Cultivating Your Marriage Relationship

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by Anne Everitt

The year following the birth of our third child was the hardest year our marriage has yet seen.  Our kids were sick all winter… for months. Every time we would plan a date someone would puke or develop a fever or nasty cough; we had to cancel something like 7 or 8 times. The perpetual sickness left us isolated from friends and community. My husband felt extra pressure at work, adding to the stress.  We both felt exhausted, with little energy left at the end of the day to tend to our relationship, and we grew distant. It felt like even finding space to have a conversation about our need to have a conversation, was impossible! In the midst of this it seemed like we were not seeing eye-to-eye on anything… big or small.

In these hard and vulnerable seasons of marriage and parenting, I think the enemy whispers lies to us, something along the lines of “Why did you marry this person? You are so different and have nothing in common. This was a mistake.  Your love for each other has grown cold. You are growing apart and will only grow further apart. By the time your kids are grown you will be strangers.  You’d be better suited to someone else.“  Our culture and media also play into these lies… telling us that relationships should be easy and on fire all of the time or else something is wrong and the relationship wasn’t really “meant to be”.

The truth is, love is a commitment, through easy and hard seasons. When we feel it and when we don’t. And Biblical wisdom never tells us it is going to be easy or effortless, or that we ought to live our life solely out of emotions (wouldn’t that be a roller coaster ride?!). In fact, this is what 1 Corinthians 1:10 says (talking to believers in general—so this applies to all of our relationships, including our marriage):

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

In the middle of such a season of marriage, my husband and I desperately needed to re-establish… to cultivate, a life in common. Friends, cultivation implies effort. That can seem daunting when you already feel maxed out, but God wants this for our marriage and He wants to breathe life and provision where we are at our wit’s end. Part of walking that out involves obediently doing our part as the Spirit leads.  The very existence of this command tells us unity and relationships have never been easy. They must be cultivated. Worked at. Planned and prepared for, tended to. A life in common does not just happen on its own.

So how do you cultivate a life in common? The above verse gives us an idea: By being considerate of one another. Considerate…  characterized by careful thought— deliberate; careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others; thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others; attentive; showing kindness towards others; having regard for the needs of others.

Mamas, whether we are in an easy season of marriage or hard, these are some questions we can bring before the Lord to help us think deliberately about our marriage:

How can I consider my husband’s needs today?

How can I encourage, pray for, bless, and serve him?

What do I need to let go of in order to build unity in our relationship?

What can I do to cultivate a life in common with him?

What can we do for fun together?

What things did we enjoy doing together when we were dating that we have stopped doing (but could start again!)?

What can I do to improve our relationship?

What lies am I believing that I need to surrender to the Lord?

Do I need to forgive any hurts that have occurred in our relationship?

What things does he love or enjoy that I can do with him?

What can I do to make him feel loved and respected?

What emotions do I need bring in alignment with the solid ground of truth?

In what areas do I feel at my wit’s end? {Take some time to bring this to the Lord.}

:: :: ::

By God’s grace, following trials and triumphs, and with ongoing intentional efforts to cultivate our relationship, we are in a new season. For us healing came as we practiced being considerate of one another—  forgiving wrongs, putting each other’s needs first, letting go of things that were putting a wedge between us, and also making it a priority to have fun together. I thank God that seasons come and go. Little ones grow— even just a year changes everything, and suddenly we find ourselves with room to breathe again.

But for those of you who in the trenches of a difficult season in your marriage, know that you are not alone. Every marriage has these seasons. May the Lord breathe life into your marriage, may He speak to you— showing you specifically how to tend to your relationship, and may He bless your efforts as you walk in His wisdom and ways.

As I head into a New Year, I’m making it a priority to cultivate a life in common with my man. What is one thing you want to do to cultivate a life in common with yours this year? I’d love to hear!

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Comments

  1. Sam says

    Anne, thank you so much for this! You are so right: we do HAVE to get along with each other. I tell my two little girls this all the time-you have to eat your vegetables and you have to love each other! Honestly so often I put all my energy into loving difficult people (among them crabby toddlers!) and when my husband walks in the door it’s like I forget I’m supposed to be kind and considerate toward him, too. Thank you for the timely reminder of what Christian marriage is supposed to look like.

    • says

      I can relate to that Sam! I tell my girls that too… that they need to love and be the best of friends to each other. And also, I think sometimes by the time my husband gets home I’m just so tired that I can forget to be intentional towards him. I don’t want my marriage to take the back burner though, so intentionality towards him is my top priority this year!

  2. Rachael says

    Thank you so much about writing about marriage. If our marriage is off track then we are less effective as moms and our families are at risk. We have finally been able to carve time out for each other without children and it’s been such a blessing!

  3. says

    “May the Lord breathe life into your marriage, may He speak to you— showing you specifically how to tend to your relationship, and may He bless your efforts as you walk in His wisdom and ways.” I’m praying for this in a year that my husband and I will spend apart due to a deployment. Your words bring encouragement as to things I can be doing even though we are apart.
    THANK YOU!
    Btw, I’m so loving your site here!!
    Beth

    • says

      Hi Beth— saying a prayer tonight for protection over you both as your husband deploys and that the time apart will only strengthen and deepen your relationship. May God be near to each of you and sustain you through it. <3

  4. says

    Ouch, this one cut today. I’ve always thought my husband and I have had a great marriage, but the past year or so have been hard. I was in a car accident, and life revolved around my pain for awhile. We got out of the habit of just doing things together, and when the cultivation stops it feels…well…dead. No spark, no excitement. This was a word I needed to hear today. Thank you.

    • says

      Yes some seasons and circumstances are just hard and it takes a toll on everything. I hope and pray that you are healed and that you can have some great times with your husband in 2014!

  5. says

    Thanks for a great post! I am making my husband a priority for 2014 and find that it is a daily consideration of how I can prioritize him…one size doesn’t fit all each day! Three things I am trying to do on a regular basis though: serve without complaint (read: with JOY), keep my mouth shut when it doesn’t have something nice to say, build him up daily with kindness and words of esteem. Looking forward to the benefits not only to my man but to my heart as well!

  6. Tricia says

    Thank you for encouraging us to make our husbands a priority! Between homeschooling 4 kids, busy job, health problems and just life, I really struggle to pour into my husband as I should. I want to do better and have seen several different blogs on making your husband your focus this year…I hear you, Lord, loud and clear :)

    On a brighter note, when we dont have date time or money, I have found that sitting beside each other for dinner time or for family movie time (instead of letting kids pile between us, they can pile on our other sides :), etc is a great way for us to connect in the middle of the busyness. We end up exchanging funny looks or inside jokes and it really seems to help us connect and have fun together.

  7. says

    Love this, Anne! I’m in the middle of a challenging season now (husband in grad school, so we have to be crazy intentional about time together), so your post was encouraging and timely.

    It’s also just helpful to have someone else be honest about the fact that there are challenging seasons in marriages–and to be specific about what some of those challenges look like. I know there’s no “perfect marriage” but can still operate like mine should/can be–even just remembering that everyone has real ups and downs is kind of freeing. If that makes sense ;)

    I’m going to take some time to consider your (great) questions later. :)

  8. says

    This post gave me goose-bumps… So right on! Thank you for this specific list. I was just starting to ponder how we can grow together during this difficult season. I think, “Cultivating a life in common” will be my goal this year for my marriage.

  9. Sally says

    Sally, I would really like to go to the mom heart conf in irvine! I live in s AZ… I would want to take my 16 month old, still nursing w me, I see that I would be w her outside the conf room since she is mobile, does this mean that I can still watch the conf in this designated area?? Thank u!

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