So there I was. Sitting next to Layla on the couch, reading through some bible study notes with half my brain while the other half listened to Layla tell me about her day and whatever else was on her mind. Multiple men have informed me that there’s no such thing as multitasking and I clearly wasn’t able to actually do both those things at the same time, but to them I say, psshhh – you’ve obviously never been a woman. But I digress.
I’m chatting with Layla about her plans for a new Minecraft building, reading about Jesus with the Samaritan woman, listening to her explanation of how she definitely WASN’T talking in class even though the teacher thought she WAS, and too bad it’s not ok to talk back or she’ll lose her recess, when out of the blue she hits me with this gem:
“So mom, what are the three things I need to do to have a happy marriage?”
Say what? How did we get from Minecraft and talking in class to advice on a happy marriage? Why is my nine year old thinking about marriage, and how in the world am I going to narrow it down to only three things? Looking back on it I should have been less shocked considering the left field question about kissing she threw me over the summer, but at the time it took me a good 30 seconds to close my mouth and stop blinking my eyes and twitching like a confused kitten.
“Well……..let’s see…….hmmmm…….ok, here’s my opinion on what you need, baby.”
1. Invite God in
Invite God into every aspect of your marriage. Invite Him into your home, into your finances, into your family planning. As a couple, welcome His guidance and presence in the raising of any children you may have. Thank Him for the intimate moments and the peaceful ones. Rely on Him through the storms. You and your husband should pray together, give thanks together and intercede for one another. There will be moments when you have a hard time feeling love – so go to the source of all love. Go to the God that is love and ask for help. God created marriage. He wants it to succeed. He wants you to love one another – to grow together, to depend on one another and to make sacrifices for each other. He also wants to help you. So ask Him in.
2. Talk to each other
Unless you have a hidden super power I don’t know about, you can’t read minds, and neither will your husband be able to. So talk to each other. If you’re worried about something, tell him. If you want him to do something different or the same or not at all, let him know. If something makes you mad or sad or happy, tell him so that he knows not to do it again or to do it more often. And when he talks to you, LISTEN and REMEMBER. Make sure you pay attention to what he says so that he feels like you care about the things that are important to him. Don’t make the mistake of thinking he’ll pick up on subtle hints or cues. If your husband is anything like your father, subtle will be lost on him and hints will blow right past his head. Sometimes it may feel like you’re hitting him over the head with a hammer, but it’s worth it.
3. Put the other person first
This one is tough, and can go against basic human nature, but in my experience a marriage is happiest when both people are putting the other person first. When you make choices, think about how those choices will affect your husband. Just as a mom would put her children’s needs above her own, put your husband’s needs first. If he is doing the same, putting your needs ahead of his own, then you’re in a loving relationship where both of you are doing the best you can to build up and support the other person.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t nearly as eloquent when talking to Layla (I’ve had 24 hours to think more in depth about it, after all), but those are the three things I came up with when she asked. I imagine other people would have a different looking list, and perhaps I should have cheated and put some subtitles in there so I could get more in, but she seemed to be satisfied. I could tell because she nodded and started talking about Minecraft again.
What are the three things you would put on your list of ways to make a happy marriage?