again.
    It’s been interesting. A blessing, yes….but those wasted years are a burden. I am passionate about helping women redeem their marriages as a result.
    Fabulous book recommendations…but if you blush easily, beware if you start Sheet Music!! Kevin Leman pulls NO punches. Haha!!
    So glad you wrote on this topic, Crystal. A dear friend and I plan to write a book for women in struggling marriages one of these days when our kids are older!!

    • says

      LOVE this! And thank you for an encouragement! Let me know when you write that book… I have *much* left to learn.

      And yes, Kevin Leman ain’t much of a prude. ;)

  2. Kristin F. says

    Love this post, and will be praying you, your husband, and your family. Big changes can make for a tough, bumpy road, but I LOVE and truly appreciate your open honesty about this uncomfortable topic. My husband and I have had our tough moments, but praying and doing everything you listed here brings us out of the rut and reignites our marriage. And yes, don’t keep it G-rated. ;) (insert school-girl giggle)

    Thanks for once again encouraging me through your very honest and heart-felt posts!

  3. Bethany says

    Thank you for this post! Very refreshing and encouraging. Such basic things that we need to be reminded of and encouraged to keep pushing in our marriages.

  4. Kandace says

    Yes! Marriage is hard work, even if you mostly like the other person. :) But it’s also very rewarding. We’ve been working on our own “we’re not roommates” challenge and I must say it’s made a big difference in our stress levels. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Tracy S. says

    And sometimes you have to get creative toot be roommates! My hubby works 2nd shift and doesn’t get home until midnight 6 nights a week and our 4 year old is an early riser. I have be really, REALLY intentional to make sure I’m up a few times a week for him. Sometimes so much so that I set an alarm to wake me up before he gets home. ;)
    My little nugget of advice is never stop holding hands. If you keep even the smallest physical connection there’s hope in the darkest pit.

  6. Ann says

    Thank you!! We are working on putting our marriage first and forgiving our shortcomings. I have relied on several of your posts since starting this journey. I found you at about the same time. I appreciate all you share!

  7. Katie M says

    Love this post. This year started with sending our first to school, go on bedrest for premature labor for 5 weeks (with 2 boys at home and enduring lice and a cracked head), having preemie the week before Christmas without being ready, going back to work moving unexpectedly the next month finding a foundation crack and going through that , all while working nights. We are exhausted and it’s been hard on our marriage but this post hit the nail on the head and we even have the same love languages. Thank you for the reminder and I feel that through this move you have become more transparent and your posts are more meaningful. Thank you.

    • says

      Yikes! You’ve been through a LOT!

      I hope, somehow you’re able to have a little breathing room in your lives to recover from all the exhaustion you must be experiencing. {Hugs!}

  8. says

    Crystal!! This rocks! And exactly the encouragement I needed! My husband is in warrant officer school (army national guard), and we are dealing with a flare up with my dysautonomia and raising 3 under 6… its just tough! But making the effort to practice Kevin Leeman principles seriously helps us glide through it all! Thank you for your honesty. God has given you an amazing platform to share His truth!! You’re always a blessing!!!

  9. Joy says

    Love the first pic of y’all. Such a beautiful couple. :) My advice after almost 20 years of marriage (and three boys now in their tweens and teens) is to never take each other for granted and appreciate the small things you do for each other, even if it’s just filling your gas tank in your car. Also, make time for date night at least once a month. Even if it’s just going for a walk or watching a movie together at home. And, don’t always be such a nag or nit picker to your spouse. Choose your battles even if their bad habits annoy the heck out of you. lol

  10. says

    My husband and I are blessed with an amazing marriage. In addition to the five great tips above(all of which I totally agree with!), one thing that has really helped us is being completely honest with each other about everything. My husband is full of integrity and is one of the most honest people I know. I knew that about him long before we were even dating and it has helped me cultivate that valuable characteristic. Having no secrets and being completely honest with one another has blessed our marriage all around.

    I recently read something about the 15-second kiss. It’s not a challenge when you’re dating of first married, but after years, kisses don’t last nearly as long. The article I read said that the secret to a long, happy marriage was at least daily 15-second kiss! After reading that and trying it out, it definitely caught my husband by surprise (which actually made me start laughing mid-kiss). I told him about what I read, so now we’re both in on it. :)

    • says

      Stephanie, I second the honesty thing! I have a husband like yours and he has helped me learn SO much about being honest and I’m convinced that it has helped our relationship immensely.

      And I also recently read something about the 15 second kiss and well, it’s been fun! ;)

      And Crystal, thanks for this very honest encouraging post! You said it so well! We’ve only been married 7 1/2 years but with 3 little kids 6 and under, remodeling a house, losing a newborn daughter, returning to college (my husband) as well as the usual daily things, it’s felt like it’s taken a lot of effort to keep our marriage strong- and we haven’t always done so well with it. But I agree that the 5 things you mention here have been key to us keeping the romance and relationship alive. Right now I’m really trying to work on your point #3. Why is it SO easy to focus on the little things that annoy us instead of all the amazing, helpful, good things? Anyway, again thank you for sharing this!

  11. Liz Bernard says

    This was a timely post for me. Thanks for being so transparent about this area of your life. Was truly an encouragement.

    And on an unrelated note, that teal color in your photo looks really good on you! ☺

  12. Valerie says

    Thanks Crystal for this great encouragement! My husband Ben and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage this coming week, and we have had a rough transition year due to a move out of state, having our fourth child, and both of us going through job transitions. We don’t have money to do much for our celebration, but I would LOVE to celebrate it in a wonderful way…if any of your readers have budget friendly, meaningful ideas, I could use some creative suggestions….thanks for your posts…your ministry means so much to me…Blessings, Valerie

    • says

      My advice: think about what would be most meaningful to your husband. Would it be a fancy at-home dinner, a night out doing some mostly-free fun, a movie night, a letter of encouragement, surprising him with something at work, sitting him down and telling him 25 ways you appreciate him… there are many, many ways to celebrate your marriage without spending money. Consider what would be most meaningful to him (or even just point-blank ask him) and then concoct a fun plan.

      Here’s to hoping you have a very fun and memorable 10-year anniversary celebration!

    • Amber says

      Also, check out thedatingdivas.com They are a group of Christian women who put together all kinds of ideas and articles about how to keep the romance going after marriage. They have a lot of frugal and “staying in” date ideas!

  13. Sarah says

    I’ve been married 8 years next month and all these tips are very true. Personally I find that the most important thing in a marriage is being able to communicate effectively without it turning it to the “blame game”. Trying not to play the victim when having an argument. You can have the best “romantic” relationship but if you can’t discuss things without it turning into a fight. It can harbor resentment. Every marriage has fights but it’s a couple love and willingness to make it work that help them grow together.

  14. June says

    Any advice for how to convince your husband to try to repair your broken marriage? I didn’t even know our marriage was broken, I would have told you any day we had the best marriage of anyone we knew. Then suddenly, 2 weeks ago he told me he needed a break. 1 week ago he told me he was done & I needed to get over it. I don’t believe he’s had an affair. The reasons that he has vaguely told me and confided in a few mutual friends is that I’m a poor housekeeper, I’ve promised to fix it over and over yet I never have. (When we married, I agreed to have a clean house & dinner for him when he got home from work…I forgot about those promises and broke them…). And ever since we had our first child in 2010 I’ve not been the same happy, confident woman I was when we first got married. My birth experience with my daughter was very traumatic for me and I’m just coming to realize that that is probably a big part of the happiness issue I’ve had for the past 4 years…but he just couldn’t take it anymore…never tried to fix it…yet he always swore divorce was never an option and I had nothing to do with why he was so unhappy. Our 4 year old cries herself to sleep nightly, and our 2 year old is obviously in a panic since he left. I have never known heartache such as this. I don’t know what to do…I can fix what I’ve done wrong…and I want to desperately because I want him to be happy…but I also want him to be happy with us. And I want my marriage to succeed. I’m madly in love with him and I can’t imagine that I could ever love another the same way. I don’t know what to do!

    • June says

      Also, I’m 14 weeks pregnant… And I’m so concerned about the identity issues my children could reap from this.

    • says

      I am so, so, so very sorry! My encouragement to you is to immediately find some local help — either through a church or counselor — to help you work through all of the trauma and emotional blows you are currently dealing with and to help you come up with steps of action for what to do next. The best thing you can do is to surround yourself with people who love you and are committed to walking this hard road with you and being there for you as you grieve, process, hurt, and (hopefully) work toward restoration with your husband.

      Also: maybe some other women who have dealt with similar situations here could chime in with some encouragement for you?

      I just prayed for you to find some good people to surround yourself with who will love you and counsel you through this difficult time.

    • Meegan says

      Oh my! I can only imagine how difficult life has become. Praying Psalm 46 for you sister. My only advice is to pray fervently… don’t hold to anxiety and the what-ifs (so easy to write, so hard to do!) but seek God. Find your comfort in His words, regardless of the uncertainty of your life right now. In Him there is rest.

    • Mam says

      I didn’t know my marriage was broken either. We have been best friends for 21 years, married for 16. I was blindsided by a request for a separation. He also does not want to work on it. He said he’s been working on this marriage for 21 years! It’s too late now but , I have found out that we were not speaking each other’s love languages. I am heartbroken and devastated, especially for my children. I asked my seven-year-old the other day how he was feeling and he said “Badder than if God died.” :(

    • Diane says

      I’m so sorry for all the challenges you are going through right now. I just said a prayer for your family, and I’ll continue to hold you in my prayers.
      I agree with Crystal that it is crucial to seek out a counselor–someone who is completely outside the situation and can look at things objectively with you.
      Hugs to you and your precious children!

    • cwaltz says

      June,

      I’d encourage you to seek some counseling regardless of the state of your relationship. It sounds as if you aren’t happy with who you are and where you are(and maybe the kiddos are picking up on this too). It also sounds like you are overwhelmed with where to start in areas that are difficult for you like organization. There are people who can help you with these things. The first step though is to figure out if the unhappiness is situational(which you can change to an extent by fixing what can be fixed) or if it’s organic(perhaps your pregnancy triggered hormonal issues that have made you depressed.) Your best hope for things working is to try and hit the reset button for you first. Your kids need a momma that is happy and confident in order to become happy and confident. I’m not sure about your relationship issues but perhaps if he sees the happy, confident woman he fell in love with showing him, rather than telling him (since you admit that you weren’t entirely honest on relationship expectations) that you are intent on fixing things, he’ll come around to giving the relationship a second chance. If nothing else though, you become the person you want to be and give your chilren a role model they can be proud of.

    • Anne says

      So sorry about this. I’m praying that you will find strength and good, sincere, committed people to help you through this. It will certainly take time to get better. Sending you my thoughts.

  15. Mary says

    We’ll be married 29yrs in October. For us looking at marriage as a covenant has been very important. The things I have found are my love language to my husband-greeting him at the door when he comes home from work (taught the children to do this too), a meal for his work lunch, sweeping the porch, not scheduling time away on his days off.

    We’ve been empty nesters for 2 years, it definitely gets better, he’s looking at me like he first did when we were dating. The children (in their 20’s now)are always watching, there is stability in knowing mom & dad care for each other.

  16. says

    I think all these are true and good advice. I would add be silly with each other. As life gets crazy it’s so easy to forget to laugh and be silly.

    To all the mamas out there with little ones remember this is just a phase In your life and it will pass. We’ve been married for 24 years. I remember times when the kids were little when I’d look at my husband and wonder what we would have to talk about once the kids were older. Now we have so much to talk about we barely mention the kids :).

    I hope you don’t mind, but last month to celebrate our anniversary I wrote about what marriage looks like after 24 years and thought I’d share it.

    http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/2014/07/what-romance-looks-like-after-24-years-of-marriage.html#more-1939

  17. Maya says

    Great post. (My 16th anniversary is in a week.) Something I have done in my marriage is to really be my husband’s partner. I am here to help and support him. For me that’s one of my jobs. It is harder now with 3 little kids but I still try. For example I try to go to his work events; some older women I know don’t go because they don’t enjoy them or are “homebodies.” Maybe it IS okay for their situation but it makes my husband feel supported for me to be there.

  18. says

    Oh thanks for #5! We are definitely going to take this quiz! I think the main thing that has kept our marriage strong is that we always keep in mind that our children are with us for a short time. Once they become adults and have lives of their own, it’s just us two. We don’t want to have to learn how to become “just us two” when it’s too late. We have less than 10 years now until our kids are off to college so in the grand scheme of things, it’s just right around the corner!

  19. Danae says

    Definitely one of my favorite posts of yours! I’ve read many a “5 tips for marriage” post on other sites, but for some reason, this one really impacted me. Thank you for #2!! In Christian circles, this is rarely talked about when discussing marriage. I’ve been married 5 years and have heard lots about having dinner on the table, the house orderly when my husband comes home, the kids relatively happy :), etc., but I think most men (my husband included!) would much rather a happy, non-G-rated wife than all those other things!

  20. Lori says

    Thanks for your very honest and informative post! Even though I love all of your money saving tips this was probably one of my favorite posts too! I find that the talk of strengthening your marriage is somewhat taboo. In my opinion, the world assumes that once you are married that you can coast and just live life and your marriage will be great! I’ve found that doesn’t work too well.

    Just to give you an example of that I once told someone that my spouse and I were going to a marriage conference and they then ask if we are having marriage problems. Yes, that may be the case for some, but why can’t it be normal for couples to attend marriage conferences, read books, or spend alone time together to strengthen their marriages? Sorry a little bit of a rant, but I definitely think we should all be talking more about how to build up our marriages. Thus, the reason why I love this great post!

    • says

      Yes, yes, yes!!! Coasting just doesn’t cut it!

      And I truly believe that the health of one’s marriage will have a trickle down affect into just about every other area of your life. Which is why it’s so crucial to make it a priority.

  21. says

    I love this article, and will re-read it this afternoon when the Saturday “everything in the world that needs to be done” list is over! I had an a-ha moment as well, it terms of our marriage. Just last night, my husband and I while sitting in the drive-through of our bank, and with several cars ahead of us, I began re-adding what we will need to pay bills (my husband likes to pay as many bills as he can in person), my shopping envelope, and savings. While adding up my figures for the tenth time, my husband reaches across the car and starting kissing my neck, lips, and for the next few minutes we are making out like teenagers. What stops us? The honking cars behind us, and as my husband pulls to the tellers window, apologizes for holding up the line, saying “my wife’s hot.” I grinned but diverted eye contact with the lady, and as we were pulling away, my husband says, “thank you for always keeping our finances in order, and saving us money at the store with your deals. You always take a load off my shoulders, by doing that.” I felt honored to still be the only woman he desires, as well as the satisfaction in knowing that I am being the helpmate he needs, though perhaps needing to be less type-A and rated-g! An awesome article!

  22. says

    My husband and I have been married over 28 years now. The first part of our marriage, I felt so alone. My family was never close and his family was in another part of the world. We just had each other. Our second child was born with cerebral palsy. Her care was so intense. We cared for her for 19 years at home with very little outside help and no family help. We had 2 more surprises–2 more girls!
    My health took a downward spiral after being diagnosed with MS. We had to make the tough decision to let her live in an independent home.
    Through it all we have become closer. We only have each other to raise these wonderful 4 girls. We spend quality time together as a family and we don’t have outside demands that take time away from each other(besides his job). I have always cooked, cared for kids and home. This relieved most of his extra stress when he gets home from work. The two youngest girls homeschool. This allows us to even have lunch together as a family. He now gets to have fun with them in the evenings and I enjoy watching them grow. 28 years and counting…

  23. Jenni Robertson says

    So I took the love language test and no surprise how they rank for me. So what do I do when my husbands #1 love language didn’t even rank on my love language?

    • says

      Your husband’s love language is what you do *for* him, not what he does for you (this confused me when we first read about it!).

      My husband’s love language is gifts, which is SO not mine! I started with trying to “give” him one thing each week – making his cup of hot cider for him in the fall, making sure his favorite dinner is on the menu sometimes, doing something that he really wanted me to get to (like replacing the button on his favorite shorts), dressing up for an at-home date, etc. Nothing big and definitely not expensive but little gifts were such a good thing for him. This was really stretching for me since I absolutely hate having gifts given to me when it’s not something I need but it helped me realize that gifts don’t have to be trinkets but just need to be from the heart!

      My love language is acts of service and let’s just say we’re still working on that ! :) He’s made huge strides with this one and I’m so grateful – it’s made me feel like he truly cares.

      Hope that’s helpful,
      Lea

      • says

        Just to encourage you, Jenni, my husband’s love language (quality time) is not something that would rank at all on my radar screen. So it’s something I’ve had to work very hard at… and something I continue to learn and work on. We talk about it a lot and we ask often: “Is your love tank full?” and “How can I make you feel more loved?”

        These questions really help us to know how to work on expressing love to each other in a way that speaks love to each of us.

        • Jenni Robertson says

          Thanks for the encouragement. So mine is quality time and his is physical touch. So I have gained a lot of weight since we first started dating and got married so like any touching makes me uncomfortable since I am uncomfortable in my own skin. Just having a hard time trying to fulfill his love language.

          • Linda says

            I read another blog called Brittanyherselfdotcom. She writes about her issues with weight, and how she and her husband decided to have relations every day for a year (August 2013), because she was avoiding intimacy at all cost and it was affecting her marriage.
            Please be forewarned – she’s not a Christian, and is very explicit with her language, so her blog may not be for those who are sensitive to words. I choose to take in what helps me and ignore the rest.

          • Jenni Robertson says

            just to mention as well, I have not been able to “be with” my husband sober in probably over a year. It’s like I have to drink in order to feel vulnerable and comfortable enough to get that close :(

  24. Lana says

    My husband and I have been married for over 36 years. The one thing that every wife can do that will absolutely change your marriage is to respect your husband. There are hundreds of ways that we disrespect them and I can tell you for sure that respecting him in ALL things will change your lives like nothing else. Try it and see!

    • Jennifer B. says

      Totally agree with your comment on wives respecting our husbands, as well as Crystal’s points in the post.

      For those wondering more about the respect aspect, please do a little research on Dr. Eggerichs (wrote Love & Respect).

  25. says

    We have been married for 7 1/2 months, and just this week discovered the power of making decisions together. We were in a big car wreck that left our car still working perfectly mechanically but the bills to fix the damage (so that it would pass safety inspection) were more than we could afford. We made the decision to sell the car and committed together to find a car under the money we received from selling it so that we would be debt free. We prayed like crazy, discussed options, test drove a few, and asked advice, but ultimately we made the decision together. We are a one-car family and the car that was wrecked was the car I had purchased when I was single, so this one is truly OUR car. Realizing that we can work together on such a big issue has been great for us!

  26. Rhonda says

    Thank you for sharing! This was much needed today. Each of the given points are things we struggle with, especially with 3 little ones (5y, 2y, 1y)! We always are busy! Not many people who share blogs are this truthful, so thank you again very much! Your the 3rd person recently to recommend Sheet Music, gonna have to get it! Thanks for being a blessing!

    • says

      You’re in a very exhausting season… hang in there, take babysteps, and do what you can do to invest in your marriage — even if it feels so small because your time and energy is limited right now. {Hugs!}

  27. Cheryl says

    Love this post too. We have been married 22 years and had a rough spot about 5 years ago. With the help of our pastor, family and friends we got through it. It is so important to love each, laugh together, and just be together. I agree with you Crystals in this post! Be his cheerleader, realize men/women have differences and respect each other’s differences. Celebrate your marriage every day even in simple ways-Thanks again for this post!

    • says

      It’s often those little everyday things that can make such a big difference, isn’t it?!

      SO grateful to hear that you both made it through your rough spot. I hope that gives encouragement to other readers here who are struggling right now.

  28. WilliamB says

    Massive kudos to you for specifically mentioning abusive relationships! You give a good vibe with that alone.

    • says

      The last thing I want this post to do is to heap guilt upon those who are in a marriage where only one party is willing to work on things. Or worse, to heap shame and guilt upon a spouse who is currently living under the oppression of an abusive spouse. My heart hurts so much for these folks and I want to encourage them to do everything they can to get help ASAP.

  29. Anonymous says

    I am all for not keeping marriage G-rated, but remember that romance can comes in many forms. Chronic illness for most of our marriage (22 years) has greatly inhibited the physical act of marriage; however, romance is alive and well. If you or your spouse are not well, remember that flirting, speaking what you WOULD do (to them and for them) if you could, “chair dancing”, lots of hugging, holding hands, massages or whatever IS possible, can keep that spark alive and the love tank as full as possible, under the circumstances.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3li22ImYAo

    My romance doesn’t have to have a moon in the sky
    My romance doesn’t need a blue lagoon standing by
    No month of May, no twinkling stars
    No hide away, no soft guitars

    My romance doesn’t need a castle rising in Spain
    Or a dance to a constantly surprising refrain
    Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true
    My romance doesn’t need one thing, but you

    My romance doesn’t need one thing, but you

  30. Katie says

    Thank you for being so transparent. We are going through a rough patch right now. I needed these reminders.
    God brought us together so there is no reason to give up so easily.
    You are a blessing to so many people.

    • says

      {Hugs!} I am so sorry you’re going through a rough patch. I just prayed for you, for encouragement, for oneness in your marriage, and for hope.

  31. Karen says

    Thank you so much for the encouragement I get everyday from your blog. My husband and I will celebrate our 24th anniversary this month. We are childless, but we have several “surrogate” children. Our relationship greatly improved when I really began listening. He likes for me to notice what he has done around our home. I used to just think that was just part of his responsibility, but I finally realized all he was wanting was for me to say, “thank you, ” such an easy request.

  32. cwaltz says

    I’ve been married for 21 years and I really don’t think there is any one way to keep your marriage strong. However, I do think that as marriages age that there is a tendency to take each other, and what you each contribute, for granted. I also think that people tend to think that after you’ve been married long enough that their spouses should be able to read your mind. As aggravating as it is sometimes, it’s important to let your partner know what you need from them if you find they aren’t providing it automatically. I’ve been known to tell my spouse that he needs to make time for me and only me a time or two. I also instituted an allowance since my “job” doesn’t pay me. This way I don’t have to ask permission every time I want something or if I want to get a gift for my spouse. It also givs me a little boost to b able to treat myself after a long week without having to force him to treat me after he also has had a long week. Again, I’m not sure this would work for everyone. It does, however, work for us.

  33. says

    Aww!!!! I love this post!!!! For two reasons, the content is amazing and so true but mostly because I lived in Belize as a child and seeing that picture of you next to the ruins just made my heart leap with joy!

    • says

      We LOVED visiting there earlier this year as a special celebratory trip. So beautiful and rich with history… and we fell in love with the people there!

  34. says

    These are all great tips! I love that you advised looking for the good. Before my husband and I had kids his messy ways got on my nerves. However, now they don’t even bother me. I know he works hard to take care of us all. So I see the positive and just clean up after him….lol.
    I need to find out his love language and also the love language of my six year old.
    I love reading all your personal posts.

  35. Lety says

    Wow!!! You are wonderful, Crystal!!! I greatly appreciate you being so open with us. You will probably never know how many lives you touched with this post. Mine included, as my husband and I are working through an issue.

    Late last year I began a Why I Love You Jar. My intention was to write daily one sentence reasons. However, when I began writing these, I couldn’t stop writing!! So he is read a mini love letter everyday. I haven’t been consistent due health issues, but your post made me realize it’s time to get back on track :) Thank you!!!’

    I also want to thank you for encouraging women to seek help if they are in an abusive relationship. I have never seen this done on posts of this nature. You are a great and responsible blogger. I feel blessed to have your encouragement.

    • says

      You are such an inspiration! And I hope I get to meet you in real-life sometime so I can verbally express just how much your life and comments touches mine!

      Also: I LOVE the Why I Love You Jar idea! Brilliant!

  36. Rebecca says

    Great article & love reading other’s comments! My husband & I have been married for 5 years, together for 10. We have a great marriage but still learning new things together & working on bettering ourselves & our relationship. We have had a lot of change in the past 4 years…we became a military family, moved 13 hours away from family & friends, dealt with life-threatening illness of my husband’s, welcomed our second child, and now are weathering the storm of my own illness (still waiting on a diagnosis). We have come a long way from the 10th graders who fell in love in roll call :) Your spouse almost dying really puts everything in perspective. All the little things that used to annoy me, I am so grateful for today. Moving away from everything & everyone we knew has made us so much closer & more reliant on each other. And we continue to learn & grow together, especially now that we are dealing with his deployment.

    Crystal had an article on here not too long ago about celebrating the little everyday things, and we have taken that to heart! We are celebrating one month down! Sometimes we celebrate getting through the week, sometimes it’s getting through the day! We are realizing all the things we take for granted, and learning to be thankful for every little thing. Time apart, as painful as it is, gives you new perspective. I miss everything from his smile & laugh, to his cologne lingering in the morning, to even his clothes in the floor :) Things that I maybe would have complained about before, I absolutely can’t wait to get back.

    I’m no expert, and have no good advice for anyone, except just love hard. Love with everything you have. You never know when your number will be up, and you never realize everything you would miss until it is gone. Love your kids, your spouse, your family, your pets, your life. Love yourself! There is always love to go around!

  37. Mary Johnson says

    This was a great article. We have been married over 40 years and I can only say that all the hard work you have to put in during the first several years is so worth it. We have come to place in our marriage where we are so happy, our kids are grown, we have 9 grandchildren, and we love our lives together. We made a point o saying “I love you” if not once a day, several times a day. Never take it for granted the other knows. And we always have found each other whenever we get home, to connect with a kiss and an “I love you.”

  38. says

    All of these ideas are great! I liked the “be silly” idea. Any time we seem to be strained in our marriage, just doing something “fun” like playing a board game, having a in-home couch date (with a redbox movie), or something really equally small really makes a big difference. I’ve seen too many marriages where people don’t even seem to like each other as they get older. I married my best friend, and he’s become an even better friend as the years and challenges go by (15 years and counting).

  39. Shelby says

    Thank you so much for this post Crystal. It gives me hope for a future healthy relationship. I did try some of these suggestions, however as your post notes, this article is intended for couples in healthy relationships & mine was not. I gathered the strength & courage to leave my now ex-husband and am now able to put all of my engery & love into our two beautiful children.

  40. Janice says

    Very, very, very good advise. But, let us not forget that God should be first and in the center of our marriages. There has been many many times that being on our knees praying to the Father, the One who truly understands our weaknesses, has saved our marriage. We tell newly married couples all the time that marriage will be the hardest job you will ever do and to keep God in the center.

  41. Nicole says

    This is a great post and I agree with all five points. It is so easy to just coast, especially when life gets tougher with small children (or children of any age really), financial issues, extended family issues, and the list is never-ending. I think all of the “issues” are so much easier to handle when you have a really strong, healthy, loving foundation to come back to. My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years and together (on and off, but always friends) for over 20. We try to do one romantic gesture for each other once a week. I might leave a love note for my husband in his lunch box or my husband may slip a note in my car for me to find. Sometimes, he’ll let me sleep in on the weekend and run out to get me Starbucks. These are little things that cost little to no money, but it’s great being surprised. You never know when it’s going to happen in the week so it’s a little like that initial excitement you had when you first met that’s so easy to lose in a long-term relationship.
    Alos, we have “exchanges” where we each tell the other three things we love and/or appreciate about them. We do this a few times a week (at least we try to) and we do it eye-to-eye. It’s not only get to hear what my husband has to say, but it makes me really think about what I love and appreciate about him.

  42. Tammy says

    What a great post, thank you for sharing. Would love to see more posts like this on your site.

  43. Kim says

    Thank you for the link to the love language quiz. My husband and I had taken the quiz when we were first married. I took it again using the link and I found out that my love language had actually changed since we were first married. No wonder my husband wasn’t hitting the right buttons anymore.

  44. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. My husband and I are struggling right now and I am realizing how I have not been the wife that he has needed me to be. I know that he still loves me and I can see that in the things that he does with me and for me but I also know that he has developed feelings for someone else. I keep praying that God will work a miracle in our lives and that I can be the wife that he needs me to be. I am trying to be patient as I allow God to work in our lives but it is very difficult for me.
    Thanks again for your advice!

  45. Adrian Ford says

    Crystal, thank you for opening up and being real and transparent about your marriage. This is really encouraging. I have a little more energy to push through the issues in my marriage. Thank you.

  46. Lydia says

    June and Mam,

    I am just reading this post now, so sorry for my delayed response. I have been single mommying my four boys for 10 years now. I, too, had a husband whobjust decided it was too much work. No matter what happens, I can PROMISE you that God is a VERY faithful husband and father to the fatherless. Lean into HIm, find His promises to you and pray them for yourself and your children. Don’t read the negative studies; having Jesus in the equation breaks all the bonds, fears, cycles. My oldest is now 16; my children are stair-steps, and each one is a blessing and a good son! I may even be getting re-married soon! It’s been a hard journey, but such a life transforming one. I would never trade the relationship I have with God; he has taught me SO many things through this trial, and now I am able to comfort others, with the very real comfort He gave me through Himself and others. “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.”