If you could go back in time and share one piece of marriage advice with the younger you, what would it be? You may remember when you were a newlywed, and you had insight from books, family, and friends to sift through. But anymore, it seems like you’re entirely on your own. As you juggle your work and personal schedule, your spouse’s expectations, the needs of your kids, and everything else, you’re doing the best you can. But at your core, you feel something is off. You haven’t had a heart-to-heart with your spouse in months (or even years), your hard times are getting harder, and there is a part of you wondering if you will ever get back to the way things were when you were giddy and in love at the altar. We’re here to say you’re not alone. The following are three fundamentals of a healthy marriage, and they’re directly from couples who have learned about them firsthand.

1. Marriage is a safe place

“I trusted in myself rather than God and the people He put in my life. In isolation, I had an affair with a coworker. When I married Jenny, I swore I’d take that secret to the grave.” —Andy, Time To Tell The Truth We sometimes think that certain secrets are weightier than others. We tell ourselves the lie that complete honesty will ultimately do more harm than good. We sometimes even promise ourselves that, much like Andy, we’ll take our secrets with us to the grave. The truth is, your transformation lies right on the other side of your telling of the truth, and your marriage should be the safest of places to do just that. Nobody should be better than your spouse to tell your secrets to.

2. Marriage has ups and downs

“My pride would not allow me to go to Mike for comfort. We were unable to talk about things like that. We each had our own roles, and we were playing them out separately. When tragedy hit, we didn’t know how to deal with it together.” —Shelly, In Charge Have you ever noticed how people tend to share their best pictures on social media? It’s sensible to post the best photos or the most exciting events of our lives, but marriage isn’t like that. Having gotten married, you now have a front-row seat to the stuff that your spouse doesn’t want to be posted to social media, and that’s exactly how it is meant to be! Let’s take working through financial hardship, for example. What if we looked at rightsizing debt as an opportunity to grow together as a couple instead of pointing fingers? Let’s learn to embrace the crazy rollercoaster ride called marriage, with all of its ups and downs.

3. Marriage is a covenant

“The biggest transformation occurred with the realization that our marriage is a covenant and not a contract; it is a lifelong commitment that should not be broken depending on how ‘happy’ we were.” —AC and Debi, Together Again We are a people of contracts. Think about your mobile phone plan for a moment. You know that in a year or so, you’re going to upgrade to a new device. You pay your bill, they provide you with service, and vice versa. If either party fails to uphold their end of the deal, the contract will be broken (and someone will pay for it). Marriage wasn’t intended to be viewed the same way. A healthy view of marriage sees it as a covenant, not a contract. Covenants are not dependent on actions as much as they are dependent on the promise of the two people involved. And most importantly, a covenant means you’re in it for the long haul, no matter what happens.

It’s Time for a Change

If you haven’t thought about these concepts for years or if they feel utterly foreign to you, know that you’re not alone. These are the types of topics that Re-Engage, a marriage enrichment program, covers with the couples who join their ranks. The program is designed for couples just like you and your spouse, who either need a reminder or a helping hand to get their marriage going in the right direction. If you feel your marriage needs a jumpstart, learn more and register for Re-Engage today.

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