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To the girl who is one tear away from throwing in the towel. To the mother who is fighting to keep her family together so that she won’t become a single mom. To the woman who has lost all hope and is thinking about finding happiness in another man. To the lady whose self-esteem is so low because your husband no longer romances you. There is hope! Don’t give up! Keep fighting, keep praying, keep pushing.

We all know that marriage is hard and that it takes work. It’s not unordinary for you to be madly in love one minute and then questioning your future the next.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for twelve years now. I wish I could say that it has been a walk in the park. I wish I could say that it has always been peaches and cream but realistically it hasn’t. The moment you can be honest with yourself and decide to truly give your marriage the fair chance it deserves is the moment you will never regret.

As you continue your journey to obtaining more out of your marriage here are 5 effective ways to guide you.

1. Kick Expectations To The Curb

Dismiss the idea in your head of what you think a marriage is supposed to be. A spouse, kids, a dog, white picket fence, rich and happy sounds amazing right!? But what happens when your finances aren’t in order? What happens when having children is no easy task? What happens when your reality just don’t measure up? You become unhappy, you feel disappointed and you have a pity party.

But what if I were to tell you there’s away to avoid the feeling of being let down? What if there was a way to control our own happiness? I have good news for you, there is! It worked for me and my marriage and I’m confident that it can work for yours as well.

I remember when we relocated to Houston almost six years ago. We had no family, friends or resources here. As a result, we knew that life as we knew it would change temporarily. We knew that our outings would need to be family friendly as a result of having no babysitter and that there would be no fancy date nights or spontaneous getaways for while. I was a SAHM at the time. My days were consumed with caring for the kids. So when KB finally came home from work  I expected some adult time. I expected to still be romanced. I expected conversation, outings, and for someone to finally take care of me. All of these expectations led me to disappointment after disappointment. After working all day his energy was directed toward self-care, rest, and unfortunately we got what was left over. All the nagging and complaining went on deaf ears…

THEN, I came across a quote on Pinterest that read “when you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be“. I saved it and read it over and over. I then applied this to my marriage and a miracle happened! I found myself in control of my own happiness. I didn’t expect him to come home and say lets play games, or let me cook for you, or lets snuggle. With renewed thinking when he did do those things I saw him in a new light, I appreciated him more and I was a happy girl!

The thing Is when you kick your expectations of your spouse to the curb you start to appreciate them for what they bring to the table instead of what you think they should bring to the table. For example, instead of expecting your spouse to change the baby’s diaper, just do it yourself. So when he does step up and help it feels like a bonus. And as a result, you look at your spouse in a whole new light. Now your perception is that your spouse is helpful, caring, a team player, selfless, etc…and you’re no longer held captive by expectation. The reward? Happiness!

I challenge you to try it. You won’t regret it!

2. Date Your Mate

It’s important to spend one-on-one time with your spouse. No children, no work, no interruptions! Everyday life has a way of throwing daily distractions your way that cause you to sometimes lose focus on the people who mean the most. We rush through life, low on time, and stressed about what didn’t go right that we sometimes put our marriages on the back burner.

I often find myself sitting on the couch with my husband watching television. He’s on one side of the couch and I’m on the other. Guess whose between us? The kids! Sometimes when he get in from work i’m already in bed and we’ve missed all opportunities to communicate for the day. It’s life, things happen but it don’t have to be your reality. As a result, I decided to make dating a major staple in our lives. I plan one major date a month and if we’re lucky we get to fit in more. It’s a time to laugh, reflect, bond, reminisce, plan and remember why you fell in love in the first place. That alone time is the glue that keeps the bond tight. Hold hands, take selfies, dress up, try some place new! It can be free, cheap or within budget just do it.

 

3. Pray For Your Spouse

Prayer should be the foundation for your marriage. You should be praying for your spouse on the daily basis. All the nagging and complaining will not change your mate and if it does, that change will be temporary. But I’m here to tell you that prayer will change your mate and that change will be permanent.

My first couple years of marriage was rough. I had a ton of expectations that weren’t being met. I incurred disappointment after disappointment. I hit road block after road block. I nagged and I complained. I mean I was fed up and questioning why in the heck I got married in the first place!

I was gifted a book from my sister called “The Power of A Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian and it literally changed my ball game. You can find it here. This book brought tears to my eyes and it’s exactly the guidance I needed on how to handle the situation I was faced with (I will do a separate review on the book). However, it placed on my spirit to pray for my husband and that’s exactly what I did. I prayed morning, noon and night. I mean I was praying a very specific prayer. I was praying for KB to be a better husband, a better father. I prayed for him to be more attentive to my needs. I prayed for peace, growth, discernment and favor between us and more. I’m not gone lie, the results weren’t instant but I kept praying and I kept the faith.

One day KB came to me out of the blue, on his own. He recited to me word for word exactly what I had been praying to God for. He told me he was going to be a better husband, a better father, more attentive, more sacrificial and poured his heart out to me. I was in total disbelief and I still am to this day. It was nothing short of God’s grace. It’s as if he heard my cry and plea to God.

So when you feel like all hope is lost, when you feel like giving up, when you feel alone, lost, neglected, confused and disappointed with your spouse instead of taking matters into your own hands, or bad mouthing him to family and friends just pray for your spouse and let God do all the work for you.

4. Stop Comparing Your Relationship To Everyone Else’s

What God has for you is for you! You are truly sabotaging your marriage if every chance you get you are comparing your relationship to someone else’s. Just because Tyrone and Felicia go on dates and post their selfies all over social media don’t mean they are happy. Just because Jason and Crystal just had a baby don’t mean they are happy. Just because John and Tiffany are traveling the world don’t mean they are happy. Just because Eric and Sally run a successful business don’t mean they are happy. So stop focusing on everybody else relationship and focus on your own. Don’t nag your spouse about what somebody else is doing or where somebody is going. Create the life you want and do whats best for YOUR relationship.

Maybe your husbands strength is using his hands and tending to the yard. Don’t get jealous and start feeling like your husband don’t measure up because someone else’s husbands strength is cooking and he showers her with food. You knew who your husband was before you married him. You knew what his strengths and weaknesses were. Trying to keep up with the Jones and allowing these negative feelings to manifest in your heart will set your marriage up for failure. So stop and appreciate your husband for what he does have to offer. Afterall, God made him just for you!

5. CHEAT

And no, I don’t mean go out and cheat on your husband! But rather…

  • Care – Show your husband that you care. Little gestures go a long way. Put a love note in his lunch or on the windshield of his car. Make sure you keep his favorite things stocked around the house. Cook his favorite meal. If you hate sports, put your pride aside and tune in with him. Showing that you care don’t have to be elaborate things all the time it just needs to be something.
  • Hug – Hug him when you see him. Hug him when you are about to leave him. This nonverbal gesture creates a bond between you two. Ain’t nothing greater than hugging a man that smells good! He’s your husband, smell him, sink into his embrace. Get him girl!
  • Encourage – You should always encourage your husband. You all should be best friends. You should be his biggest fan and cheerleader. Pray for your husband, pray together. If he is having a bad day give him some words of encouragement. Growth is important in relationships. If your spouse is the same today as he was 5 years ago something is wrong. If you see an opportunity that’s a step up for him bring it to his attention. Encourage him to be his greatest!
  • Ask – Ask your husband what his goals are and help him smash them. Ask how he’s feeling and how you can make it better. His interest may change with the season and you wont even know it if you don’t ask. Communicate!
  • Touch – You need to be creating intimacy within your marriage. Touch your husband! They like to be caressed just like we do. If you are on one side of the bed and he is on the other roll over and snuggle with him. If you’re in the car, grab his hand. If you aren’t in the mood for intimacy you need to slide in the bathroom and have a little pep talk with yourself and come back out with a smile on your face. Intimacy is a strong love language and it’s needed to keep a strong connection.

I hope that testimonies and suggestions inspire you in your own marriage. Also, I would love to hear about some of the ways that you get more out of your marriage.

What are you waiting for!?! GO OWN YOUR FANCY!