Mar 112020 1 Response

5 Ways to Experience Joy in Marriage

Marriage should be a source of joy. Not at every moment. Not even every day. But in the overarching descriptions of life, one consistent place of joy should be our relationship with our spouse. If it doesn’t feel joyful today, that’s okay. Just keep loving each other. But if you can’t remember it ever being joyful or if joy is a rare description of your relationship, something is wrong. You need professional help.

We can’t just will our way to more joy. If joy isn’t present, we need assistance in getting at the key issues to figure out what is holding us back. However, if some joy is present, we can increase it. We can make choices to build on the joy which is already present and to experience a more joyful relationship.

If your marriage is joyless, call a counselor.

If you experience some joy but want more, do these five things:

1. Learn to forgive and be forgiven. Few things kill joy as much as unforgiveness. For a marriage to thrive, a couple has to become skilled at both forgiving and being forgiven. This skill can only be learned as offenses are experienced, difficult conversations are had, and trust is built through dealing with tough issues. When unforgiveness is present, intimacy dwindles, truest diminishes and joy dies. If you want more joy in marriage consider ways to grow in forgiveness.

2. Intentionally turn to one another. We often rob ourselves of joy with our spouse because we do not turn to them first in times of trouble or success. Far too many spouses seek wisdom from friends, solace from other family members, and connection with co-workers rather than sharing news with each other. In so doing, we miss out on a good amount of joy that can be experienced inside the marriage. If couples would discipline themselves to consistently turn to one another first and then to others, their joy would increase. (See: One Habit that Starves Your Marriage)

3. Make time for rest and reflection. A tired heart often struggles to be a joyful heart. It can happen, but it is difficult. Joy is more likely to flow when a person is rested and when they have time to reflect on what has taken place. If we live in a continual state of weariness and constantly run at a pace where we cannot see what is going on around us, much less remember what has happened to us, we will not appreciate the blessings in our lives. Just as a good night’s sleep can often ease our worries, so a time of rest and reflection can give us the margin necessary to experience joy. Notice how the feeling of joy often increases on vacation. That’s not just because you are in a nice place. It is often the byproduct of a little rest and reflection.

4. See and Say the Good. Every day we are bombarded with bad news. Pandemics, layoffs, wars, and political divisiveness come at us in unyielding fashion. What isn’t so easily seen is the good which is around us–the kindness of a neighbor or the thoughtfulness of a friend. To have joy in our day, one must be intentional about seeing the good and then sharing that good with your spouse. While it is natural to quickly tell the bad news in order to get sympathy, be strategic about finding good things to share with your husband or wife. Find the good story, notice the kind gesture, point out the undeserved blessing and your experience of joy within your marriage will increase.

5. Do what Jesus taught. Ultimately, joy is a natural byproduct of obedience. Nothing kills our God-given joy like disobeying God. Followers of Jesus don’t just love what Jesus did for us, we also believe that life is found in what He taught us. As we intentionally seek to better understand the teachings of Jesus and to apply them to our lives (including our marriage), joy will naturally flow into our relationship. Many couples experience a less joyful marriage than they should simply because they have never consciously considered how to better follow Jesus as a couple. The teachings of Jesus are a pathway to joy. (Don’t know where to start regarding the teachings of Jesus and marriage, read Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love, and Last. It’s currently free on Amazon for those who have Amazon Prime.)

Marriage should be a source of joy in your life. It won’t be joy-filled every day, but every season should be characterized by a deep sense of goodness in the life that God has given you.

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