I’ve been there… to the pit of despair… several times… and back again. (Just like Bilbo.) Up until this point, my marriage has always returned to the pit after climbing out and living at the edge for a while. I hope this time will be different. But who am I to give marriage advice? My husband and I certainly do not have it all figured out, but we have struggled together long enough (about 20 years) to have some ideas. With that, I offer the following 10 marriage maintenance tips.

  1. Model godly marriages. Find marriages that have stood the test of time and model (that doesn’t mean copy) what they do. Go to church together. Pray with and for each other. Protect each other.
  2. Learn from broken marriages. Couples who have gone through divorce are often a great source of learning from others mistakes with regard to marriages. Listen to what they have to say.
  3. Spend regular and quality time together. Explain to your kids why them going to bed on time is important for mom & dad’s time together. Connect via email & text when apart. Play Scrabble together. Watch movies. Have coffee together regularly. Find ways to connect, daily whenever possible.
  4. Rely on each other’s strengths. One partner should not have to pull all the weight, but sometimes one does pull more weight than the other. Allow your spouse to be strong for you.
  5. Bring the best you every day. Yes, this changes from day to day. Yes, sometimes your best doesn’t feel like much, but still… Your best is all you ever have to give, and God does amazing feats with our meager best.
  6. Share the smallest details. The laughs the frustrations the stupidity. Share the details of life. No, this doesn’t mean bring all your junk home from work, but it does mean realizing that connection is often found in the details of life.
  7. Argue well. Disagreements and arguments will happen, so we might as well learn how to do them well. Sometimes, it’s even okay to argue in front of the kids. (For a terrific article on this point, please read Why I Argue in Front of My Kids      (Sometimes).
  8. Have fun together. Enjoy each other’s company. Tease one another and joke around. Let the kids see you flirting. Send “fun” text messages to one another. Find simple ways to have fun.
  9. Intimacy. Guys, this is a 24/7 commitment for you (women tend to be like crock pots). Remember this. Ladies, this is more of a physical need for men than for women (men tend to be like microwave ovens). Don’t forget that. And for both of you, remember that intimacy is not always just about the physical.
  10. Surprise one another. Bring home a special gift, like a latte or ice cream, that your spouse would enjoy. Men, clean the bathroom. Women, forget the pajamas. Surprises bring spice to a marriage.

Maintaining a healthy marriage involves deliberate effort. And, just maintaining isn’t really the goal, growth is. Always improve. Always grow stronger. Remember that “you’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” In addition to communicating, forgiving and sacrificing, the above 10 marriage maintenance tips can help move your marriage out of the pit and on to the mountaintop and even from one mountaintop to another.

Discussion: What is your top marriage maintenance tip?