Ingredients for a Healthy Marriage

Todays guest post was written by my sweet mother-in-law, Lisa. I have been blessed with incredibly caring in-laws who love my husband and I very much. Lisa has always been very open with me about her own marriage and I appreciate all of the wonderful talks we've had about life and marriage over the past few years. I hope you all enjoy this post and the beautiful prayer that she shared as much as I did. Thanks again, Lisa!

I have found in my 32 years of being married, that marriage can be an incredibly wonderful experience as well as a hellish one, and that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage because it consists of two imperfect beings. I do believe that marriage is a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted, and that it is worth all the time, work, and effort it takes to build. There are many ingredients to a healthy and successful marriage.

The first one being Trust. We build trust by allowing ourselves to be accountable to one another as well as surrounding ourselves with those who will ask us the hard questions and keep us accountable. We can create and nurture emotional intimacy by being transparent with one another in a loving and accepting way. As we build trust, it breeds security and respect for each other, which allows us to know that our partner has the health of the marriage as the main priority in everything he or she does.

Forgiveness is essential to a healthy marriage. I have learned that forgiving someone that has wronged you, is not forgetting or even condoning the behavior, but showing grace and choosing reconciliation. It has taken my husband and me many years to bring our two very different ways of conflict resolution together to make them work. Rather than ignoring the situation with cold silence, we’ve learned to talk about the issue as soon as we were able. Sometimes it took awhile to cool down, gain perspective and think clearly, but we learned that resolving it as soon as possible was best for the health of the marriage.

Effective communication means verbalizing needs and listening carefully. We can not expect to go through our marriage without having to face conflict. God made us different, both with faults and strengths, however made to help each other grow spiritually. Learning effective communication skills will certainly help your marriage grow. We learned that “reflective listening” helped us hear what the other was trying to communicate. When one of us would relay a message, the other would repeat back what we heard. We were surprised to find out that many times we heard something that was not even said. This allowed us to clarify what the true issue was before jumping to wrong conclusions and responding prematurely.

One ingredient that is very important to me is Laughter. Humor keeps our marriage fresh and fun. Laughing together has the ability to form two people into kindred spirits, soul mates. Studies have proven that laughter is good for your health and can relieve stress and even pain by producing a natural tranquilizing effect on the body. Laughter can only take place when you spend time together. When you laugh together, the result is bonding and friendship. Laughter, and the resulting friendship, is comfortable, enjoyable and deeply satisfying. Laughter is about connecting. Finding a way to laugh about difficult issues helps you take yourself less seriously, and helps you put problems into focus.

Love and Romance are wonderful qualities to a healthy marriage. In the beginning, it seems to come more naturally than as time goes on, but it is crucial to put effort in keeping this aspect of your union alive. We have found that keeping a “date night” at least once a month is a good way to accomplish this. Once kids enter the picture, it becomes even more important to put the time and effort into keeping the love and romance alive. We have found that the best thing we can do for our kids is to love one another, have a healthy relationship and be a good example for them.

Ultimately, a good marriage is built on a foundation of love; but the bricks-and-mortar that rest on that foundation, such as communication, respect, and spending time together, take some effort. I would like to end with a prayer that I wrote down many years ago, and go back to many times: Lord, you truly are the giver of gifts and the author of marriage.

Lord, thank you for the gift you have given me in my husband. I know in the depths of my soul that you are trust worthy, faithful, all knowing, caring and loving and you knew what you were doing when you gave this gift to me. Help me receive this gift as you intended, help me cherish the differences and see how our gaps fit together instead of resenting them. Help me take on your character to enable me to participate in this union as I truly was meant to. Amen

myspace photoLisa Stedman is a wife of 32 years to Blake Stedman, and a mother to Bryan Stedman(age 26) and Tamara Stedman(age 23). She is a business owner of “Philo and Honey”, a company she founded to keep her family’s time honored tradition of making baklava alive. Lisa is also an artist, and especially enjoys painting watercolors. She also enjoys working out at the gym as well as hula hooping, entertaining, spending time with family and friends, and reading. She has felt very fulfilled in these many roles and feels very blessed.