10 Secrets To A Successful Marriage

This is from a Focus On The Family newsletter and I wanted to pass it on!


Here are ten principles that will help you create and maintain a successful marriage.

Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience – trial and error.

Here are ten principles of success I have learned from working with and observing hundreds of couples:

  1. Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.
  2. Couples discover the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.
  3. If you do what you always do, you will get same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.
  4. Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.
  5. Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.
  6. The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth – i.e. someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.
  7. You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope – almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.
  8. Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” – when it feels good and when it doesn’t.
  9. Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Successful couples have learned to resist holding grudges, bringing up the past and remembering that they married an imperfect person – and so did their spouse.
  10. A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.
Copyright © 2009, Mitch Temple.

A Wedding Today

As I sat on my couch this morning, writing another post for later this week, the doorbell rang.   I opened the door to this fresh smiling face, remembering why she was here.  This young lady was one of the bridesmaids for a wedding we were attending later this afternoon.  She was here to join the rest of the girls downstairs in our basement before the day-long preparation for the wedding.

We have a beautiful young Godly woman named Sarah who has lived with us this past year, and today is her wedding day.

As I opened the basement door to show Sarah’s friend downstairs, sounds of joyful laughter and chatting filled the stairwell, as did the fragrance of pampering and preparations.

I was struck by the importance of this day for Sarah.  Not just the “importance” of a wedding, but the deep down significance of the committment she is about to make.  What would I tell her about marriage if she asked?

That while it may not always be easy, it is a beautiful weaving of two souls over many years of experiences, trials, disappointments, and victories. That even though you are convinced the other person needs to change, the true change comes from within yourself–through grace and forgiveness and acceptance.  I would remind her that she is marrying a sinner (and that she is one also) so don’t hold her future spouse to the level of a saint. The quote, “The purpose of marriage is to bring you to the end of yourself” has beautiful significance if one chooses to accept it.

I would share that the legacy of committment and perseverance even through the dark valleys of your relationship will echo for generations to come, and that some of the best moments are those when you both just hold each other, with words unspoken, knowing that regardless of what stresses weigh you both down, all will be ok as long as you have each other.

Finally, I would tell her that the greatest gift in life is to have married your best friend.

Those are the words I would share with Sarah, because it is the truth I have found.  But not today.  So much of that is just learned in the journey together, hand and hand and hand–with God.

Sarah just came up the stairs on her way to the events and preparations of the day.  I ran to give her a hug and tell her we are praying for her.  We will see her in white as she walks down the aisle.

These are the photos from the wedding later that day.  It was an amazing wedding, so filled with love and joy, and centered on God’s beautiful gift of marriage.











His Wife

Hello!  Jen and I are gearing up to begin regularly posting again in June.  We are going to kick off with a great give-away so stay tuned.  

I want to share with you a devotional I read this morning from Stormie Omartian’s book, “A Book of Prayer.”   It spoke to me and encouraged me to strive to be this kind of partner.  Men, you can substitute “husband”  for wife if you so desire.

                                                            His Wife

Lord I confess the times I’ve been unloving, critical, angry, resentful, disrespectful, or unforgiving toward my husband.

Help me to put aside any hurt, anger, or disappointment I feel and forgive him the way You do totally and completely, no looking back.  Make me a tool of reconciliation, peace, and healing in this marriage.  Make me my husband’s helpmate, companion, champion, friend, and support.

Help me to create a peaceful, restful, safe place for him to come home to.  Teach me how to take care of myself and stay attractive to him.  Grow me into a creative and confident woman who is rich in mind, soul and spirit.  Make me the kind of woman he can be proud to say is his wife. p. 245

If you know Stormie’s background, her marriage almost fell apart.  She speaks from walking through the fire.

May you feel a renewed spirit toward your spouse today.



“What, You Don’t Like Shopping??”

Written By Amy

It’s spring break at our house, and yesterday I was able to take my son, Hunter, on a few errands with me while his sisters were busy doing other things.  On my list was running him into Old Navy to pick out some summer t-shirts. Quality time shopping with my son sounded fun to me!  However, as we browsed the t-shirt displays, I found myself turning into a marketing guru as I tried to convince my son of the “coolness” of each shirt I held up.   Finding four he liked, we exited the store just in time for my son to breathe a sigh of relief.

Later as we left the mall, I asked Hunter which t-shirt he liked the best (mainly to create small talk, but also to gauge if I would be returning the shirts this weekend)  He listed two, and then paused and said…”I can’t really remember what the other two were like.” (What?) I replied with a side-arm hug and thought to myself, “One, he definitely got the aversion to shopping gene from his Dad, and two, how could he not remember new clothes he received just ten minutes before?!”

This interaction with my son was a good reminder to me that we are different, as men and women, and as Hunter developes into a young man, I need to learn who he is apart from my perspective and understanding of the world as a woman.  It also reminded me that God created us differently so that the two genders may compliment each other (for example, most men would have little or no clothes if it weren’t for the “shopping” women in their lives, and the women need the men to get them out of the store!)

Is it possible to see our differences as strengths and compliments, not just frustrations? I believe so.

We can choose to embrace the unique person God created our significant other to be.  We can make the choice to view our spouse as God views them, lovingly, with the understanding that their personality parts were made to fit our personality parts perfectly like a puzzle…weak touches strong, introvert touches extrovert, passive touches aggressive, emotional touches rational, and so on.  And, thank God, we are not always polar opposite…there is abundant common ground.

This verse can explain God’s intention for our differences:

So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.   Genesis 1:27 NIV

The man in your life with qualities you can’t imagine having yourself?                  Created in God’s image.

The woman in your life who seems like she is sometimes from another planet?          Created in God’s image.

We are both in God’s image.  God intended  man and woman to not only co-exist with their differences, but to fall in love with each other, connecting perfectly together like pieces of a puzzle.

Happy differences (and happy shopping)!






A Little Perspective from Mexico

Written By Amy

Last week my husband and I traveled to Mexico for a 6-day vacation…no kids, just us.  Although we almost brought Hannah, Hunter and Maddie (don’t tell them), we decided in the end to preserve the time for our marriage.  As you well know, vacationing is just “different” with little people, as we noted several times during our trip from the vantage point of our pool chairs, watching dads haul crying children out of the pool or moms trailing wet little ducklings behind them.

This trip to Mexico has been somewhat of a tradition for Jonathan and me.  We started it several years ago when Jonathan started working for Frontier Airlines and we could fly free, and we could stay almost free with the airline hotel deals.  We would literally “escape”  for three or four days, leaving behind crying, poop, sleepless nights, and utter survival mode as parents of three children under the age of 6.  We just simply needed to recharge and reconnect.  We would do nothing but read books and eat and sleep, while the ocean waves crashed their rhythm on the beach by our chairs.  Getting on the plane to return was bittersweet….we absolutely love our children, but life those days was hard and we had to gear up to get back in the game.  The result was exponential…we had poured some energy back into “us” as we re-entered our world of 24/7 on-call duty, and our marriage had been rejuvenated over long walks on the beach and uninterrupted dinners.

We have tried to do a short trip each year since then.  Lessons were learned.  The following year we decided to go at the last-minute and grabbed a “cheap” (literally) hotel in Cancun.  I remember the van driver stopping at the first hotel and calling our names….I wanted to say, “Ummm, sir, that’s not us, there must be another Hayes on this van!” as we squinted at the poorly kept hotel where we were supposed spend the next four days .  We probably should have never left the van….I ended up terribly sick on our trip home…resparitory infection, kidney infection, E coli –yes!, and Giardia.  Advice was given to us…never stay in less than a 4-star in Mexico.

Advice taken, and we went back the next year to a great place in Ixtapa that actually had remotes for the tv and pictures on the wall.

We have traveled with friends to Mexico which has been so fun, and our kids have gone a couple of times over the past few years, but I still hold dear to my heart the times my husband and I get to go alone.  It is precious time for our relationship.  We have days just to be together…to talk about life and our family and our marriage. It feels like dating all over again…which is a good thing after 18 years of marriage!

This year was one of the best times we’ve had yet.  It is different now, our time together, and what we talk about.  Our kids are older and Jon and I are no longer in survival mode.  We are in a serious building phase of our family, with one child entering high school next year, the next entering middle school, and the third wrapping up her elementary experience at the top of the ladder.  It feels like our time as a family really counts….before we know it they will start leaving the nest.

Because we are not completely exhausted, we have energy to talk about goals and plans and character-building in our family.  This time together was rich with that.  Instead of reading novels that took us away from our life, we dove into our life with books like “The Resolution” and “Keeping The Good in Your (Tween) Boy.”  Much of our pool time consisted of reading and  nudging each other to say, “You have got to read this part!”  Then, over a casual lunch in an open-air restaurant, or a stroll along the beach, we would discuss what we were learning and how to apply it to our family.

We came home with a list of goals for our family, and I thought I would share them with you:

1. Family Faith Night on Sunday or Monday night each week.   This may be an event with a family outing or games at home, or it may be Jonathan reading some scripture and talking with the kids about it.  Sometimes planning our FFNights seems overwhelming because of the planning time, etc. so we decided to keep it simple and know it doesn’t always have to last 2 hours.

2. Giving the kids a half an hour of quality time each, each week.  This may seem easy, but it never seems to be in our family with all of our different schedules and directions.  This may look like a bike ride, a chess game, a read-aloud, or whatever the kids want.  We are going to be deliberate and plan this time out at the beginning of each week. We want to commit to this.

3. Moving up bedtime so that Jon and I are not complete useless blobs of tired-ness when we tuck the kids in.  We want to have them in bed early enough that we still have some of our best to give them, whether to read to them or just process the day with them.

4. I am going to research internet safety–I have not put controls on our computers yet!!

5.  Time to revisit and discuss with our kids more about sex.  After some of the reading we did, the message I heard was…don’t assume they understand it all!  Keep the communication open.

We also took time in Mexico to pray for the major themes in our life–Marriage, Children, Work, etc.  Jon led this time and read some bible verses and we discussed the application for our family.  It was meaningful and rich.

After all the talking about family, we were so excited to return home and reconnect with our kids.  By removing ourselves from our life for a few days, we gained perspective and could re-order our goals, and enter our life with renewed committment.

AND we decided to bring Hannah, Hunter and Maddie with us next year.  They would just love the all-inclusive deal.  All the nachos and ice cream they can eat! Heaven!

We would take this path from the pool to the ocean several times a day.  I LOVED the jungle!

One view of the pool.

Each day we were greeted with a new towel creation.

                                  This was the view from our room.


Jonathan on the beach boardwalk….looking forward to feeling the sand in our feet again sometime.

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