Our eight-year wedding anniversary is a couple of months away, and I am more in love with my husband now than when I met him.
This is a big deal because this is my third and longest-lasting marriage. Before my dad passed away, we used to joke that for our kind, the third time was the charm. He finally found the right partner in his third marriage and he loved my husband. He died knowing I was married to a good, godly man.
All jokes aside, after my second divorce, I did not feel like I deserved a good man or a marriage. I mean, who screws up that badly and multiple times? I certainly did not feel I deserved a third chance.
The keys to wedded bliss at year 8 and beyond come from doing marriage differently. Not only have I learned from personal experience and providing couples therapy, but I also learned through the examples of my parents-in-law and my grandparents-in-law. Here’s how to feel like newlyweds regardless of how much time has passed.
God is part of our relationship
When I met my husband, he was a youth pastor and I was a beginner Christian. After we figured out how much we liked each other, we made a commitment to do things according to Biblical principles. The circumstances of our meeting could only be explained by Divine intervention and we owed Him the glory for putting us together.
Our marriage became a covenant not only to each other but to God, which means when bad things happen, we pray and we consult Biblical wisdom. And bad things did happen, some really bad things that should have ended in another divorce.
God in our marriage changed everything.
Because it’s about acting according to 1 Corinthians love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing.
Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13: 4–8, ESV)
Biblical love like this changes how you talk to each other, how you solve problems, how you plan for the future and discuss the past.
The other is more important than ourselves
Before I met my husband, my life was filled with selfishness and self-centeredness. From the day I met him, he put my needs before his and I learned to do the same. Not only are my needs secondary to his, but we actively look for ways to make life a little easier for each other. Like after watching me rub my hands after a full day of writing, he got me a Razer keyboard to take the stress off my hands. Or making sure his favorite midnight snacks are always stocked in the pantry. The small things make the most difference because they are small.
Love languages matter
If you’re in a relationship and haven’t read the book or taken the free online quiz to determine your love languages, stop reading this and click here now. My husband and I talk about our love tank levels all the time and make filling each other’s tanks a daily priority.
Showing my husband love during the day is easy and it not only makes him feel like my priority, but it fills me with joy knowing the little things matter so much. When I kiss and hold him as he wakes up, he knows I am on his side and he starts his day feeling loved. When I’m frantically writing at the computer, he massages my shoulders to relieve tension. Not only do I feel his love, but I can feel his confidence in me which gives me the extra oomph to persevere. Who wouldn’t want that?
Thanks to technology, the folks at 5 Love Languages even have a Love Nudge app! There is no excuse for not showing your spouse love.
I can honestly say my husband knows me better than I know myself. He tells me he studies me. At first, that made me giggle, but it shows how much he loves me through that effort to understand me. But he cannot read my mind. I had to learn to be open with him about my thoughts and feelings, so he could put context to what he saw.
Anyone who grew up in an emotionally repressed home is familiar with hiding or ignoring feelings because that’s what you learned to do. But now I’ve learned that being vulnerable with someone who loves you is what sets a relationship with that person apart from anyone else. I show my husband love by giving him all of me. Therefore, as my husband studies me, so I study him and I’ve learned as much from what he doesn’t say as I have from what he says.
We’re ALWAYS on the same team
It doesn’t matter what the issue is, my husband and I are always on the same side. I admire and respect him not only as my husband but as an honorable, courageous man. And I know he respects and admires me. We know this because we tell each other often and especially when either of us feels particularly overloaded or stressed. He reminds me of how he sees me and vice versa so we remember who we are and who is on our side.
When there are things we disagree on, we remind ourselves that we love and support each other which changes our approach to problem-solving. It’s not about how each of us as individuals can get what we want, but what will benefit and strengthen us as a couple. The worst things that can happen to marriage according to The Gottman Institute, the expert researchers on relationships, are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.
The Four Horsemen signal destruction.
It takes a conscious effort to resist these Horsemen. When emotions run hot, there are words that want to come out that surprise me, because they are from old, old, yucky habits. But because I am paying attention, I can stop them before they inflame a situation. It is a conscious love-based decision to stop and think before I say something that could hurt him. He does the same. Everything my husband does comes from love, therefore, when he is upset or frustrated it’s not about me and vice verse. We’ve learned to let each other know, “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the situation.” Then we can join forces against the situation instead of each other.
We make time for each other
Because I work from home and my husband is retired, we spend all of our time together. So it would seem. However, I have work and he has hobbies that keep us both occupied which means we are living and working in the same house but not really interacting.
The kind of time I’m talking about it classic date-time; quality time where life business stays out and we talk about our hopes, dreams, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. We have fun, sometimes way too much fun. But making time to be physically and emotionally close reestablishes that alliance between us. It solidifies that we stand for each other. It reminds us why we fell in love and why this man is my best friend and favorite human on the planet.
The beauty of loving someone wholly and completely is that each day I feel blessed to have someone who loves me unconditionally. That gift is amazing and wonderful! I show my husband gratitude for that every day by making sure he feels as loved as I do.
Loving your spouse on purpose is the simplest gift you can give each other. It doesn’t cost a thing except for time and intention.