If marriage is a font, then ours is a Wingding. My husband Carey and I have tried being something more respectable, like Times New Roman or Courier, but alas, some couples are destined for weirdness.

Before you picture us as The Addams Family, let me assure you that we have a happy, loving marriage. Carey and I have been married for 19 wonderful years—and two more we don’t talk about. We’ve had our fair share of highs and lows, but whatever the circumstances, we’ve tried to have fun together and stand for, not against, each other. Besides the Lord’s grace, laughter has been a key ingredient in our union.

Maybe you’re just starting your matrimonial journey. You’re both full of hope and dreams, with the starry eyes to prove it. Perhaps you’ve been married for decades, and things are beginning to seem a bit…well, stale. Let me encourage you—whatever stage of marriage you’re in–to make each other your first priority (besides the Lord). Determine to be for and not against each other. And don’t forget to have fun along the way.

It takes some creativity and effort, but you can get your smile back…even if, right now, you can’t remember where you put it.

Rehearse a helpful phrase.

Marriage is a melding of two very different cultures. Even if you’ve spent a great deal of time together before getting married, you’ll still have to compromise and accept the ways your spouse is different from you.

Of course, you’ll eventually find new ways of doing things as a couple. But as you join your lives together, practice communicating…a lot. Talk about habits, quirks, traditions, and celebrations. Ask questions before judging or jumping to conclusions.

Also, be willing to compromise and change for the sake of unity. Jesus calls us to sacrifice our own desires and treat our spouse as we would want to be treated.

You might also implement a phrase that has often saved us from plummeting into all-out spousal warfare: “Your way is not worse or better than mine; it’s just different.”

Remember to Fight Fair

Speaking of warfare, becoming one flesh didn’t just magnify the blissful parts of being together; it also intensified our differences. He likes all the windows and blinds shut; I love to fling everything open and (sing it with me!) “Let the sunshine in…” That is just one of the hundreds of ways we’re different, because opposites attract.

In relationships, our differences can actually be part of our sanctification. Many times, if something is difficult, it’s that way for a reason. God wants to use your union, even with all its speed bumps, to make you both more like him.

One way God did this in our marriage was by helping us learn to fight fair. Even though we had been friends for years and were deeply in love, after we said “I do,” we fought—a lot. Our arguments were loud and abrasive, and they often left both of us emotionally wounded.

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Source: Crosswalk