The Secret to Staying Happily Married

If you are married, do you remember the first couple of weeks and months that you were dating your spouse? You couldn’t get enough of them. You went out of your way to see them. You stayed up late talking to them. You argued about who was going to hang up first (was that just Trisha and me?). Your relationship was growing and deepening with each moment that you spent together. You left work early to see her. You cancelled plans with your friends to spend the evening with him. You couldn’t get enough time together.

Then you got married. Your career started. You bought a house. You had some kids. Your priorities changed. Your schedule changed. It wasn’t that your desire to spend time with your spouse left, it just fell further down the list of your priorities.

I want to share with you what I believe to be the secret to, not just staying married, but staying happily married. It isn’t rocket science but is something that EVERY couple I know struggles with.

Spend time together.

It was time that allowed you to fall in love in the first place. Now it is a lack of time that keeps you stagnant and from growing deeper in your marriage relationship. There are other things that make up a successful marriage…but none of them work without time. Time is the secret ingredient. Time is where you have to start.

Trish and I struggle with this just like every couple. We have seasons of travel;  seasons of kids in different sports; seasons of lots of speaking engagements with RefineUs; seasons of intensity with my job at Cross Point; seasons of writing; seasons of stress. The first thing to go when we hit a high demand season is time with one another. For some reason, it is the easiest thing to sacrifice.

Here are two types of time you need to spend with your spouse. Each of these two times should be monthly.

1. Business meetings. 

You and your spouse are running a mini-business. You have income; you have expenses; you have deadlines; if you have kids, you have people you are responsible for and that report to you. You have schedules to make and budgets to think through.

Once a month, you need to set aside time with your spouse (Trish and I usually do this at Starbucks) and go over business. Talk bills; talk schedules; talk calendars; talk kid’s school plays and recitals and games; plan for the next few months and look ahead. This will help keep you on the same page even when life gets intense.

2. Date nights. 

Date nights are essential to the couple that want to have a great marriage. What allowed you fall in love with your spouse? Dates. What put spice and romance into your relationship with your spouse? Dates. What was the first thing to go when life got busy? Dates. Why do we think we can have a great marriage and compromise time with our spouse?

Once a month go out on a date. We usually go out to dinner. I would say half of our date nights are casual dates. We usually go to Chili’s or to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. Then the other half of our date nights we try to make romantic. I buy flowers. Trish dresses up. We make reservations. We do dinner then go for a walk somewhere romantic.

Dates aren’t for talking business. Talk dreams; talk desires; ask questions; talk insecurities; talk fears; talk hopes; be a good listener; talk about your future…individually, as a couple, as a family. Date your spouse, and I guarantee your relationship will grow deeper.

What is the biggest challenge you have in spending time with your spouse?

14 Responses to The Secret to Staying Happily Married

  1. Broken-hearted

    My husband and I went on monthly dates for 8 years. We spent a lot of time together…..with our kids, doing ministry togeher at our church, time alone after kids went to bed. And then he had an affair with our 19 year old babysitter, who consequently was the girl watching our kids on all those dates we had gone on during the past 8 years. Time didn’t protect our marriage from adultery. A year has passed. We’re together, but I’m still really struggling.

  2. Noel Ojerio

    Hello Justin ! Way to go brother. This is Noel , a husband , a father of five kids , a pastor. and your new Twitter follower from the Philippines. Keep up the good work MAN OF GRACE. With the proliferation of crumbling marriages around us , we need more messages like these. God bless you brow.

  3. Sis

    We don’t have business meetings, that would be nice. I should figure out a way to add those into our lives.

  4. Michele

    Several children, most with special needs, two severe, no babysitters or outside support or help.. being a work & sports widow… definitely makes a negative impact. But if one doesn’t care, there’s really no hope.

    • That is a really hard stage of life to be in…I will pray that you guys can look for small moments to steal for one another.

    • Nicole

      Michele, there is ALWAYS hope with God!! If you feel like your husband doesn’t care, pray!! You can’t change him, but God can change his heart!! And He may just change yours along the way too 🙂

  5. Were having a hard time enjoying our time with the kids6, 6 and 2 months with the stress of adhd issues concerning our son, breast feeding our infant and tending to my daughters needs too. By the time my husband and i are down to just us its bed time.

  6. Lately time is scarce. We have so many commitments and obligations. We are having to really communicate in the small amount of time we have. While this is challenging, I think it is really building us stronger.
    We also make sure to pray for each other during our evening prayers together. It is nice to hear that my spouse realizes my hard work and appreciates me- that he lifts me up before God.
    Praying out loud for each other has been a real blessing. Sometimes I learn more about my spouses heart through prayers than through all the conversations during the day!

  7. Good words. The dates are critical. We have 4 kids, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have quality time – especially since the older kids are almost staying up as late as we do. We try to maximize the early AM hour to pray together and talk before the kids get up, but that’s taken a back seat over summer since kids don’t have to be up for school. We can feel the results of losing that time already.

    • So true Fred. It is like a slow drip of energy and connection from your relationship. Thankful for your commitment to it.