How to Be Happily Married in a World of Unhappy Marriages

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My husband and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary last week. A decade-and-a-half seems like a drop in a bucket when I think about my grandparents, who were married for sixty years before my grandpa passed away, or my parents, who’ve been married for forty years.

But I don’t want to minimize the weight of God’s grace in my life as evidenced in my marriage. I don’t want to make light of more than five thousand days that my husband and I have survived, thrived, fallen, and risen again.

As I reflect on my marriage, I’m delighted and grateful that I’m not just married. I’m happily married.

And while about half of marriages don’t end in divorce, I’m pretty sure that a good many of those still-married people wouldn’t consider themselves happy in their marriages.

How has it been different for me and my husband? How have we been happy during these years? I could probably list dozens of lessons we’ve learned together by God’s grace, but here are the top ten that come to mind. I pray that they’re a blessing to your marriage.
About half of marriages survive, but how many of those are happy? Insightful post for Christians shares how to be happily married.

How to Be Happily Married

1.)Choose to forgive and keep on forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice, and remembering how lavishly I’ve been granted grace and forgiveness by God moves me toward granting lavish grace and forgiveness to my husband (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness isn’t forgetting; but it is choosing to not remember wrongdoing or hold it against the offender.

2.)Adjust my expectations. He won’t be perfect. And neither will I. He won’t be young forever. I won’t either. He won’t always do the right thing or say the right things in the right way. And I sure won’t either. I don’t compare him to the latest Hollywood or Harlequin representation of masculinity. And I don’t compare him to my pastor or my dad or my friend’s husband or even my own ideals of what a Christian husband should be. I do my best to look to God and His Word as the standard for my marriage.

3.)Be each other’s biggest cheerleader. I’ve supported my husband through cancer, unemployment, and re-employment. He’s my biggest cheerleader in church ministry, in motherhood, and in writing. I can’t speak for his perspective, but when he encourages me in those endeavors that are important to me, it warms my heart toward him.About half of marriages survive, but how many of those are happy? Insightful post for Christians shares how to be happily married.

4.)Yield to each other. If my husband feels more strongly than I do about a topic we’re discussing, I let him make the decision. If I feel more strongly, he yields to me. It’s not always an easy choice to make, but I’ve learned that I’d rather be happy than be right every single time.

5.)Give each other the benefit of the doubt. When he says something that could be taken negatively, do I choose to assume the best and overlook an offense? It helps to remind myself often that we’re all just people, and to remember that my husband has my best interests at heart.

6.)Put ourselves in each others’ shoes. Empathy is so important in marriage. Just because something isn’t important to me doesn’t mean it’s not important to him. And just because I’m worn out and frazzled by dinnertime doesn’t mean he doesn’t have needs that are just as valid. When I’m feeling frustrated or grumpy towards my husband, it’s often because I’m simply focusing on my own point of view, and not seeing things from his perspective.

7.)Believe I’m the lucky one. From my experience, each half of a happy couple feels like they got the better end of the deal. I don’t let myself believe any lie that I deserve a better husband; instead, I regularly affirm to him that his presence in my life is a gift from God that I don’t deserve.

8.)Purpose to stay on the same team. There are many issues that can divide husband and wife. Schedules. Parenting. Jobs. Money. Ministry. Friendships. Extended family. But at the end of the day, the covenant I made before God with my husband trumps every single one. Deciding to stay on his team is always the best choice.About half of marriages survive, but how many of those are happy? Insightful post for Christians shares how to be happily married.

9.)Guard my heart. There are countless enemies in our culture and even in my own heart that undermine marriage. I strive to be sensitive to those things that seek to turn my heart against my husband, and eliminate them from my life.

10.)Seek holiness, and happiness will come. If I had to state just one secret to being happily married, this would be it. Don’t believe the lie that the purpose of marriage is to make you happy. According to the Bible, the purpose of marriage is to portray the stunningly beautiful relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-23), and to establish a home which produces godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). Both of these have holiness at their core, and happiness as a byproduct. We do well not to confuse the two.

Whether your marriage is struggling or stable, it can always be strengthened. Learn how to honor the Lord in your role as a wife through this study. (P.S. Use code JC10 for a 10% discount.)

Becoming a Better Wife

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32 Replies to “How to Be Happily Married in a World of Unhappy Marriages”

  1. Lauren English

    I love this! I love reading tips from women who love and enjoy marriage way down the road since my hubby and I have only been married two years. I especially love #5. I’m seeing how beneficial it is for our marriage when I always assume my husband’s intentions and heart are good (even when they might not be). It helps prevent unnecessary conflict and reminds me that even when we hurt each other in little ways, we ultimately still love each other a whole lot!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Welcome, Lauren! I agree completely with your points, and I congratulate you and your husband on two happy years of marriage. 🙂 Thank you for sharing from your experience, and for taking the time to say “hello”!

  2. Ginger Harrington

    You’ve nailed down some really important and practical tips! Giving the benefit of the doubt and staying on the same team are so important. I couldn’t pick a favorite–they are all important.

  3. Betsy de Cruz

    Jennifer, I so appreciate your wisdom here. My husband and I have been happily married for 19 years. I love your #1-#3 tips, especially. We married at 31 and 41–he’s older–and as we’re just BEGINNING to age ;-), I find it’s so important to adjust expectations.

    One tip I would have would be to keep laughing and enjoying life together, look for opportunities to have fun, do things you enjoy together.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      That’s a great point, Betsy – the need for adjusting expectations all along the way. I tend to think of the importance of this in the early years, but you’re absolutely right – we change over the years, our roles change, our pursuits change…it only makes sense that we need to keep readjusting as time goes by.

      And I absolutely agree with having fun together and just enjoying each other. There are few things more important in a marriage! Thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  4. Tania Vaughan

    This is a great post – we’ve just celebrated 10 years and my biggest learning curve was embracing biblical submission. I fought thinking I was fighting my husband and realising I was fighting God – your last point I agree is the most important – get right with God fill your heart with him because life comes from the overflow of the heart. Still a few of your tips I’ll take with me and work on 🙂

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hi, Tania, and welcome! Thank you for stopping by and for letting me know how this post encouraged you. Biblical submission is often misunderstood because there have been many who have abused Paul’s teaching on submission. But it’s certainly a critical part of understanding our God-given roles in marriage.

  5. Dawn H

    I love this list! It is full of wisdom. You have done a great job here. I have some things I need to work on and this list is a great reminder! Thank you for keeping it fairly short and simple because it just seems like it’s more doable. Your list is very encouraging to me! Thanks much!

  6. Tracey

    LOVE this site?? I,like everyone else,found your site on Pinterest. I am blessed to have an amazing, hardworking,
    faith filled husband who I thank god for every single day. I have been a little stressed lately.. It’s good stress,but it’s more than I’m used to. I recently got a job an hour away,which was a huge promotion. We decided to buy a house closer and will be moving in about 3 weeks. But… We haven’t yet sold the house we are currently living in? the thought of 2 mortgage payments makes me want to vomit,lol. I have been super worried until I started to just give it to God .. His plan is always on point and he had it all under control. I read something that said to worry is to believe God won’t get it right. And that was when I was like you know what..that’s so true, and decided to let it go. Just trust in his plan and try to enjoy the ride. Thank you so much for your beautiful words, have a blessed day

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hi, Tracey, and welcome! I’m so glad Pinterest introduced us. 🙂 I just took some time to pray for the circumstances in your life – particularly that God would use this time to teach you even more about Himself, and that He would give you opportunities to let everyone know that He is the biggest and the best. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart!

  7. Laurie Messer

    Hi, Jennifer! I absolutely love this list and agree with each one. I’ve been married for 18 years and I would say that #1 has been the glue that has held us together. That and a commitment to keeping God at the center of our marriage.

    Sharing on my blog’s FB fan page tomorrow!

    Walking in His Grace,

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hello, my friend! Thanks so much for stopping by, and for taking the time to say hello. I’m glad the wisdom of your experience confirms this list! 🙂 You’re so sweet to share this post! Thank you.

  8. Chantal Robertson

    Hello 🙂 Thank you for the great tips! I’ve been married 4.5yrs and I’m very happy, but I know it’s only because I belong to God and look to Him and mature Christians in my church fellowship as to what marriage is and not at the world’s standards. By His grace and mercy on my life alone! Thank you. I particularly struggle with numbers 5 and 6 and particularly agree with number 7! But all very valuable and agree with them. God bless.

  9. Kate

    I LOVE THIS!!! Thank you! My husband and I just celebrated 10 years, and like all couples, we have had bumps in the road and continue to grow individually and in our relationship. This is such a great perspective on how to remain happily married.

  10. Tanya S.

    I’m so glad to know that is a Christian influence out there for married women. My husband and I just celebrated 7 years married. I’ve learned that there are ups and downs. He and I have had some serious downs. All of your points are great. I am doing everything single one. But what I would like to add is that I have learned marriage does not come easy. It’s hard work. When you say those vows everything seems rainbows and sunshine but struggles and trials will come. Satan will make sure of it. So if it’s worth fighting for, (and it is if it was before God) fight with everything you have. Let God be the one at the forefront of the battle.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Amen, amen, amen, Tanya! I completely agree with you. You might be interested to read a post I wrote for another website along the lines of enemy attacks on our marriages. If so, you can find it here. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for sharing from the wisdom of your experience!

  11. Cindy

    I absolutely love these tips! I’ve struggled with each and everyone of these in our marriage. I guess its the A type personality and being 23 years in the military. But even though I have struggled I can say we have been happily married for 18.5 years. I will add that the best thing that has helped our marriage is finding a hobby we both enjoy and can do together. We love riding our Harley’s! We get on them whether separately or together and all the life worries just now away into the wind!

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hi, Cindy, and welcome! Thank you for stopping by. 🙂 I think you bring up a great point. Enjoying time together is so important in a marriage, isn’t it? Thanks for chiming in with your experience!

  12. Aimee Imbeau

    I know what you mean by our years of marriage are nothing compared to some of the married couples out there. When I was speaking last week, I’d begin with how many years Marcus and I have been married – almost 18 – and then I’d say something to the effect that it isn’t as long as most of the ladies there – then I shared a funny story about my marriage. After one talk, one lady came up to me and said, “If you think 18 years is long, try 52!”. It was such a blessing to hear that.
    I suppose, 18 years really is a long time these days, sadly.
    This is such a great list, Jennifer! I think I would add “a lot of laughter – every day” and “wait for the good stuff” – meaning, the first years of marriage tend to be the most difficult. But when you get through those initial hard things, the ‘good stuff’ comes. Most couple don’t want to wait that long.


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