By: Justin Murff
It seems like yesterday. I was a nervous 24 year old young man about to come face-to-face with my beautiful bride for the first time. The doors opened and she was stunning with her beautiful white dress on, tears streaming down her face and I all I could think about “Is she really going to be mine?”. Ten years later, I still look at her and stand in awe that God would give her to me as my bride.
Jenn and I have been working with our generation now for more than 11 years in ministry (one some capacity) and helping couples either prepare or salvage their marriages. In our own marriage, we have seen eleven moves in ten years, six total career changes, four kids brought into this world, one on to heaven, three graduate degrees, and have had more than our fair share of struggles and pain…but it has all been worth it.
Over the years, we have seen couples divorce, separate, and some come back together and move on towards a healthy marriage. Many Millennials, like Jenn and I, come from divorced homes where a healthy marriage was not modeled first-hand causing fear and anxiety in our hearts. When we talk with couples, the one question we get asked the most is: How do you guys do it? Here are 5 of the most important keys to a healthy marriage that we have implemented:
- Our Threesome Rocks! – Ok! Settle down, it’s not what you think. We realize that we could not have a healthy marriage alone. When we said “I Do”, we made a covenant before almighty God. From that day, we entered into an agreement with each other and with the Lord that we would be in it for the long haul.
- Choreplay helps – I try to show my love daily by small acts of kindness. Love is a word that has become far too casual in our culture today. Do I love Starbucks as much as my wife or Children? No, of course not. To love my wife is an intentional act that demands selflessness. I must put aside my own selfish desires and consider the needs and feelings of my wife first. I need to remember that despite my schedule and the craziness of daily life, I need to make sure to show my wife that I truly love her and my kids daily. We joke a lot about something we call choreplay, but when I stay up to do the dishes or make the bed in the morning, it’s a simple act that shows her that I love her. St. Paul of Tarsus wrote in a letter to the Corinthians that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV).
- Find the Whoopee Cushion – Laugh often and stay friends! Life is too short to not take a moment and enjoy the simple pleasures of life with your spouse. Our day usually begins with a cup of coffee and just enjoying the quiet, albeit brief moment we can have together to just laugh about something silly our girls did, or of something that happened the day before. Laugh often!
- Communicate often – I am a lot of things but I am not a mind reader, neither is she. When we are hurt or offended, we communicate that right away and do not let anger or frustration breed bitterness. We talk often and seek to actively listen to each other in a way that is constructive and restorative.
- Foster an atmosphere of dreams – I know that my wife is always in my corner and I am in hers. Always! It doesn’t mean that I am some blind “yes man”. There have been many times where we have called each other to the mat or gave words of wisdom or caution, but we foster an atmosphere of dreams in our home that says, “I want you to fulfill all that God has for you to do in our generation and in our lifetime.” That has led to some pretty crazy times and adventures but I can say our marriage is far from boring.
Marriage has been a tremendous blessing for me. To know that I have the commitment and love of someone who is in this for the long haul is deeply rewarding and humbling. Looking back to that hot Texas summer day when I said “I Do” reminds me that I would do it all over again.