Marriage is a journey. Couple walking along dirt road.

Marriage is a Journey, Not a Destination: Tips from Seasoned Travelers

Marriage Dynamics InstituteCommitment, Communication, Connection, Contentment, Goals, Intimacy, Marriage Health, Romance, When Life is Difficult

Marriage is a journey. You don’t suddenly arrive at a great marriage.

Rather, you discover it one day at a time.

Sometimes it’s like a thrill ride! Other times it’s a strenuous uphill climb.

No one can completely map out their marriage journey because life… happens.

But there are things you can do to make sure your relationship is ready for whatever comes your way as you travel the years together.

Here are some tips from seasoned travelers to encourage you on your marriage journey.

Create ritual connections.

Find something that represents you as a couple and make it your thing. It could be as simple as a standing date for Friday morning coffee and conversation, or perhaps Saturday night board games. Maybe you like concert videos on YouTube and make a regular time to enjoy music together. That’s a ritual. And if you want to laugh and dance and sing – go for it!

Rituals can deepen and strengthen your connection to each other. Some couples enjoy rituals that everyone can see, like wearing color coordinated outfits. Don’t laugh. That would be us!

Cher and Demetris (22 years)

What you say matters.

Show respect to each other both in public and in private.  What you say about your spouse should show respect when you are with others, whether your spouse is present or not. And your words and actions toward your spouse should demonstrate respect when it’s just the two of you. Being respectful toward your spouse not only builds trust, it nourishes love.

Owen and Lauren (25 years)

Focus on the good.

Have fun and enjoy your marriage, but don’t take your relationship for granted. Marriage has to be intentional. Choose to live by Philippians 4:8-9 with each other, focusing on the good in each other, what is “excellent and praiseworthy” especially when you don’t feel like it! God promises to bring peace to your hearts and to your relationship.

“Whatever is good and right and true…excellent and praiseworthy…think on these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Dave and Mary (26 years)

You can be right, and oh so wrong.

Be intentional in how you communicate with each other. Your tone, your timing, and how you share your opinions and thoughts is at least as important as what you are actually saying. If the words you say are overshadowed by how and when you communicate, you won’t be heard.

Another communication tip: Remember you are on the same team with shared goals, so treat each other respectfully even when you disagree.

Bill and Deborah (34 years)

Listen and learn from your differences.

Early in our marriage, we had a rather spirited discussion about something. That was not unusual in my family of origin, but it was in Ken’s. To him, the discussion felt like an angry argument and he withdrew. Ten minutes later I could barely recall what we had talked about.

You and your spouse may see the same situation very differently. So ask questions. Then listen carefully with the goal of understanding the other’s point of view. Give each other space when needed. But talk it out when you are ready. Don’t just stuff your feelings and move on. Use these opportunities to deepen your emotional intimacy which fuels connection. Differences can be real strengths in your marriage relationship.

Ken and Melody (36 years)

Be of good courage!

We all make mistakes. In the marital relationship, there will be times when one or both spouses make mistakes, and these mistakes can place tremendous pressure on the marriage bond. Some mistakes are easily forgiven and for others, time is the only cure.

Sometimes poor decision-making in your relationship will put you in the “penalty box” in your marriage. You might even be “regulated to the bench” for a while. What do you think about when you feel disconnected from your spouse, “on the bench” so to speak? Do you ever worry that you won’t be able to get back in the game? Before you start thinking that “all hope seems gone,” before you “throw in the towel,” remember that it is still possible to find joy in your relationship. But an attitude adjustment may be needed, and faith is required.

The scriptures remind us to be of good courage.

“Wait in faith on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.” Psalm 27:14

A determined mind can bring about change. It sounds like positive thinking because it is. With a determined spirit you can correct the path of your marriage that has gone off course and redirect it towards joy and happiness. It is not always easy to get back on course, especially in the difficult seasons of life,  but with God’s help it is possible.

Robert and Stella (50 years)

Improve your connection and strengthen your marriage by participating in a nine-week marriage course. Get help for a marriage in trouble at the original three-day A New Beginning workshop. Contact us today for information about these and other resources to support your marriage.

About the Author

Marriage Dynamics Institute

Marriage Dynamics Institute (MDI) wants to cultivate healthy families, churches, and communities by helping create marriages full of joy, meaning, and purpose. Having served more than 75,000 couples since 1994, MDI offers workshops and seminars for marriages at every stage, including those in crisis.