Building a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime (from a not-so-perfect wife)

I remember my Grandmother telling me before my wedding, and just after she and my Grandfather celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, that I did not yet know true love. She explained that making it through hard times together would intensify my love for Ray, but ultimately loving him would be a daily choice. I couldn’t imagine then that I would ever not have loving feelings towards Ray, or even that I could love him any more than I already did, but I can say with all certainty that my Grandma was right.

Our journey, mine and Ray’s, has not always been easy. There have been many bumps in the road, huge potholes, and quite a few hills. We certainly didn’t expect marriage to be easy, and we knew it would take work to maintain a healthy relationship, but we didn’t quite expect to be traveling down the road we have traveled thus far.

Thankfully we have had many great people, like my Grandmother, share priceless nuggets of wisdom over the years. These gems are what got us through the the last 15 years. While I know we have much to learn, I would like to share what we have learned thus far, mostly due to trial and error.

Building a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime

Make your spouse a priority

With seven kids, and our own businesses, it can be easy to forget about making each other a priority. As soon as we start to feel disconnected, Ray and I make an extra effort to re-establish our bond. At times this means simply a quick lunch date, and at other times we feel the need to go away alone for an entire weekend. For us, praying and being in God’s Word does wonders for our connection. With Christ as our center, we have more of a desire to put each other first.

Talk it out

Don’t let issues fester and build up until you explode, as I am so often tempted to do. It’s important to talk about what you are feeling, when you have these feelings. Regular and consistent communication helps prevent misconceptions and insures you are both on the same page.

Cultivate trust

You simply can not have a healthy marriage without trust. The trust Ray and I have for each other has not always been strong. There have been times when I didn’t think I could trust him, and times that he broke the trust I did place in him. Ultimately, Ray is my best friend and I am there for him through thick and thin, as I know he is for me. I’ve failed him many times, but the assurance that he has the same trust in me is very important to me.


You will mess up. You will hurt and disappoint each other. Admitting when you are wrong and choosing forgiveness will strengthen the bond you have as a married couple and increase your trust in one another.

Always sleep together

I have heard many people claim they never go to bed angry with their spouse, but  in our 15 years of marriage I can honestly say that it hasn’t always been possible. And, for us, that’s been okay. There have been issues that we’ve had to deal with and heal from that require more time than what would have been allowed in one day. That said, I only remember one occasion in which we did not sleep in the same bed (sans when one of us was traveling). There have certainly been plenty of nights when there was no touching, or even talking, and we slept the entire night with our backs to each other (or didn’t even sleep at all). No matter how I felt about the situation with which we were dealing, however, I knew my husband was there with me and wasn’t going anywhere. That was a great comfort, even in the midst of trial.

Do your own thing

I enjoy my husband’s company and often choose to spend time with him in a way I may not find to be the most enjoyable – like watching a soccer game on tv…ahem. While it’s key to cultivate similar interests and hobbies in a marriage, I believe it’s equally important to remember that it’s more than okay to have your own interests. Ray is great about encouraging me to pursue what I enjoy even if it doesn’t include him, and I am so grateful for that!

Don’t air your dirty laundry

In the age of social media and over sharing, this one is tough. Many Facebook updates and blog posts have been typed out in frustration, only to be deleted after realizing that airing my dirty laundry would cause more damage than good. Instead of going public with our problems, we have been pretty good about keeping them between us. If we need counsel or prayer, we will talk to a trusted friend instead of turning to our social channels.

Choose to love

To make a marriage last a lifetime, remember that feelings ebb and flow. When those warm and fuzzy feelings of lust and desire fade, you must choose to love. Just as my Grandmother advised me, I choose every day to love Ray, even when I don’t really like him.

I could go on and on, but I’d love to hear from you… What words of wisdom do YOU have to add?

6 Ways to Rediscover That Lovin’ Feeling

I’ve always loved Ray with a very sincere and passionate love, but it felt for a bit as though we had “lost that lovin’ feeling.” I suppose it could have been the fact that I was either pregnant or nursing for the majority of the first eight years of our mariage. Or, perhaps, it was stress over finances and the cares of running a household of so many. I suspect, though, that it was as simple as taking each other for granted and losing sight of why we fell in love so many years ago.

Falling in love again with your spouse is definitely possible. Ray and I are proof. Recently there was a major shift in our relationship. We, once again, feel like giddy newlyweds and are often mistaken for such when we’re out on our bi-monthly dates. I believe it’s because we’ve made each other a priority, we take time for meaningful conversations, and we’ve just plain relaxed.

What else?

Texting – When I receive a quick “thinking about you” or “i love you” text from Ray it immediately brings a smile to my face. This simple act can go a long way to let your spouse know that you care. It’s fun to get creative with your messages, too!

Handwritten love notes – Before the age of iMessage, email and Facebook, Ray and I got to know each other through hand-written letters. Now, many years later, little notes, sometimes scrawled out in a hurry, brings back those warm memories of young love.

“Parking” dates – It’s easy to get in a rut on date nights. A friend, just the other day, recommended ordering fast food and finding a great place to “park.” With the music turned down low, just go with the flow and relax together.

Going away together – Ray and I are big believers in taking time away to focus on each other. In addition to our regular date nights, we try to go away for a night or two at least once a month. This mini-vacation restores intimacy and proves to each other that our marriage is a priority. It also shows our children know that we  value alone time.

Quickies – I know what you are thinking, but I am referring to just a quick phone call, a brief visit to the office, or just a quiet time out in the evening to focus on each other. It doesn’t have to be long, but proving to each other that nothing is more important is so necessary for a healthy marriage.

Reminiscing – I recently sat for hours and looked through old letters, cards, and photos from early in our marriage. Seeing our raw emotions and feelings expressed in words brought back that warm feeling of joy and happiness. Reminiscing together about your firsts as a couple is sure to spark some pleasant conversations.

How do you and your spouse keep the spark alive in your marriage?

photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor via photopin cc, text added

Great Valentine’s Day Ideas for the Whole Family

Valentine Ideas for the Whole Family

Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate your love for each other as an entire family. There are so many great activities and goodies that everyone can enjoy together. Here are some great ideas. (Most of them incredibly easy for this craft-challenged mama!)

Follow Christine Young’s board Valentine Ideas For Kiddos on Pinterest.

Ray and I have never really gone out and made a big deal of Valentine’s Day. It really is just another day for us to show our love and appreciation for each other, as we try to do every day. Actually, just a couple of days later is a big anniversary for us. This year, on February 16th, Ray and I will have been an official couple for 17 years! SEVENTEEN YEARS!!!

So, on Valentine’s Day this year, like most, we will be staying in. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t make the day special or still have a romantic evening of our own. I’ve gathered just a few ideas on Pinterest to inspire the same for you.

Follow Christine Young’s board Be Mine on Pinterest.

What do you and your family do for Valentine’s Day? Any special traditions?

Keeping the Spark Alive in your Marriage

Long-term relationships and marriages take work. There’s no easy way to gain a strong relationship, however there are small things to try every day to keep things going well. Here are just a few.

couple under umbrella

Spend time together

Spending quality time together is very important. Even though you might think you spend lots of time with your partner, much of it will be taken up with everyday chores, childcare or other commitments. Set aside time every week to spend just with each other. If possible, choose some activities you both really enjoy rather than just going to the same restaurant every time.

Meet up with friends

Seeing friends together can help a relationship to grow stronger as you can see your partner through the eyes of others. The way we behave with our friends is not the same as the way we behave with our partners, so seeing friends brings a bit of variety to a relationship. It also allows you to do something different from the everyday routine and gives you both the chance to have fun.

Talk to each other

Communicating means really having time to talk and listen to each other, rather than just saying a few words in passing. How often do you talk in any depth? Do you mainly only text your partner when you want something from the shop? Try and make more time to communicate with each other.

couple in vineyard

Spend time alone

Spending time alone or with your own friends will give you a chance to grow in a personal sense and bring more to your relationship. Couples who do everything together risk getting bored of each other quickly. Make time with your own friends and work towards your own goals.

Get bored

From time to time, you will get bored! Not everything can feel like the first rush of romance after meeting through eHarmony. There’s no need to panic that the relationship has failed if you’re not totally enamored of each other all the time. People change over time and it’s important to cherish what you love about your partner at every stage in the relationship.

Create your own happiness

Happy couples are able to work together to keep their relationship strong. If you rely on your partner to make you happy, the relationship will not last. Both partners need to be able to feel complete by themselves in order to be complete together. Don’t put too much pressure on each other to fit in to a particular idea – create your own goals and discuss them together.

Respect each other

Respect is very important for a strong relationship. If you met your partner through online dating, you will hopefully have the same wants and needs. If you don’t have respect for your partner’s goals, the relationship may become strained. Talk about the things which make you feel fulfilled and listen to each other. A respectful partner can help the other to be the person they want to be.

A Valentine’s Date IN

Ray and I are big advocates of having regular date nights, but we’ve also discovered how fun and romantic it is to plan and prepare a meal together at home. One of our favorite meals out is Shrimp Portofino, with a nice glass of wine, so we decided to see if we could re-create this fabulous meal at home – for much less.

shrimp portofino ingredients

We purchased everything we needed at Walmart to create this delicious evening, complete with a scrumptious chocolate dessert. You, too, can create a romantic evening at home, WITHOUT hiring a babysitter!

Shrimp Portofino recipe

recipe adapted from

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white mushroom, sliced
20 large shrimp, de-veined and tails removed
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 cups baby spinach, fresh
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb angel hair pasta, cooked
pine nuts

1. In a large, pre-heated skillet, add olive oil, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms and garlic start to brown.
2. Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until shrimp turn white.
3. Add spinach, lemon juice and white wine to sauté pan. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together well. Simmer for 1 minute.
4. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil and stir for 3 minutes while boiling.
5. Remove from heat, add pasta and pine nuts, and stir until pasta is hot and all ingredients are mixed well.
6. Enjoy with your sweetheart!

There are many easy and inexpensive ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day together, if you decide to stay in, even if you do not prepare a meal…

  • Watch a romantic movie after the kiddos are in bed.
  • Prepare a romantic “picnic” in
  • Create a fun get-to-know-your-spouse game

How do you plan to spend Valentine’s Day?

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received a product gift card and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.