1. Marriage is Hard Work and no one said you would live happily ever after. Nobody ever guaranteed your happiness. You can't just toss in the towel because you're "not happy". Marriage takes work!
~Kristen...married 11.5 years
Trying to find fulfillment and happiness in another person can leave you feeling empty. God is the only one that can truly make you complete. You choose to love someone everyday. Maybe some days you don't feel head over heels "in love" with that person, but you love them none the less. It takes work. It takes changing your frame of mind and your attitude.
2. Talk about your expectations before you get married. Living with a guy can be frustrating and hard work. It's really helpful to talk about your expectations before you get married. Talk about things that you think are just common sense to make sure you are on the same page.
~Janelle....married almost 7 years
We've had to kind of learn things along the way. Darren grew up with a mom who cleaned up after him... laundry, food, dishes, etc etc. That's the way she was raised so I don't fault that at all. In my mind, it should not be up to me to take care of everything in the house. I think it should be a partnership. If you see dirty dishes in the sink...wash them or put them in the dish washer. If laundry needs to be done...start a load. It's NOT that difficult. We're still working on all of that but it's a lot better now than it was when we first got married :)
3. Submission. It's not an evil word, I promise. I had two friends who both said that this is the biggest thing that they have learned. Sometimes women think that submitting to their husbands means they are inferior or a "doormat". But really, it comes down to trust...trusting your husband and trusting God. God has put the man to be the head of the household for a reason. If you are submissive to that role and trust him to make decisions for your family, God can do some great things in your marriage. Overcome your fears and put aside the power struggle. A good book that Theryne recommended is "The Strong-Willed Wife" by Debbie Cherry.
~Shelley...married almost 7 years. and Theryne....married 4 years.
I think this is a sensitive subject for some women. We live in a society where we are taught to be independent and feminism is everywhere. But we are called to submit to our husbands just as they are called to love us as Christ loves the church. When the two are combined, God can work through your marriage to bring glory to Him. Marriage is a partnership. Being submissive doesn't mean that you don't get to give your opinion on things before decisions are made. I probably need to check that book out. I can be quite stubborn. :)
4. Every Marriage is Different. You may or may not have the same struggles that others have. Pray for your husband, encourage him, and give him the same love and respect that you want in return. Open communication is key!
~Deana...married 6 years
This is a big deal. Give him the same love and respect that you want in return. It's the same thing as treat others as you want to be treated. I have to remind myself of this and even if that love and respect is not reflected back to you right away, it will be eventually. Sometimes that may come in the form of an apology and flowers...but none the less...it's reflected. :)
5. Be Intentional. This one is my own. As I was typing the others, I thought of a couple more. There is a lot of power in just being intentional. Leave a note of encouragement for your spouse. Leave it in their car, their bag they carry to work, their lunchbox, their pants pocket, note pad on the refrigerator, post it note on the bathroom mirror ....wherever. It doesn't have to say much. Just be honest. Tell them you appreciate their hard work. Tell them you are proud of them. Thank them for loving you just as you are. Tell them you are praying for them and you hope they have a wonderful day. Just do it! And when you get one back...you'll see why I say it's powerful.
6. Counseling. No...seriously. If you are having problems personally or in your marriage, seek counseling. Preferably Christian counseling. I have a strong view on counseling since I've been through several months of it myself. I didn't go for my marriage...I went for things I was dealing with personally that was in turn slowly beginning to affect my marriage. It's so refreshing to be able to sit down and talk to someone who doesn't know you or your background or anything about anyone else in your life. Someone who is not going to judge you or put you down for feeling the way you do. I think everyone would benefit from counseling. You have to start by putting your pride aside.
**And just a small disclaimer. Please remember that this is advice (and opinions) coming from myself and other women. If you are in a marriage where there is physical or emotional harm being done, please seek professional help as soon as possible.**