Last summer Dave and I took a flight to California for some business.  Upon landing we got in a wing-dinger of a fight.  It was over the dumbest thing (I wasn’t situated enough with all my “stuff” when there was a gap in the sea of people deplaning, and he was antsy to get off that thing), and then it got twisted and muddled and we were both stomping off that plane huffy as could be.

I looked back in my mind after that blew over and thought about how comical (or horrifying) it must have been for the innocent bystanders hearing the shrapnel of our argument we were so in the zone with at that moment.

I’d like to say that that fight was a one-time-deal but Dave and I can sometimes be fighters.  We are both strong willed and opinionated and we both believe we are right a lot 🙂

I bring this up because I want to write about marriage right here, right now, and I don’t want it to come across that we have this thing all figured out.  We don’t.  We are a work in progress.  That’s what marriage is all about in my opinion, which often makes it pretty fun, and can also make it gut-wrenching.  And I’m pretty dang grateful I’ve got this guy right here who’s in it with me, through thick and thin.

So fast forward to a couple months ago when Dave and I finally took a trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I say “finally” because we were a little late.
You see, we actually celebrated our 22nd anniversary in June.  But ever since we spent our 20th at a waterpark celebrating Grace’s 14th birthday with a whole slew of her friends (it was the only day we could fit it in that year), we committed to celebrate that 20th in style at some point in the future. 
Not only were we late, but we were re-routed (Dave had been working hard on a plan to surprise me with…he knows Eyres love the surprise deal, and I’m an Eyre through and through), but the hurricane thwarted his best-laid efforts (what are the chances??) and we found ourselves somewhere else instead, which was pretty amazing and we were so grateful.
The reason for all that introduction?  Well, we had a pretty great trip.  Over and over again we looked at each other and talked about how great it was not to have any distractions, and just to be together.

So it was fitting that one day this comment/question came in here on the blog:  

While you’re in Q&A mode, can I ask a question? I give so much effort to being a deliberate mother. I have found so many great resources (like your blog!!!) and I think I have picked up some helpful skills. However, I think my marriage has suffered at the expense of my motherhood. I think I use up all my patience during the day on my kids and I’m fresh out by the time my husband gets home. I need someone to give me “wife skills” as clearly as I can find resources with “mom skills”. Any concrete tips you can pass along? Especially for those of us with little kids. Thanks!

And I thought it was the best observation.

Something I have thought about over and over again, but haven’t really expressed.  

I think it is so interesting that you can go to the library (or the Internet) and find myriads of books about parenting.  There are blogs filled with child-rearing techniques, Pinterest boards spilling out with job chart ideas and home-schooling helps.  There are so many wonderful resources!  
Yet there is very little about “wife-hood” or “being a great spouse” out there.
Sure there are some things, and maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but it seems that most things I’ve come across are more focused on how to pick up pieces after a your marriage is in trouble rather than staying on the offense, building and “growing” a great marriage.
Why is that?  It made me wonder why I don’t write more on here about wife-hood.  Is it because marriage is too personal and so different from couple to couple that there aren’t as many mainstream ideas?  Is it because Dave and I are good at fighting and I’m certainly not a marriage expert?  Is it because I don’t want to air out the stuff that’s not-so-great?  I don’t know, but I would love to concentrate more on this along with parenting things here on the blog.  

Because really, Dave is my # 1 (I wrote about that back HERE).  I know it, but sometimes I sure don’t show it.  And I know often-times I forget to let him know it.  I let life get in the way, I figure my kids are more needy and concentrate on them, I figure he can handle being on the back burner a little better than the kids can.

But that is just plain wrong.  He needs to be my first priority.
He needs to know it, and my kids do too.
I remember very vividly the day I realized my Dad loved my Mom more than he loved me.  I wrote all about it in this post back HERE, but to sum it up, I don’t remember if it was something he said or something he did, but it hit me like a ton of bricks: to him, she came first.

At first I was shocked.

I had always thought I was his favorite (he had a way of making us all feel that way).  And I’ll be honest, part of me was pretty devastated.  But gradually that devastation led to the most wonderful security.  I knew my parents would always love each other.  And there’s something about that that means a whole lot to a kid.

So, how do we put our husbands first?

I’ve thought about this a bunch over the years (and wrote a list of concrete ways HERE), especially lately.  Mostly because I have three close friends who are in some deep depths of struggling in their marriages and it makes my heart ache.  And it seems like I hear of more troubled marriages all the time. 

And it makes me want to scream out to all those young couples out there…and older ones too…myself included…“put him first!”  Make it happen.  Don’t let the disconnection get to the point where you don’t think you can go back to fix things…they’re so broken the pieces are strewn out of grasp.  It can happen so gradually, so slowly, that you don’t even know it’s happening.  And then BAM!, you are in marriage counseling trying to figure out what went wrong, and you realize a lot went wrong, and you could have fixed some major parts of it if you had put that guy as your number one more often.

I know there are so many reasons that marriages break down.  I know both partners need to invest and it can be so difficult when one just doesn’t seem to care.  I know things can get muddled up in all kinds of ways.  But I also know that we have power to make a difference as well.  We have power to nurture more and reach out of our way to renew, rekindle, to give unconditional love.

Maybe that means sitting down and watching the World Series with him even when you have kids crawling all over you, noses to wipe, homework to sign, dishes to be done.

Maybe it means putting away your technology that is so mesmerizing and looking into his face, listening more fully to what happened during his day.

Maybe it means finding one thing you specifically appreciate about that guy and letting him know every night before you go to sleep.

It could be little things like slipping a little note into his drawer telling him how much you love him or sending a random text through the day.

And also forgiving and forgetting…not holding grudges and bringing up things that should have been erased and replaced with better things.

I was listening to an “On Being” podcast the other day about “mindfulness.” It was fascinating…at least the part I listened to (I need to finish it because I only just got started while cooking dinner before things got crazy).  But one of the things that hit me was a recommendation to go home to the person you live with and notice (be “mindful”) of five new {hopefully good} things about them.  Put them in the forefront of your mind and look for things that may have melded into the background after all those years of living together.  And even just that “mindfulness” alone will bring you to love and be endeared to a person more.

Anyway, this is a lot of rambling for a Thursday morning, but I’ve had these thoughts swirling around in my mind for a while and ready or not, I’m sending them out to cyberspace.

I’d like to start talking about this more on here because I have a lot of different things I’d love to bring up.  I hope readers out there do too.  I know there are many single women out there who read this blog as well as married ones.  No matter where we are in life, we’ve all learned and observed a thing or two about different marriages, and I’d love to hear the thoughts that come from all kinds of life experiences.

Bottom line is that good marriages don’t just happen.  They take attention.  They take being deliberate.  Sure, being a good marriage partner may come more naturally for some than for others, but I don’t believe it’s something that can be put on autopilot no matter how compatible the two halves are.  So what are we going to do about that?

I’d love to hear what others do, or what others have observed in other marriages, to put that spouse of theirs in that #1 spot (readers mentioned some great things in the comments of this post back HERE…I’m sure there are so many more!).

And I’d like to issue us all a challenge to make wife-hood more deliberate today.  (Is “wife-hood” even a thing?  If not, let’s make it one 🙂  Whether we make a constant effort or whether we have forgotten the importance of that all-important relationship, let’s go do something to show those spouses of ours they matter.  A lot. 

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  1. I love these ideas – I struggle with patience for my husband at the end of the day, especially days I've been teaching kiddos all day (Mondays and Wednesdays). Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Have you seen the movie Fireproof? This book takes things further and is about how to give unconditional love to your spouse with little exercises to help you do that. I recommend it if your marriage could do with some tuning up or just if you want help to give your spouse what they deserve from you. It's called The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick. I tried to post the link but it's not working, you can find the book in paper or electronic on Amazon. Love Jo x

    1. I have the book Fireproof sitting next to my bed, but haven’t read it yet. And I just ordered “the Love Dare.” Thank you for the recommendations!

  3. Have you seen the movie Fireproof? This book takes things further and is about how to give unconditional love to your spouse with little exercises to help you do that. I recommend it if your marriage could do with some tuning up or just if you want help to give your spouse what they deserve from you. It's called The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick. I tried to post the link but it's not working, you can find the book in paper or electronic on Amazon. Love Jo x

  4. We do this thing called "3 Things" that I heard somewhere. Each night we tell each other 3 things that we appreciated that the other spouse did that day. My husband is not naturally a talker so I've learned some great things! And it's nice to be able to tell him I appreciate him which is hard to do sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day. It's a great way to focus on the positive and a nice way to end your day.

  5. Such an apt post. I think as I got caught up with being a mother, I also forgot that our marriage should come first and in turn my husband and more recently I've been trying to turn that around. I feel like I always need to put our kids first, but our marriage suffers when that happens and once I started reminding myself that we wouldn't even have a family if it wasn't for us being a couple in the first place, things have been much better. We make more time for each other and we fight less and it's good for our kids to see that the world and our house doesn't revolve around them.

  6. Read Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage by Ramona Zabriskie. It is amazingly fabulous and totally changed how I think about and try to treat my husband.

  7. I am married with no children yet and just got into a fight with my husband last night and this morning over basically this. My husband's parents had a terrible relationship when he was growing up. My parents had a very strong marriage and have a great relationship to this day. So, a big concern of mine is making sure that my husband and lean more heavily towards my parent's type of relationship…I can see the effect of my husband's parents' poor relationship on him even today and do not want to repeat that. Very interested to hear more on this!

    1. Elizabeth, There's more than one way to have a strong and happy marriage. Although your parents have a successful marriage that doesn't mean yours needs to look like there's. I'd also warn against the theme of "my family does it well" and "your parents have a poor relationship."

    2. Elizabeth…bless your heart for being aware and nervous to have a relationship that mimics your parents love filled one. Have patience with him as he may have things from his past that have made him the way he is. When you are both in a good place have a conversation that is all about what you both want out of your marriage. Ask him to come up with ideas about how you two will defy the odds of todays statistics and create an unbreakable bond in your relationship. See if you can make a marriage commitment list of 5-10 things that aren't too overwhelming…but you will commit to do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Simple things like a 1minute kiss each day, 20minutes of phone free talk time each night, weekly dates whenever possible, alternating planning "special" nights out every so often, etc etc. If you approach this out of love and not on the attack about what isn't going right…he may buy into it more and you can both create a list of simple ways you will ensure your marriage is always strong. I do agree to tread lightly in the "us" vs "them" mentality…however, I admire your desire to be aware of these things and I think with patience…it will go a long way. I came from a broken home, with broken marriages (4 between my 2 parents). I didn't have a lot of love growing up and didn't know how to "fight" or communicate because of my upbringing. I was a "right" fighter early on. My husband's parents were like yours, 9kids and never separated. His gentle love and patience with me combined with my desire to defy the odds my parents had given me has completely changed who I am and who we are today…18yrs and counting. Good luck to you!

  8. Another thing I think is helpful to keep in mind, in all the togetherness/sharing/and team work of marriage, is there's is also space for spouses to be individuals. In your example of the plane; what if Dave left quickly because he was anxious to stretch is legs and you de-deplaned once you had all your stuff together. You would have been separated for just a few minutes and could have easily met up in the waiting area. I know it's just one small example, but I think it's a telling one and an apt metaphor.

  9. Oh my…this might be my absolute favorite topic! I hope you continue to make a series of it…I have SO MANY thoughts on it. I grew up with divorced parents, my dad married 3x. What I observed through that is that couples are very much emotionally separated long before the actual physical divorce comes in. I feel like so many people in life, just go through the "motions" and do not open their eyes to realize they have become roommates. My husband has always been my number one, if anything, our marriage disagreements have been due to my stress about ever becoming emotionally disconnected…for fear of losing what we have. We take a weekend for just the two of us AT LEAST annually…sometimes it's just to a hotel in town for a night or two, it has also been at home with kids farmed out, and we have had plenty of "couple" trips over the years as well. These have been the single best way to keep our love strong. We always come home better spouses, friends and parents after a weekend just reconnecting as a couple. About 3 yrs ago we took a trip for our anniversary. I was feeling particularly disconnected in our relationship at the time due to busy/life/kids/distracted. I took with me some questionaiires about love languages and emotional needs. We took several days and disconnected from our phones and focused solely on each other. We were actually staying in Sedona which for us was a sentimental place from when we had dated. We reminisced a lot that weekend about how we fell in love and what we used to feel. We talked about what we had done right and where we could improve. At the end of the weekend just before we drove home, my husband looked at me over our lunch with tears coming from his eyes…it was the first time in a long time I felt he "saw" me like he used to "see" me. That "boy" who was head over heels for me 15 years earlier…had emerged to the surface that weekend. That sparked what become a major shift in our relationship…we were like newlyweds, except we were 15yrs in. Everyday we couldn't wait to see eachother or catch up from our day. We started a journal for "us". In it we have written meaningful moments of love we have shared or we just print out and paste in text messages and emails of some of our love notes for each other. It is SUCH a great thing to read if we ever fight now =) Now at 18years strong, I will say we haven't kept up that newlywed intensity, or even kept up the journal always. But the effect of that time is still going strong. Our ability to communicate is so much stronger and we recover from disagreements MUCH easier than we did for so many years. We respect each other more and have more patience through each others frustrating traits.

    I love marriage and I believe wholeheartedly that people that want a STRONG marriage should take considerable time to invest in their relationship. Weekly dates and annual getaways. One other way we did that years ago was through counseling. It was actually counseling for me…but he came and supported me through some hard things and in turn that improved our ability to communicate and work together. Counseling has such a stigma…but it's the best way to invest in your mental/marriage health. I will for sure be buying my kids counseling sessions as wedding gifts…everyone needs help navigating when combining two lives and learning to let go of selfishness to become a good spouse. I wish the stigma could subside and people would go to counseling in search of being a BETTER couple…not just because they are on the brink of divorce.

    Sorry…I could go on and on…I even started a pinterest board called "deliberate love".

    I'm excited for your series. I truly hope it helps to touch the lives of your readers in ways that your mothering has.

    1. Oh goodness Jen, I cannot believe I never replied to this beautiful comment. I remember loving it so much! I so agree with you that time is worth it’s weight in gold. And in this world of so much distraction, sometimes time is hard to come by. I love that you have made a point to make time for each other. I love the journal idea. I love your thoughts about counseling (I so agree!). We need to be on the offensive rather than the defensive. Thanks again for sharing these thoughts!

  10. I hope you do post more about this! We've been married 14 years and I still feel like I'm not sure how to love him best. Figuring out our love languages was key for us. His is acts of service and it just about floors me that I can take his car out on Sunday evening, vacuum it out and fill up the gas tank, and he's still thanking me for it on Thursday! I just don't get it. But he feels the same way about writing a quick "I love you" on a post it note. Marriage is a true mystery, isn't it? Great and wonderful and scary and hard and worth every bit of effort to preserve. Thank you for the reminder to be on the "offense"!!

    1. Thank you for these thoughts. I got distracted with life, and I’m grateful for these reminders to do a “series” on these types of posts!

  11. One thing we have vowed to do, and we do it really well for the most part, is change our thinking from, I HAVE to do this for you, to What CAN I do for you today, that makes your life a little easier? It takes away the comparison of how badly my day was, and focuses on taking away some of the bad from him. Sometimes it's as simple as, just give me a hug and other times it's please wash my work clothes or take the dog to the park or whatever helps him, and he does the same for me. It is very deliberate and if there are days that are really difficult, I flat out ask him, "what can I do to make your day a bit better today?" I want him to know that I am his partner and I am working with him. There are times when I am just dog tired and I don't want to do for him, or he is tired and doesn't want to do for me. On those days, I fight through it and normally he can tell that maybe he needs to be more involved and let me rest, but because we live our lives this way, we don't keep score.

    I think above all else, do not let your mind stay in the negative with thoughts about your spouse. If you think to yourself, he never helps with the kids, or he's always too tired to do dishes, or he always leaves me with the housework, you are setting yourself up to believe that. Pretty soon, you start resenting your spouse and your thoughts are always about the negative and you find yourself further and further away from the reasons you married him to begin with.

    1. Oh I love that mind shift you are talking about, and just trying to be a little better each day. All that positive energy can do so much to help cherish rather than resent our spouses.

  12. I love this! My husband and I have 4 kids under 5 and life is full of meeting little-people's needs. By the time we finally get them all in bed, we both need to unwind. We found ourselves turning on Netflix each night and just vegging next to each other. We decided two weeks ago that we needed to interact with each other. So now, we've made a rule to only watch tv on the weekends. We now spend our nights reading to each other while the other person rubs our feet or backs, playing games, and talking. It has been incredible for us. We didn't realize that we were feeling a little distant until we started interacting more and it has healed me in ways I didn't know I needed.

    1. What a GREAT thing to shift, I LOVE that you changed that television time into active connection time. That is so powerful. I’d love to hear an update all these years later!

  13. I saw a celebrity share this analogy- you wouldn't try to replace your car's transmission if you aren't a mechanic, so why treat your car any worse than your relationship? He was making a point for going to a marriage counselor who is an expert in repairing relationships. I believe that therapy is useful for any relationship! Even if you don't go long term, it can be incredibly useful and helpful for a tune-up every now and then. Our family and our marriage has definitely benefitted from professional counseling. 🙂

  14. Thanks so much for this! I'm a newlywed (almost 9 months!) and I'm surprised at how little information there is for the people in the "My marriage is wonderful but imperfect" crowd. SO MANY books, articles, blog posts, podcasts, and on how to save your marriage if it's falling apart or what you could have done to save your marriage but it fell apart. It's so refreshing to read tips on keeping your marriage great! I've been in a black hole of reading all your marriage posts and comments, so thanks for sharing!

    1. I love it! Thanks for your comment, and now that it’s been seven years (yikes) I hope you are still going strong! Sending love your way!

  15. Thank you for this- something I and I think every couple really needs. It was interesting- I’d just listened to Craig Zwick’s conference talk and was thinking about trying to see my husband more through the Savior’s eyes, then opened this and saw your post. Not a coincidence.

    It’s so easy to get disconnected. I love “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson- recognizing the cycle (and blaming it instead of each other) has been helpful. Also of course Bonds that Make us Free is great. Still- such a long long way to go. Definitely need some help & support! Thanks again for listening to little nudges.

  16. i love this and appreciate all the ideas in the post and in the comments. thanks for starting the discussion, shawn!

    for the record though, i always thought you were dad’s favourite (after mom) too 😉

    love you!

  17. Oh boy, I also can relate to the "I love you but, man, this is hard!" camp. We're still steaming from an argument a week+ ago and while I know we'll reconcile and things will go on, it's hard to imagine in when you're in the weeds. In fact, our biggest struggle comes not from the "content" of the particular conflict, but how we actually orient towards conflict. I love debating, talking through and grappling with things and he perceives conflict as a sign that there's a problem. Neither of us is right or wrong in this, but it makes it super frustrating to even try and talk about our relationship in real terms.

    1. Oh Susan, this sounds difficult, and I hope you have been able to come up with a common ground. Every relationship is just so different in dealing with conflict. The thing is, conflict is so powerful to help build! I hope it is working! Sending you lots of love!

  18. Oh, how I needed this. Thank you for creating a community where we can talk about this. I really love Ramona Zabriskie's videos from the Mom Conference and plan to read her book Wife for Life soon. I love the resources and positive energy she is putting out about marriage. I appreciate all the comments. I know I could be doing better on this and this is great support.

  19. I love this. Such a great topic, I agree with you completely that wife and husband should be each other's number one, even with amazing children in the mix. I think it's about two people not only accepting that it's hard work to have a good marriage, but also embracing it and ultimately being proud of it! I work very hard at my marriage, but my husband does too, and that's such a wonderful feeling.
    You have many great topics, and I love your approach to many things, so I'd love to see more about wifehood in the future, and will help in any way I can!

  20. Hi Shawni, thank you for letting singles like myself a chance to have a say as well.

    My thoughts/ideas aren't so much on the relationship, but how to keep the marriage alive etc.

    Never take your husband for granted. There are many single women like myself who would give anything for someone special in their life. Coming home to an empty house every day is very hard.

    Display recent & older pix of of yourself as a couple around the house, not just a wedding picture.

    On your desk at work, on in the house, display a picture of your husband. So many people only display a picture of their children.

    Write special notes to each other & always keep them. These things are precious.

    Do special things for him at Christmas time etc. I sometimes find that some wives only buy pressies for their children & don't bother with their husband. He's important too.

    Have a 3 way prayer. (As suggested by Shawni's Mum & Dad) They start off by holding hands & one starts the prayer, then the other squeezes his/her hand & says what they want. The hand squeezing & prayers can go on until each has said what they want to. This makes it a 3 way prayer – husband, wife & Heavenly Father. (My best friend has tried this & it really does work)

    Express how you feel rather than attacking the other person. Like, "I feel annoyed when you keep leaving the loo seat up".

    Every month on the date that you married, say Dec 1st, have a mini wedding anniversary. A special meal, card/note etc.

    Finally, again, never take that special person for granted. Be grateful that you have someone to go on holiday with, someone to share Christmas & birthdays with etc. The list could go on & on.

    When I do find someone special – I'm trying to be positive – I will treasure my husband & will thank Heavenly Father for him every single day.

  21. There are 13 marriages between my husband and my's 4 biological parents. We grew up mostly watching the not-to-dos. I studied family studies in college as part of my education. And I think one of the most valuable lessons I learned is in a relationship where there is mutual love and respect ypu should "assume the benign" meaning you assume your spouse isn't trying to negatively interact with you. They aren't tryingto tear you down, or be hateful. They don't want you to have a bad day, they really didn't mean to hurt your feelings.
    When we assume the benign we give pur spouse the benefit of the doubt. And it makes it easier to remember you're in the same side.

  22. Another Ramona fan over here…I saw her Mom Conference interview and man was it full of golden info! You hear "put your spouse first", but that looks differently at different stages and sometimes you wonder HOW to do that when you have little kids and babies and not a lot of opportunities to escape for traditional date nights.

  23. Can't wait to learn more great ideas and put them to work! Whenever things get a little rocky or distant I try to remember this quote I saw once: "Choose your love and love your choice."
    Love is a verb…it takes work! Thanks!

  24. Love this! My husband and run – where we focus on all of that growth, intentionality, and effort to put INTO marriage! We need more voices like yours encouraging and supporting and strengthening marriage and family! Thanks for all you do!

  25. I think this is way more common in LDS marriages than people realize – and it may be intensified by several things.

    One, the LDS couples get married so young – the grown-ups they mature into in their late twenties, early thirties are way different from the 19 or 20 year olds that got married.

    Also, they begin having babies immediately, some 9 months to the day of their marriage. And they have one every year or so, until they have a house full, and they are over worked and overwhelmed. Happy, yes. But never had a chance to be together as a couple, alone.

    Very hard to be a "deliberate" wife (or husband) on little or no sleep and with babies crawling all over you all the time.

  26. Tabby, thanks for your comment. I always like to hear thoughts from those not of the LDS faith. I am LDS, I got married at 24, and did not have my first child until almost 28. I worked full time and paid for our first house while my husband was getting his degree. We spent plenty of time getting to know each other before we had children. We have now been married for 23 years. My cousin got married at 40 and had 2 children. It is still hard. We are all in this together….and I want to build and lift other women…I feel that marriage is difficult in any circumstance in today's world. Regardless of religious affiliation. Staying committed to ONE person for your whole life takes some serious dedication and some serious patience and LOVE. When one makes a commitment, whether you are young, or older, it is challenging to follow through. There are many LDS women who may not think that decision through well enough….but are willing to stick it out (AND MAKE IT WORK) because they made a commitment. I also know MANY non LDS women who have made the same choice. This world needs more women encouraging each other through the challenges we face. More compassion and less judgement. In my opinion, women are the single. greatest. creation. ever. We are each so unique, beautiful, kind, compassionate and the list goes on….and we have a LOT to offer…whether its to our children, or our spouses, or each other. Thanks Shawni for giving us a place to go that is positive. Shannon

  27. Shannon, you did it the correct way. I think it is naive to think anything other than you are the exception rather than the rule in LDS society.

    1. "Correct way?" Kinda judgy. In any case, You're thinking of Utah culture, not LDS. We get married younger than non-religious people, I'll give you that. However, I hear of non LDS people living in Utah getting married at 20, all the time. Further, religious people in the bible belt tend to marry younger, too. Probabl because we don't believe in sex or co-habitation before marriage. So we kind of have to make a decision in our relationships to "piss or get off the pot", rather than co-habitate for a few years. Pardon the expression…haha!

  28. I'm sure you're correct. My point was that these things contribute to strained marriages and sometimes not having the time or energy to be "deliberate" in your relationship with your spouse.

  29. I've read "Strangling Your Husband Is Not an Option" by Merrilee Boyack (author of the Parenting Breakthrough). Funny read with some ideas just on this subject. (She also expresses her frustration that there aren't many how to be a good wife/husband books.)

  30. The Adventures of Being a Wife by Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale has some wonderful ideas for putting wifehood first. Shawni, I love the light you shine in this crazy world! Thank you for all you do!

  31. Bold new mom podcast episodes 117 and 82 had some greats thoughts on marriage. Also Brooke Castillo had a great podcast on marriage that I loved!

  32. We have a journal that I made through a website. Each page is the same and has 2 columns, a husband and a wife column. Both columns have the same question: "How can I make you feel loved, respected, encouraged, and/or pursued this week?". At the bottom there is a space for prayer requests. We write in it each week. Sometimes it's a word or two, sometimes much longer. It's been life changing for us.

  33. Shawni, thank you for this post and your blog! I've been inspired by you for years!

    I just wanted to share that I too have been deeply inspired and changed by Ramona Zabriskie's, "Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage". Her approach is all about what we as women can do to influence their marriages rather than expect that it's all about how our husbands can change. She gets into the WHY of marriage, the HOW-TO's and the WHAT's of marriage in her book and has even created an online course and community for those who long for support and direction. I've never seen anything like it. The vision, the practical tacticals, and even one-on-one mentoring has changed my life forever. I just wanted to say thank you for creating a space for this discussion. I think it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else has it altogether and it's hard to be vulnerable sometimes about what isn't working or why it's not working. I've loved how Ramona has helped me to see a new perspective and move forward in really productive ways. I look forward to any other discussion that comes from this post and future posts.

    Again, much love for all you do! I'm a better person for everything you've shared over the years. Thank you!

  34. Something my husband and I try to do often is to ask each other “how can I meet your needs?” My husband is better at remembering to do this. Usually I get snappy when I am stressed, and he will wrap his arms around me and ask me how he can meet my needs. I usually list off what I need help with or that I just need some alone time to work or whatever, and with a kiss he is on his way to fulfill my needs. I try to do the same for him although I admit he is much more consistent at it than I am.
    We also make time for a date night regularly. At different times in our marriage we have been strapped financially, but even trading babysitting with another couple and just going for a bike ride or a walk around the park is enough for us to connect.
    If we start to get snappy, we give each other space for awhile, and then come back and ask to “rewind” and try that conversation over again. This “rewind” principle is so amazing. We use it with our kids as well. “That didn’t come out like I intended. Can we rewind?”

    I love the book 5 love languages and found it very helpful. The way I feel loved is different from the way My husband feels love, and that’s important to try to “speak” each other’s love language.

  35. There are starting to be more and more resources on marriage that I have found that have helped us. One is the Navigator's Council habit that I found on this site:

    I also love the insight from this man:

    And this one:

    All of these sites take a religious approach to marriage where God is the center but there is also a lot of great tips that are just about all kinds of ways to strengthen your marriage religious or not. On our wedding day someone told us "Find out what your spouse loves. Learn to love it too because they love it and you love them." This has made a world of difference for me and helped me to be less selfish in my marriage. I also keep a gratitude journal about all the ways my husband shows me love each day. I do this because sometimes his way of showing me love is not my way of receiving love so I miss his efforts and get upset- when really he was trying his best to do things he thought I would love. I think that is the key to happy marriages -being observant and noticing the good in your spouse for what it is not for what you expect it to be.

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