Welcome to week three of our new series, This Is How We Do! This week, I rallied up some of the best advice of from my married girlfriends on creating a strong marriage through hard struggles. Growing together through the seasons takes hard work and daily intentional effort to get through the challenges that come up in our years of being married.
Whether it’s being a military wife, overcoming adversity, healthy compromise, deciding together on whether your family is complete, healthy disagreements, effective communication, facing infertility, being a supportive spouse…there are so many trials that we experience as husband and wife.
And to create a strong marriage with a firm foundation to get us through these seasons, we need to face these struggles together, work through them prayerfully, and take the necessary steps to make sure we grow closer through them not apart. Read below for some real and raw advice on This Is How We Do: Strong Marriages – growing together through the seasons!
“Communication is a big piece of marriage. Discovering and understanding our individual personality types (Myers-Briggs, Love Languages, Enneagram, DISC, etc) really helped us communicate well and clearly. We worked to see things from the other person’s perspective and realized that different doesn’t always mean wrong. For instance – my husband likes to think through an argument before speaking and I like to hash it out verbally. Just because he leaves the room and doesn’t want to talk to me immediately doesn’t always mean that he is blowing me off. Usually it means that he is processing through the topic to see if he is actually wrong, and formulating responses. When we realized that we argue differently we side-stepped many hurt feelings and unresolved anger.”
—Becca from @myjoyfulmoment
“My husband and I are approaching 15 years of marriage. We’ve weathered quite a bit together—including multiple moves, the death of a son, jobs changes, and raising four boys. Some days we don’t even recognize those babies who got married 15 years ago. What’s allowed us to grow together through all this change is intentional communication—where we not only check in on each other, but we also dream together, make plans, and learn more about each other with tools like the Enneagram. Conversation like this is rough with four boys age ten and under, but we know that without it (at least once a week), our marriage begins to sour and we drift apart.”
—Sarah from @Sarah_Westfall
on marriage counseling + classes
“We both have different communication styles, and knew that in order to create a strong marriage from the start we needed to put that at the top of our “to-work-on” list. So we dove in head first to marriage classes one we were engaged, starting with a 6-week pre-marital class that our church offers to engaged couples. After that, we took marriage classes regularly throughout the year as they were offered, and joined a young married’s (then young family’s one we started having kids) small group through church. Doing this together opened an entirely new dynamic of communication and understanding about the deep stuff we carried in our hearts and into our marriage – our love languages, our struggles, our strengths together, any issues we were facing, family planning, communication with each other. It is so important to us to continue to work on our marriage regularly with these outlets, and center it around Jesus. Just knowing that we are on each other’s team in that way makes our marriage that much stronger!”
—Becca (yours truly) from @theminiapartmentblog
“As our family dynamic is about to change again next moth with the arrival of our second baby, we decided to do a marriage “checkup” with our mentor/marriage counselor. Quarterly marriage “tuneups” or “checkups” have been a huge part of our marriage these last 10 years. I think it is SO crucial to have a third party, unbiased opinion to chat things through with, and to make sure that if there’s anything lurking under the surface, or issues that are brought up, they can be addressed in a healthy environment. I am a huge advocate for marriage counseling as a whole, even if you don’t think you currently need it. We go to the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning/checkup, our OB/GYN, etc. Shouldn’t our marriages also be a top priority?”
—Chelsea from @theranchgirl
on completing your family
“My husband felt 100% done and overwhelmed with the three kids we already had, while I had an intense longing in my heart for another baby. I asked my husband to at least agree to 30 days spent in prayer about it. The idea was that we would pray separately about this issue for a solid 30 days without discussing it. In the end, my heart’s desire was just as strong (if not stronger) after 30 days of laying this question at the Lord’s feet. After 30 days, my husband had hesitantly softened towards the idea and felt that the Lord was telling him to be open to trying. Thank you, Jesus! A year later, we had our precious son who is just the perfect exclamation point ending to our family story”
—Jess from @jess_hanako
“Compromise is an important part of marriage. But, let’s face it, there are some situations in marriage where there is no obvious compromise. For my marriage, we faced one of our largest disagreements over how many kids to have. After two little boys, my husband was 100% content and had zero intention of populating the earth any further through his own efforts. I was heartbroken and devastated, and underwent what I could only describe as a grieving process. I waited a few years for him to change his mind or budge and it never happened. The decision to have kids at all, when to have them, to pursue IVF, to stop having kids, to adopt…these are not areas where you can find compromise readily.
Early in our disagreement we found a psychologist who we both liked. They asked hard questions that gave us space to remove some of the emotion, and have an honest dialogue about our lives and future. It wasn’t easy, but pursuing counseling specific to this issue helped me to get through the challenges of not seeing that dream fulfilled. Now, if someone asks me if I’m having more kids, I just look at them like they are totally crazy. I made a decision though, to surrender to God’s will and to not force my way on to an unwilling husband. Looking back, I think it was best for our family to be complete with two kids. In the thick of it, I never would have thought I would say that but sometimes we forget that we don’t know how we will feel in two, five or ten years from now.”
—Merle from @merleblur
“Struggling with infertility for nearly 7 years has truly brought us closer than ever. Henry has always been incredibly understanding of everything I’ve had to to go through. As women who struggle with infertility, we always feel as if we’re failing because we are not able to conceive a child naturally. But I never once felt alone. Positive affirmation is one key thing that has helped us stay strong. Through all the struggles infertility has presented us with, we always remember to focus on each other first. Our family may not continue to grow, but our love and appreciation for one another will.”
—Kristina from @mrskristinacar20
on friendship outside of marriage
“Something that I learned recently was the importance of maintaining friendships for emotional balance. It’s unfair for you to expect your spouse to fulfill all of the emotional needs that you can find from a variety of friendships. I don’t think we can expect any human to be all of the things — the therapist, the shoulder-to-cry-on, the gossip, the mentor, the life of the party, or the blunt realist. Maintaining friendships outside of your husband is healthy and helpful for your marriage relationship.”
—Briana from @homesweetbri
on supporting your spouse
“My husband Anthony is an author/entrepreneur blogger and sets his own schedule working from home. As his support system I simply have to trust his process. He is an introverted internal processor and works best when he has room to make mistakes and figure things out on his own. After a long time and many conversations later, I’ve learned that I need to give him lots of space with his career. Anthony knows that I trust him and how he chooses to work. He knows he can always come to me and I will be here with encouraging words cheering him on in whatever project he’s working on next. I know he’s doing everything he can to be successful and to provide for our future family. I love that he loves his job, and that’s the most important thing to me.”
—Kimi from @kimikimimoore
on coping with Loss together
“After the death of our daughter, we both ran right back into life trying to avoid the pain of it all, by burying ourselves in the busy. It wasn’t until we surrendered to the healing process that we started to feel growth. Seasons change & MY grace is not sufficient. I still find myself wanting to retreat when the going gets tough, but God’s grace is sufficient & this is where we find our strength to keep moving forward, together.”
—Waynna from @allgracedup.blog
on making time for each other
“My husband is a pilot, which puts me in a place that is similar to being a military wife since he is gone for stretches of time. We are newly married, and just relocated from CA to AZ. This has made me be more intentional about making the most of the time we have together! When he comes home, our goal is to get in much needed quality time so we make sure our marriage stays strong and our love languages are fufilled.”
— Grace Ann from @heygraceann
*To the amazing women who I have featured here, I am so incredibly honored that you allow me to partner alongside you, and share in your story. It is a blessing to know each one of you and to have your friendship and trust, and it fills me completely to share your testimonies of how you are actively creating strong marriages rooted in faith, trust, and steadfast love. ❤
I am inspired and moved by each one of these responses, and I hope that they impact and encourage you too in your own marriages. My prayer is that you know you are not alone in your particular journey with your spouse! It warms my heart to bring this community of women here to the blog to encourage and uplift you during whatever season you’re facing in marriage.
Photography by: Bree & Stephen Photography