Recently Gene and I attended a wedding. On each of the tables at the reception there was a little notebook made of index cards on a ring. The cover read, “What is your best marriage advice?” Yikes! My best marriage advice and without time to reflect! Gene said, “I’ll go get our drinks and we can think about it.” When he came back we came up with three pithy pieces of advice for the couple or couples in any stage of marriage.
- Be each other’s encourager. Life is hard. We need each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two people are better than one, because they can reap more benefit from their labor For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm, but how can one person keep warm by himself? Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.”
When one is down the other can encourage. Often encouragement is needed when the other person has done something that doesn’t deserve encouragement. Gene is always good to not remind me of my failure, but to give me fresh perspective of how I can do something differently to get a better result. He always encourages me that the mistake is not the end, but an opportunity to recalibrate and move forward. His encouragement not only encourages me in the situation, but it speaks his love for me.
- Listen. Listening speaks love. Listen to understand the other person. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the importance of listening to understand and the how-to. “One person’s mission is another person’s minutiae. To make a deposit, what is important to another person must be as important to you as the other person is to you.”* Reread that—“as important as the other person is to you.” By listening and caring deeply about what the other person cares about, we are showing them how much we care about them. Through our listening we speak love. A person who listens to us is the person we connect our hearts to.
- Talk. While it’s true most men can’t listen to their women go on and on like their girlfriends can, they do want and need to hear what we have to say. Talking with your spouse shares your heart. It is one way your man gets to know the true you.
Each of you brings different perspective, skill sets, experiences, and wisdom to the marriage. Part of your job as the wife (helper) is to share these with your husband. He needs to know what you know to be a better husband and man.
Also your husband is not a mind reader. He cannot know how you feel about something—your desires, wants, needs, and preferences—unless you tell him. Usually you will need to tell him more than once. This is not permission to nag, but guys sometimes forget stuff—even stuff that is important to them. Gene has reminded me of this many times! So say it to him in a fresh way, like he’s never heard it before. Remind him how great you think he is and also that you would love for him to take out the garbage.
These three pieces of advice are not the last word in how to have a good marriage, but they are a great foundation to start a marriage and a great way to grow a marriage “until death do you part.”
Which of these three pieces of advice do you find the easiest? Or the hardest? I would love to hear from you!
*Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York City: Simon and Schuster, 2004), 200-201.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.