Ngina Otiende is a writer and trainer who loves helping others take charge of their lives. She's passionate about intentional growth and relationships and wants to ignite the same passion in others. She's married to her hero and they live in MD, USA. You can pick up her free eBook when you subscribe to her Blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and find her on Facebook.
3. Cultivate intentional thoughts and actions.
The further you go down the road of marriage, the more you begin to realize that greatness in the relationship comes dressed in work clothes. And thus it needs a mind to match! You can't wait to feel like being nice to your spouse in order to be nice. A husband doesn't wait to feel like providing in order to get out and go make a living. He gets out of bed and goes to work everyday, regardless of feelings.
A great marriage requires a wiliness to plant the right kind of seeds in difficult seasons. It means understanding that marriage is a grace-fueled journey and our lives must to reflect that. It means making up your mind to love the choice we made (and going ahead to yanking out the rear view mirror)
It means understanding that God does not do marriage on our behalf - you can't chalk it up to “God’s will” or “it is what it is” mindset but must purposeful to pursue solutions and make a demand on His promise. it means goes the extra mile and does not wait for the other person to jump on board before it does it's part. It serves anyway.
4. Stay counter-cultural and counter-flesh
Strong marriages come from doing the uncomfortable, the counter-cultural and counter-flesh. You understand that you cannot have your cake and eat it, thus you cultivate certain confines and disciplines.
For example when everyone else is watching sensual and explicit entertainment and believes it's harmless since they are married anyway, you put a hedge over what you expose your eyes to. Because you understand the power of the mind. When people think it's silly to have boundaries with the opposite sex, you are adamant about your associations and relationships. When society wants you to prefer your children over your spouse, you understand that they come in third (and that's where they thrive), after God and your spouse.
You base your marriage on the Word of God, not what is popular or culturally acceptable, even what you grew up believing. You find what makes your marriage tick and then go all out and do it.
5. Know how to have fun
A friend once shared how one morning at their breakfast table, she snatched a slice of bread from her husband and ran upstairs. Her husband, in full play-mode took off after her in hot pursuit. Her helper and nanny who was more traditional stood by watching and would later express her worry over the her “disrespectful” behavior towards the “man of the house”.
If you want to move your marriage from average to great, you must understand that "all work and no play makes Jack & Jill a very dull couple"
Laughter and fun is no respecter of culture or lifestyle. If you want life in your marriage, you must invest life in it. Intentionally seek ways to be silly together, to laugh, to enjoy life. Where I come from, words of endearment, holding hands or hugging in public is often an acquired habit for many couples. So break the rules. Go all out for your marriage.
Also dream together. Share each other's worlds, encourage one another, challenge each other, keep each other focused. Reminisce together, talk about the future and possibilities, explore ideas and thoughts. Let your marriage be a safe haven when you can dream and laugh together.
6 Learns to be a peacemaker, not a peace keeper
A great marriage does not mean the absence of conflict. But at some point in marriage I thought it did. After all, all the newlyweds I knew looked blissful, like they never argued or had conflict a day in their life.
Of course that was poor judgment on my part because I wasn't living in their house and couldn't possibly know what went on behind closed doors. That's why I talk about what happens behind my doors so that I can help other couples just like me. I want couples to understand that the presence of conflict and other relationship issues does not signal the end of a relationship, just presents an opportunity for intentional growth.
To move on to a deeper level, you must learn to pursue peace. I say learn because many of don't know how to pursue real peace. We are either passive - withdraw and hope things will resolve themselves - or are too aggressive - we wreck havoc in our resolution efforts.
Real peace does not come from passivity or aggressiveness. It begins when we begin to learn to to die to fears, ego and opinions and learning to listen and empathize and extend grace. It means having the courage to seek trusted help when circumstances warrant it.
This is not a complete list obviously. Other things include having marriage mentors, understanding roles and responsibilities in marriage e.t.c But these points can be a good start. Feel free to add your own thoughts in Comments!
What are your thoughts people?