Marriage is all too often viewed as the end goal of a relationship, the final stage which you cannot progress beyond. This is unhelpful both for those who are married and for those considering marriage. In reality, marriage is perhaps more helpfully viewed as an ongoing journey – something which we continue to work at long after our engagement and our wedding day.
Ask yourself these 4 questions to see how you’re doing. Be honest. Then discuss your answers with your partner.
- When did I last make a compromise?
When a marriage takes place, two independent people come together and choose to act as one. This coming together involves compromise and it can take time to adjust our priorities to increasingly put our spouse first. Marriage is designed to be a relationship of intimacy, where we grow to depend on each other more and more. This doesn’t happen automatically; in marriage we have to choose to intentionally invest in our relationship in order to see it flourish.
- When did I last forgive or say sorry to my partner?
Forgiveness is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage because conflict is inevitable. Often our independence can be hard to let go of, especially as we will bring different experiences and expectations to the relationship. Choosing to say sorry and to forgive each other when there has been conflict opens up a way for reconciliation to take place and for the marriage to continue to move forward. It isn’t just internal conflict which can disrupt our marriages, life is never simple and external pressures and difficulties are often present. When we choose to face difficulties together then they become an opportunity to grow towards each other rather than apart. By choosing to champion and support our spouse, our marriages become stronger and we find ourselves in a better position to face adversity.
- When do we connect emotionally and physically?
Communication is important in all our relationships and marriage is no exception. Effective communication helps to build emotional connections between us and our spouse and results in us knowing that we have been heard and listened to. Of course it’s not just words which communicate how we feel, our body language is just as important. In marriage the ultimate body language is sexual intimacy. Sex isn’t an add-on to marriage, it’s a central part of the relationship. Like marriage, our sex life is something which requires work; as a married couple we must invest in our emotional intimacy if sexual desire is to increase with time rather than fade.
- When did we last have a date night?
Making time for one another never happens by accident so it is essential to prioritise time together in order for our marriage to flourish. Many couples plan a weekly date night which helps to deepen the relationship between one another, as well as helping to keep the fun and romance alive. We don’t have to commit to doing anything fancy or expensive but choosing to be intentional with our time together can make all the difference.
Investing in our relationship week by week doesn’t just build shared memories together, it strengthens our journey through marriage. By choosing to invest in this way we create space for our relationship to continue to grow and develop.