how to have a great marriage

How to Have a Great Marriage Instead of Watching It on TV

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For many years at Christmastime, my wife sat glued to the Hallmark Channel. Like most men, I had no idea what the big attraction was and I never participated. However, I like my wife, and I like being around her, so eventually, I caved and watched Hallmark movies with her to see for myself what the hoopla was about. For starters, yes, the movies all do have basically the same exact plot, and yes, they all heavily lean toward the dream marriage scenario.

But as I started to watch, I picked up on why they are such a hit. The movies portray the relationships real people wish they had. Enthusiasm. Adventure. Honesty. Devotion. Happy endings. People are watching what they want to have, but are they actively trying to live their real happily ever after? I’ve been reminded by those movies of the guy I used to be and of what my marriage needs. Not because it’s in danger, but because life sure is better when you’re living out how to have a great marriage instead of watching it on TV. Here’s how.

Share common dreams.

Do you share the same dreams for the future or are you and your wife on completely different pages? Both of you need to be committed and in agreement as to where you’re steering the ship. Plan a time to openly and seriously discuss your dreams, write them down and find common ground surrounding all aspects of life, including financial, parental, professional, relational—everything. Create a map of shared dreams.

Embrace the phase you’re in.

We can’t do anything about the past and we can only plan for the future. But we live in the present. For us, today means facing an empty nest soon and the transition it will bring. For you? Maybe you’re in the dirty diapers phase, the never getting any sleep phase, or the sassy 14-year-old phase. You can’t find happiness in marriage when you’re constantly waiting for a different phase. Spoiler: It never gets easier. But it can be more joyous, simply by embracing the moment you’re in and trying your best to knock it out of the park.

Slow down.

I am of the opinion that one of the greatest marriage killers is busyness. It comes on sometimes before we even realize it. We keep adding extra commitments to our schedules and eventually, activity takes up all our time. We go to bed at night never having had a moment just to enjoy one another. Slow down. Scrutinize each extra activity (both for kids and adults) before you commit. Whittle down your schedule to something resembling sanity. Be intentional about making time just to be together.

Cherish each other.

Great leaders do not sit idle. They serve.

Regarding marriage, the book of Proverbs says, “May you ever be intoxicated with her love.” How do we do that? It takes effort. First, choose her. For instance, it’s Friday night and your wife wants to see a movie with you, but your best friend wants you to come over and watch the game. Cherishing her means choosing her. Second, listen to her. It’s not always easy. Women need to talk and she wants to be heard by you more than anyone else. Don’t fix. Just listen. And third, share her burdens. When you help with the management of your family, maintenance of your home, and the mundane chores your household requires, you are honoring and cherishing your wife. Great leaders do not sit idle. They serve.

Sound Off: What are some ways you’re being active in building the marriage you want?

Huddle up with your family and create a schedule that enables you to slow down.