My husband, Jerry, and I both readily admit that we had a tough second year of marriage. The lines of communication were disjointed and fractured. And, as a result, good old-fashioned arguments were the norm. During that early season of our lives together, we both wondered if our marriage was going to be more than we were cut out to handle. Most of the couples I know have had at least one similar season in their lives.
Thankfully, good mentors and the maturity that comes with time taught us how to rise out of that tough patch and create a stronger, healthier relationship with each other.
Now, 16 years after I walked down the aisle to the man of my dreams, I look back and see how far we’ve come—how much growth has occurred. I’m grateful and looking forward to the journey ahead. I’m far from being an expert on marriage, but I have learned a thing or two along the way.
1. You Can't Rush a Good Thing
If your marriage has been neglected, if you haven’t spent enough time investing in your relationship, you aren’t going to be able to rush the course correction. Like drops of water filling a bucket, the slow dripping of neglect will eventually be a heavy load to carry. So, dump it out. Start fresh and begin investing drops of attention, intimacy, passion, and kindness instead. That load is much lighter to bear. Day after day, invest in your spouse and the health of your relationship. Over time you will refill your relationship with good things and will reap the sweet and lasting effects.
2. Kindness Is Underrated
I’m convinced that one of the most impactful things you can do for your marriage is to be kind. I play the role of Elizabeth in War Room, a new feature film from the Kendrick Brothers. Elizabeth’s husband is careless with his words and disinterested in his marriage. Every harsh word and callous, hardened glare penetrates her heart like a dagger. The lack of kindness and care in their marriage is staggering. Give your spouse the simple respect and thoughtfulness you want to receive from others. Plain and simple: smile and be nice. You’ll be startled at the impact it will make.
3. Words Matter
Labeling your spouse, calling him names, and speaking badly about him to others is not only demeaning but lasting. Once spoken, words cannot be retrieved. They linger in hearts and minds long after they can no longer be heard. Be especially careful around your kids. Hearing you call Daddy lazy, or cheap or fill-in-the-blank, teaches your children to do the same. Speak well of your husband. Praise him publicly and watch him begin to rise up to the standard that your words set.
Each of these simple principles can literally change the trajectory of your marriage and also your own personal life. The power of patience, kindness, and edifying communication will lay a foundation for a great relationship—the kind that I’m looking forward to continuing to build with my husband. The kind that I’m encouraging you—inviting you—to share with yours.
Priscilla Shirer stars in the upcoming family drama War Room (August 28) and is author of Fervent: A Woman’s Guide to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and speaker. You can learn more about Priscilla’s ministry at GoingBeyond.com.