What We Do to Keep Our Marriage Strong

0170-21JUNE(167).jpgWhat do you and your spouse do to keep your marriage strong?

This was the question posed by the Do Not Disturb blog in their post  Keeping Marriage Strong: We Do…

I couldn’t resist participating, so here is my list of of what we do to keep our marriage strong:

We do each other.

Often. Gladly. Passionately.  We like sex a lot and it’s a sweet, tender, sacred part of our relationship, so I couldn’t resist saying we do each other.

I mean come on, it was a like a slow easy one right over the plate to have to use the words “We do…”

Yes, our marriage is so much more than sex, but at the same time, how well our sexual intimacy is going is a fairly accurate gauge of how well our entire marriage is going.

We do grace.

I know this has shown up on a few of the blogs, but it’s true in our marriage as well.  Oh my goodness, if it weren’t for grace, our marriage would be stuck in an angry neutral place.  And we wouldn’t be having any sex.  How much fun would that be?!

Grace, grace and more grace.  The marriage vows should include something like… “Do you promise to extend more grace than you ever could believe possible… and then extend even more?”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our ability to do grace is because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  His example encourages us and equips us.

We do family time.

Awhile back we started doing a family movie night each Sunday. Keep in mind how hard it is to find a movie that holds the 14-year-old’s attention, yet isn’t over the head of the 8-year-old.  Yes, we  have many other family moments too, but our Sunday movie tradition has become such a sweet thread in the fabric of our family.

We know our marriage is stronger because we are so deeply in love with our kids.

We do messy house.

Our carpet is from the early 1980s.  Our furniture looks like an eclectic collection from the Goodwill.  Our kitchen floor has been in need of replacement since the Bush administration.  The first Bush.

No, our house would never show up on that hoarding show, but it will never make the inside spread of Good Housekeeping either.  Plus, we have a dog. Enough said.

Though our house has its fair share of clutter and cobwebs, we feel irresistibly comfortable here.  It is our haven.  Our place where we do life and love.  And we never fret over a spill or muddy paws.

We do public display of affection.

The other day, we were in the car as a family, and the heater was on.  I said I was “hot” and my husband said, “I know you are.” To which I said mischievously, “That’s right. I am hot. I’ll show you how hot later.”  A cry of disgust from the teenager in the backseat, “You are killing me. Yuuuuckkk!!!”


Our display of affection — public and private — endears us to each other in indescribable ways.  And it demonstrates authentically to our children that our marriage matters… that we are in love and enjoy showing it.

We do virtually no debt.

We are so close to having zero debt, it even amazes us at times. What does this have to do with marriage?  Well, my husband and I feel like marriage has enough stress of its own.  Why add financial stress?!

Plain and simple, we just don’t care about things we can’t really afford… because we don’t want the toll on our marriage or the bad example for our kids.

We do inside jokes.

Are you and your spouse able to joke about things that only the two of you really find funny? I think there’s something so sexy about that!

My husband and I laugh at the same things, and why we laugh is often because of a shared understanding that is exclusive to the two of us.

We do vulnerability.

I admit this one wasn’t easy for me.  Early in our marriage, I still operated in a bit of self-protection mode. After all, I’d been hurt bad in my first marriage, so it was no wonder that my mind tried to wrap itself around some kind of emotional survival clause.

But authentic love doesn’t work that way.

And I grew to realize that to have something real, you have to be willing to risk your whole heart.  Ironically, it is in that kind of heart risk that I found true safety.  We do vulnerability and transparency because we have humbly seen the profound positive difference it makes in our marriage.

So what about you?  If someone asked you what you do to keep your marriage strong, what would you say?

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

17 thoughts on “What We Do to Keep Our Marriage Strong

  1. jealous says:

    Wow great list! I am considered to being a “nice guy”. I do 90% of the work around the house and make sure that the kids homework and activities are covered. Love and respect my wife. In return I am emotionally abused by my wife. At this time I can only dream about having a list like yours. You are lucky!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love your great example of PDA, because your kids know you’re breaking the stereotype(s) of a loveless marriage that they see all around them. Keep breaking the mold!

  3. Amanda says:

    I could have wrote this list! 🙂 Except the no debt. Unfortunately, with a special needs child, we will never be out of debt. Our house is old, falling apart everywhere it seems, paint is chipping everywhere, trim is broken in a lot of places (thanks to our son), our couches are ripped open and the foam stuff is coming out in several places(again, thanks to our son), but medical bills keep us drowning so replacing those things seems impossible at the moment. I hate reading financial blogs, and Christian blogs, that talk about staying out of debt. It’s almost impossible when you have a child with autism. I rarely buy anything for myself, not even make-up, I shop thrift stores and garage sales, I cook pretty much everything we eat, we don’t use credit, except for gas and we use the rewards at the end of the year for Christmas….and we still struggle. I stay home because of our child’s needs. It’s just a fact that we will not be debt free. It’s a source of stress, but one we can’t overcome, so we make the best of it. We definitely fight a lot less over money these days. It’s just hard to read about people being out of debt and how much better they feel because of it, to be honest.

  4. JulieSibert says:

    @Amanda… thank you so much for taking the time to comment. My heart and prayers go out to you.

    As for the debt issue, I think your circumstances certainly are different from most… you obviously aren’t in debt because of carelessness, but rather because of profound love for your child and wanting him to have the resources he needs. If I were in your shoes, I would likely be in debt too!

    I have no doubt that God looks upon you with deep love and compassion for the ways you and your husband are so committed to your son.

    Our son has had some struggles too and was tested for Asperger’s, so when I say my heart goes out to you… it really does. I’m sure we don’t encounter the challenges you do with your son, but we know the feeling of having a child who has unique challenges.

    Blessings to you…

  5. Megan @DoNotDisturb says:

    Great list and thanks for joining the project. Yes, we really did walk right into the we do each other line. So glad that you have such a strong voice for Godly sexuality and marriages. Blessings!


  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Julie! My comment probably came out a lot more harsh than what I intended. 🙂 I should clarify, I don’t feel angry or jealous about the no debt thing….it’s more of a helpless, “I’m really failing at this debt free lifestyle” feeling than anything else. Sorry, I just rambled on about it, hard day here! We really do okay. We are very happy…we have people tell us all the time they love to watch us together, that they can tell we are so in love – and we are. My husband is an amazing man. I hear of too many autism daddies leaving their families, and not only is mine still here, he’s very involved. My son is very much a daddy’s boy. We have plenty of food at all times (I coupon and budget tightly), my kids have plenty of clothes and toys, we get to go to a few places, like the zoo, a year. We’re okay, and there are others who are not so fortunate so I try to count my blessings. Some days are harder than others, I’ll admit. But I try to give myself a good kick in the pants on those days so I can remember that we are pretty lucky. 🙂

  7. HMT says:

    God bless you Amanda, We have a special needs granddaughter, and we are trying to help my daughter and her husband and our granddaughter and grandsons. Debt, because of what you are doing for your son, is not due to your irresponsibility, but due to your love and commitment to your son and your marriage. Again, God bless you! And God bless your marriage!

  8. Nicci says:

    Hi, you share really advices. I only not really understand the part that you messie your house. Maybe it’s because my english is not so good, but I love it to renew my house and to have it all reduced. And also my husband. Always when its becoming to messy, then we both become unfriendly.

  9. Scott says:

    What a fabulous list, Julie. I love your #1 and #2. If only everyone could get those two down! We are big on the PDA too, and our kids definitely sigh and roll their eyes a lot.

    If I had to add one thing it would be the spiritual intimacy we share. It takes a different form every day and it’s not a religious thing. Some days it’s just texting an encouraging scipture. We pray together, but not every day. We talk about the things God is doing in our lives and in our family. We do ministry together and support each other’s ministries.

    Thanks for sharing your “secretes!”

  10. Alecia says:

    Julie- have you been inside my head? You write my list! I almost feel like I could just share this on our site and call it good 🙂

  11. Patrick says:

    My wife is a recovered alcoholic. Since she gave up alcohol we have not had sex (7 months now). Drinking removed inhibitions. I am desperate with no hope in sight. Insurance does not cover any counseling so I am stuck. Any advice?

  12. JulieSibert says:

    @Patrick… has she expressed other issues that would cause her to not want to have sex? Yes, alcohol can tend to remove inhibitions, but if she says she cannot (or will not) have sex anymore because she is not drinking, then I wonder if there are other issues she is struggling with. Does she have past sexual abuse in her history? Do you think she is struggling with staying sober and is not sharing with you this struggle?

    You mention that insurance does not cover counseling. Are you members of a church? If you are, please see if you can meet with a pastor or mature Christian who could give you wise counsel. Or if you are not members of a church, consider calling a larger church in your community and seeing if they can recommend a place where you can get free or reduced-price counseling.

    Also, you may want to write your wife a letter, expressing to her of course your thankfulness that she is sober, but also lovingly explain to her that you desire more intimacy with her… not only sexual, but also emotional, etc. Try to help her see that sex is more than sex… it’s not just about a physical experience, but also about bonding with her, the wife you love and are grateful for.

    I hope some of these ideas are helpful…

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  14. anon. says:

    So how does one keep a marriage strong with a partner who acts like an unrepentant narcissist? My wife can talk about her past and problems for the thousandth time, but if I talk about myself, she rarely does anymore than grunt. If I ask her how I can I make her happy, she responds that I need to double my salary. If I ask her to invest in our intimacy, then all of a sudden I’ve only married her for the sex. Letters I write are met with silence and she threatens me if I ever go to our religious leader for counsel. She’s one flesh with her mother, but not with me. I’m just the guy who has the obligation to support her in her dreams and make her rich.

  15. JulieSibert says:

    @anon … I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced with your spouse. If you have expressed to her the depth of pain you have experienced. It does sound like she is being extremely careless with her marriage vows and with your heart.

    What does she threaten regarding you going to a religious leader for counsel? Honestly, I would go anyway if I were you. It’s the Biblical thing to do… to seek wise Christian insight with matters that are as precious to God as His gift of marriage. Suggest to her that you would like the two of you to go together, but if she won’t… still go on your own. Not only will it give you the opportunity to hear from a brother in Christ who can pray with you and advise you, but it also will demonstrate to her that you are committed to doing whatever it takes to strengthen the marriage.

    It is discouraging and devastating to hear she has equates money to love. We all must give account to God for how we have lived (Hebrews 4:13) and I wonder how she would feel trying to explain to God how she treated her marriage.

    Again, I am so sorry for what you are going through.

  16. Scott says:

    I really like the no debt section. We noticed in the past that our marriage was on shakey grounds every time finances were strained. We’ve lowered our debt tremendously and now see the same financial path. This has really improved our relationship

  17. Ali says:

    Actually, this list contains some creative ideas. I liked the one regarding using jokes and yes i agree that there is something sexy about that.
    Thanks for your insight.

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