As someone who studies marriages, I see more and more married couples just going through the routines of marriage without really enjoying the journey. At the same time, I do know couples who have learned how to make their marriage work for the good of both spouses and are truly enjoying life together. Here are a 12 ways to make marriage fun again:
- Prioritize your marriage. If you want to have fun in your marriage, you have to make your marriage a priority above your hobbies, work, and even your children. All of us would say our marriage is a priority, but do we practice what we say we believe? Our marriage should take precedence over every other human relationship and every other activity. My wife, Cheryl, knows when I put her first and when something else has my greatest attention.
- Schedule time for fun. Everyone I know is busy, but we should make sure our schedule never gets so crowded that we cannot enjoy time with the love of our life. As a pastor, I’m never really off work, but I try to be home when I am home. Still, I often hear my wife–and my boys, when they were home—ask me something like, “Are you really listening to me, or are you thinking about your next appointment?” You must set boundaries between your home and your work or other activities. Add to your calendar opportunities to have fun together. When is the last time you and your spouse went on a date? You can be wise with your expenses and still plan for date nights.
- Let worry go. Struggles will never completely disappear, so we should learn how to balance the need for control in our lives with the desire to live at peace and to trust God through the hard times of life. Don’t allow the struggles that come into your marriage to tear your marriage apart; instead, let your trials draw you closer to each other.
- Expect surprises. Stuff happens! We know that; we see bad things happen everyday. But for some reason we’re caught off guard when they happen to us. We shouldn’t be surprised when our marriage needs a little extra help because of the struggles of life. My wife, Cheryl, and I have discovered the tough times bring us closer together if we allow them to work for us rather than against us.
- Celebrate along the way. I’ve been told it takes three or four positive life occurrences to offset every negative. If this is true, then we each need to look for opportunities to celebrate the good things of life. When times are especially stressful, Cheryl and I try to make sure we remember the positives in life. They are always there, but sometimes, we have to look for them. Have you ever just taken time to reflect together on how many things you have for which you are thankful? Once you take time to celebrate, you may even discover you have a better life than you thought you did.
- Enjoy each other’s interests. It’s okay to have outside interests, but one of the goals of marriage is to enjoy life together. That usually involves enjoying each other’s activities together. I don’t like to shop necessarily, and there are certain stores where I refuse to shop, but I go shopping regularly with Cheryl because I love her and she loves shopping. It’s always amazed me that when I invest the time to shop with Cheryl, she always tries to give back to me by allowing me to enjoy one of my interests — with no guilt.
- Get away. We all need time away from the demands of life. On a pastor’s income, I can’t always take fancy vacations, but I’m not afraid to invest in my marriage. My wife and I love to travel. One of our more fun things to do together is to plan inexpensive day trips. There is something about physically leaving the environment in which we are comfortable that pushes us closer together. For years, while our sons were younger, I gave Cheryl a trip for Christmas to be used sometime during the coming year. She looked forward to the gift and the trip every year. On bad days during the year, thoughts of the upcoming trip fueled her positive emotions.
- Serve together. We’ve discovered the more we serve other people together, the more fun we have in our marriage. It gives us more common ground. Taking mission trips have become a fun way to spend time together. Serving our church together brings us closer to each other. Sharing ministry stories and experiences helps us draw from each other’s strength.
- Little things matter. Minor moments in a marriage have the potential for major impact on the relationship. It’s important to handle little issues or conflict before they become big. If a husband and wife have a minor disagreement, it can easily escalate into a major division if left unattended. Keep the relationship fresh and free from minor drama. Also allow little pleasures to bring happiness to the marriage. One of my favorite times of day is the walk Cheryl and I take at night. Those few minutes each day keep us close relationally, allow us to catch up on our day away from each other, and help me to enjoy Cheryl in a fun setting.
- Laugh at life. I read a statistic once that preschoolers laugh an average of 300 times a day and adults an average of 17 times a day. The older we get, the less we laugh. Laughter is good for your health and laughing together builds stronger relationships. Couples need to learn to laugh through life together. Cheryl and I laugh much!
- Dream together. When couples are dating, they seem to have fun discussing their future plans. Once we get married, we tend to lose the art of dreaming. Dreaming inspires and encourages the heart. Dream together as a couple—it will keep your relationship fueled with new passions and desires.
- Spread the pain. I’m trying to model my pastoral responsibilities like the Acts 6 model in the Bible. I’m learning I cannot do everything; I must delegate. So don’t be afraid to say “no” in order to protect your marriage. Many couples I know are so busy they never have time just for the two of them.
It’s also important, however, to have some close friends with whom you can share life’s burdens. None of us were meant to live on an island to ourselves, and the same is true for married couples. Cheryl and I intentionally build relationships with other couples we can trust.
Try these steps and see if the fun comes back into your marriage. Marriage is supposed to be fun!
Used with permission of Ron Edmondson. For more blog posts like this, check out Ron’s website, ronedmondson.com