Bellows for a Struggling Marriage

This week I’m on an organizing kick, and it’s my husband’s love language…so I’m pulling this one out of the archives from last year.  It is no less true.  He’s still worth the fight.


Fires don’t just keep burning.  They must be tended, stoked, blown on, fought for.  And yes, we have fought through each one of these sixteen years.  We nearly gave up once but we came back strong with boxing gloves on.  We have chosen love over and over and now?  The drama has toned down, peace has settled and we have learned how to tend this fire.


1. When love dams up, small acts of kindness help the love to trickle again. 

Choose to make his favorite dinner, kiss him goodbye, look into his eyes with kindness, make love, tell him how much his work is appreciated.  Do the hard work until it’s not work anymore.


2. Do first things again.

Wear that perfume you wore when dating, listen to “your” music, go for that hike around the lake and be quiet in wonder…together.


3. Encourage his dreams.

Mom taught me this.  Early in Medical school in Genoa, Italy when Dad was still trying to learn Italian so he could read his text books, she put a sign on his door: Dr. Stephan Myers.  Always be on his team.

4. Become fluent in his love language.

Make sure your “I love you” speaks with clarity.  Take the test?


5. Write an honor list.

I learned this from the DNA of Relationships and a big thank you to Gary Smalley for the gift of that book.  If you find yourself struggling now, do read it.

How to write an honor list? Practice thanksgiving one line at a time.  Write a list of every little thing you appreciate about him.  Include all the ways he is made in the image of God. Meditate on the list until those truths come to mind before resentments have time to flood in.


6. Enjoy shoulder to shoulder time.

What does he enjoy doing?  Pick up the fly fishing rod, put on the waders and head to the stream. Remember: 10 to 2, 10 to 2, 10 to 2 and then lay the line out smooth.

7. Remember your story.

In our bedroom there is a scrapbook just for our marriage, a gift for our anniversary during an especially hard year.  Think two children under the age of two.  I made it for our story, full of our vows, our favorite camping trips, quotes and poetry. With the making of every page, it drew my heart back to his.  This book is my Ebenezer, my stone of remembrance, the way I’ve remembered how faithful God is through the hard times.


8. Pray. Pray. Pray.

Pray for his work.  Pray for your bond to grow, for it to be protected. Pray for his parenting.  Let the Holy Spirit transform him while you sit back and fight your frustrations out with the Lord, not him.  My friend Lynn Johnson says to go over his head…go to his “Boss.”


9. Set aside intentional time.

A daily check-in chat. A weekly mini-date.   A monthly outing with kids cozy at home with babysitters.  Our marriage is the greenhouse for these precious wee ones.  They need us to lay aside time…away from them.


10. Always be available.

Yup, you read that right.  I know sometimes we get sick, sometimes we are completely exhausted, and sometimes we stop for that monthly annoyance, but otherwise…fall easily into his arms.  It’s your glue.


11. Welcome him home with music.

Every night can be a celebration.  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.  The pasta is swirling in the boiling water, the kids run and hide waiting to be found by daddy and the music is ready for dancing.  I want his heart to always surge toward home.


Summer Gross


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