Sadly, as someone who studies marriages, I see more and more marriages that are just going through the routines of marriage without really enjoying the journey. At the same time, I do know couples who have learned how to make their marriage work for the good of both spouses and are truly enjoying life together. My wife and I want to be included in the latter group.
What does it take to put or keep fun in a marriage?
Here are a few tips I shared recently at a pastor’s retreat:
Prioritize your marriage – Make your marriage a priority in your life.All of us would say that our marriage is a priority, but do we practice what we believe?Our marriage should take precedence over every other human relationship and every other activity. My wife knows when I am putting her first and when something else has my greatest attention.
Schedule time for fun – We should schedule time to simply enjoy life with our spouse. Everyone I know is busy, but we should make sure our schedule never gets too crowded to enjoy time with the love of our life. As a pastor I am never really “off work”, but I try to “be home” when I am home. Still, I will often hear my wife or my children ask me something like, “Are you really listening to me or are you thinking about your next appointment?” We must set boundaries between our home and our work or other activities. We should schedule opportunities to have fun together. When is the last time you and your wife went on a date?
Let worry go – Life is full of struggles. Struggles will never completely disappear, but we should learn how to balance the need for control in our lives and the desire to live at peace and trust God through the hard times of life. It is important that we not allow struggles that come into the marriage to tear the marriage apart, but instead we should let our trials draw us closer to each other.
Expect surprises – Stuff happens! We know that; we see bad things happen everyday, but for some reason we are caught off guard when they happen to us. We should not be surprised when our marriage needs a little extra help because of the struggles of life.
Celebrate along the way – I have been told that it takes three or four positive life occurrences to offset every negative. If this is true then each of us need to look for opportunities to celebrate the good things of life. When times are especially stressful my wife and I try to make sure we are remembering the positives in life. They are always there, but we have to sometimes look for them. Recently in an especially stressful week on an especially tedious day, my wife and I were slightly tense with each other. One of our boys said something, which may have otherwise seemed insignificant any other time, but helped us remember on this day how blessed we have been together.
Enjoy each other’s interests – It’s okay to have outside interests, but one of the goals of marriage is to enjoy life together. That usually involves enjoying each other’s activities together. I don’t like to shop necessarily, and there are certain stores where I refuse to shop, but I go shopping regularly with my wife because I love my wife and she loves shopping. It’s always amazed me that when I invest the time to shop with my wife she always tries to give back to me by allowing me to enjoy one of my interests.
Get away – We all need time away from everything. On a pastor’s income I can’t usually take fancy vacations, but I am not afraid to invest in my marriage. My wife and I love to travel. One of our more fun things to do together is to plan an inexpensive day trips. There is something about physically leaving the environment in which we are comfortable that pushes us closer to the ones we love.
Serve Together – We have discovered that the more we serve other people together the more fun we have in our marriage. Taking mission trips have become a fun way to spend time together. Serving our church together brings us closer to each other.
Little things matter – Moments in a marriage that may seem to be minor details have the potential for major impact on the marriage relationship. It is important to handle little issues or conflict before they become big things. If a husband and wife have a minor disagreement it can easily escalate into a major division in the relationship if left unattended.
We should also allow little pleasures to bring happiness to the marriage. One of my favorite times of day is the walk my wife and I take around the neighborhood in the afternoon. That few minutes each day keeps us close relationally and helps me to see my wife in a fun setting.
Laugh at life – I read a statistic once that preschoolers laugh an average of 300 times a laugh an average of 17 times a day. The older we get the less we laugh. Laughter is good for our health and laughing together builds stronger relationships. Couples need to learn to laugh through life together.
Dream together – When couples are dating they seem to have fun discussing their future plans. Once we get married we tend to lose the art of dreaming. Dreaming inspires and encourages the heart. Dreaming together as a couple keeps the relationship fueled with new passions and desires.
Spread the pain – I am trying to model my pastoral responsibilities like the Acts 6 model in the Bible. I am learning that I cannot do everything.I shouldn’t try to live my life alone. Don’t be afraid to say “no” in order to protect your marriage. Many couples I know are so busy they never have time just for the two of them. It is also important, however, to have some close friends with whom we can share life’s burdens. None of us were meant to live on an island to ourselves and the same is true for married couples.
Try these steps and see if the fun comes back into your marriage. Marriage is supposed to be fun!
What tips do you have for making marriage fun again?