I love this time of year. It feels like the eye of the storm—the chaos of Christmas has passed, and a fresh new year is just starting. It’s a time to reflect on the past year (good and bad) and anticipate all that can be in the year to come. Many make goals and resolutions this time of year, and they’re great when they work! However, I feel that this time of year is a bit more weighty—more rife with opportunity—than simple goals and resolutions give it credit for. I prefer to think of this as a time to draw back the bowstring, load up your best arrows, and take aim at big, crazy, fun, and faith-driven endeavors. It’s a time to aim high with an open-handed, faith-filled attitude for what God may be up to.
For example, Fierce Marriage was launched on a New Year’s day (6 years ago) somewhat on a whim, and here we are!
First things first
If you’re like me (and like most), goals you make usually revolve around work and lifestyle: “hit this revenue milestone” or “pay off such-and-such debt”. Those goals are good, so long as they’re in the proper context of your identity in Christ and your Gospel-centered purpose as a new creation in him.
This year, I’m urging myself (and you!) to look closer to home when targeting big, crazy endeavors. Consider this: how can your marriage and family be different and/or more healthy this year? What experiences can you pursue together that will build your faith and trust in God while making use of your days to glorify him? Really… think about it. What could be?
To that end, I’ve compiled this list of 5 tips/tools that I think are very helpful for building on specific, important aspects of your marriage. I hope they help you!
Selena and I also covered this topic in much greater depth via our podcast! Have a listen or continue reading below, we hope it blesses you.
Please feel free to check out our other podcast episodes here.
Read: 5 Tips (and Tools) for a Stronger Marriage
Note that the tools below are meant to be VERY tangible, but the ideas they support cut to the core of important issues in every marriage. Read on and if I do my job, it should make sense. :)
1: Pray for Each Other Intentionally
Prayer changes things because God changes things. When we pray, particularly through Scripture, we begin to align our hearts with God’s. That’s when miracles happen. If you’ve never learned the habit of praying intentionally for and with your spouse, perhaps it’s time to do something different?
Tool: The 40-Day Prayer Journey
Selena and I just finished writing prayer devotionals for husbands and wives. I definitely encourage you to give these books a try. They’re centered on praying Scripture over your husband/wife every day for 40 days. Before and after, you take an inventory that helps you identify tangible ways that God has worked in your marriage over the duration of your journey. Disclaimer: we wrote these books. :)
2: Learn New Relational Skills
Self-awareness and the ability to understand relational/mental health (i.e. psychology) are good graces of God. I grew up with a shrink for a dad (not always fun), and I can say that he’s helped thousands of people through his work. The thing is, not everyone can afford to go to counseling and there are definitely taboos around it. Surprisingly, we’ve talked to many couples we look up to who went to counseling BEFORE things got bad in their marriage, and it has helped them thrive in countless ways. Now, Selena and I are already talking about getting counseling this year, just to make sure we’re as healthy as we can possibly be… but it’s expensive!
Tool: The Lasting App
A few months ago I met Steven, the founder of this incredible marriage app. The app isn’t overtly “Christian” (meaning, it’s not a devotional app), Steven is a brother in Christ, and the gospel is his main driver behind wanting to help couples. I now use the app, and every time (EVERY TIME) I use it, I learn something new about myself and/or Selena, and how to love her better. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
3. Discuss and Agree on a Saving Plan
So much frustration happened in the early years of our marriage because we never saved money well. Part of the problem was that we made very little, but it was also due to our inability to build sustainable saving habits. If I’m honest, it’s still a conscious effort to find agreement in this area and execute our plan sustainably. Studies show that couples who discuss and agree on a financial plan enjoy a more stable relationship. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about how well you steward what God entrusts into your care.
Two years ago I downloaded this new app that was supposed to help me make (and keep) saving goals. I set up to round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and put the change in a separate bank account. That’s it… then I forgot all about it (typical, I know). I was shocked when I looked at it months later and found more than $1,500 dollars socked away. We used that money to help purchase our used camper! The app has been a game changer for us. It will even pause withdrawals from your account if you’re below a certain threshold it doesn’t cause overdrafts. Brilliant!
Use our special link to get $5 for trying it out (we get $5 too). No strings attached, it’s 100% FREE. I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped us!
4. Escape Together More Often
Folks who know us know that we love to take random, unplanned trips to new places. We’ll often just pack a bag and throw the kids in the car and start driving. It always makes for good conversations and fun memories. We’d argue that “getting away” is one of the biggest reasons our friendship has remained strong over the years. For that reason, we always encourage couples to make quick escapes a regular part of their marriage.
If you’re not aware, AirBNB is a website where you can rent rooms, beds, or entire homes from normal people. I love it because we always meet interesting people and save money in the process. It’s shocking how many places are available on their website. AirBNB continues to be an invaluable tool for us. We probably spent 25 nights in an AirBNB room/house this year alone. Why? Because they’re always much more affordable, clean, fun, and interesting!
5. Pursue Each Other More Each Day
When you said “I do”, you were committing showing one another love in all seasons and circumstances. Many couples forget that love is an action first and an emotion second. As marriages mature, it’s vital that both pursue one another with fresh vigor and creativity. Doing so keeps things fresh and ensures you don’t drift apart when the feelings of love aren’t readily apparent (we’ve all been there). That’s why we created this devotional series: the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge.
Tool: The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge
We wrote these books last year and the feedback has been so fun. The goal of the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge (2 books) is to help husbands and wives think of creative, meaningful ways to pursue each other. Couples who “take the challenge” will have honest conversations, initiate intimacy in new ways, plan memorable dates, devise elaborate escapes, and explore small ways to show genuine affection. Most importantly, we wrote these books to help readers gain a deeper understanding of their identity in Christ as the FOUNDATION for why they choose to love their spouse intentionally every day.
One Theme: Intentionality
If you’re picking up on a theme, it’s because there is one that I cannot overstate: intentionality in your marriage. Whether you’re learning to grow in your faith, deepen your understanding of your spouse, seeking to experience new things, or tidying up your savings goals, everything takes intentionality. Be intentional, but remember not to get your identity or meaning from what you do, but rather who you are: a child of God, saved by grace and for His glory.
Note: Everything I’ve shared above are tools we honestly use and believe in. Every single one. I wouldn’t recommend something if I didn’t actually find it helpful myself. :) I hope this post helps you!
Additions to this list?
Please feel free to leave a comment below with any other tips or tools you know of that will help us or others build a stronger marriage.