“Are you on FIRE for marriage? We are.” Catchy, right? My husband and I always lead with this phrase during our interviews. But what does it really mean? And maybe even more importantly, if we’re on FIRE for marriage, how do we stay there during the challenging times?
Being “on FIRE” for marriage is a very personal thing. When we ask couples what it means, we get a variety of responses. Some say, “it means I really love my spouse and I want the world to know.” Others say, “it means my marriage is a priority and I’ll do anything to make it work.” Or, “it means I’m an ambassador for marriage.” The beauty of our catchphrase is it means all these things. It can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be. So long as you celebrate marriage, you too can say, “I’m on FIRE for marriage.”
That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but how the heck do you stay there? There probably isn’t a couple out there that hasn’t experienced the highs of being married. Just think back to your wedding day. Like most couples, you were probably overwhelmed with emotion and love. Marrying the one person you believe you can’t live without is an AMAZING feeling. But what happens when the novelty of being married wears off? What happens when you’re hit with your first “tsunami” of disagreements that for an instant sends you emotionally and mentally running for the hills? What happens when the person you thought you knew so well, makes a 180-degree turn, leaving you feeling as if you married a stranger. Not feeling so “on FIRE” then, are we?
Never fear, there’s a way to remain on fire, even during the valleys of marriage. For us, the right mentality + a marital plan for success + extra love touches = a marriage that thrives during the peaks and valleys of marriage.
Right Mentality. Staying on fire for marriage is largely a mental exercise. If you want a marriage that ROCKS, the choices you make should work in tandem to make it a reality. Yes I love my husband more than almost anything, but that won’t guarantee us a successful marriage. We have to divorce-proof our marriage, and that really starts with our mentality. We mentally choose to be together for always. We mentally choose to put in the effort to make our marriage work, knowing that the fruits of our labor will exceed the effort in spades. We mentally choose to remove the “I” from our thoughts and words, replacing it with “we.” With these mental choices, my husband and I have put ourselves in the best position to move our marriage forward during difficult times. Now the only question is, how do we actually do that?
Marital Plan. A marital plan for success is key. It’s marriage 101, right? But you’d be surprised at how many couples navigate marriage flying by the seat of their pants, tackling issues with no rhyme or reason. Is it possible to have a ROCKIN marriage without a plan? I’m sure it is possible. But why take the chance? Marrying your spouse was one of the most important decisions you’ll make in life. Take the proper steps to ensure its longevity.
While every couple’s plan will be different, each should, at a minimum, address these five areas:
- Commitment – Are you and your spouse aligned in your commitment and dedication to your marriage? Is divorce an option?
- Effective Communication – Do you listen to understand or listen to respond? During an argument, do you communicate in ways that ensure your spouse receives your message? What are the typical barriers to communication and understanding in your marriage? Do you respect and value your spouse’s opinion?
- Conflict Resolution – How do you handle disagreements? Is it in the moment or after a time of reflection? What are your roles during conflict? What happens when you’re at an impasse? Is there an ultimate decision-maker when you can’t agree? How do you ensure the resolution moves your marriage forward?
- Financial Management – Have you and your spouse disclosed all income and expenses? How do you handle your finances? Do you have a budget? Is that budget practical? What are your individual roles in managing bills and discretionary spending?
- Intimacy – This includes emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy. Do you understand what your intimacy needs are? Do you understand your spouse’s? Is quality time together to cement, maintain, and deepen your connection with your spouse a priority?
I’ve just scratched the surface here. There are many more issues in each of these areas that require discussion. To implement a successful marital plan, you and your spouse must work together and have many open and honest discussions. Don’t reinvent the wheel here. There are a plethora of marriage-related resources out there to guide your discussions and help you implement a plan. For us, God is a huge part of our lives, so we made a commitment to implement a marital plan that would align with Christian principles. Christian-based marriage retreats and marriage-enrichment videos and CDs have been invaluable to us. Yes, it’s taken a lot of effort to develop our plan and frankly it’s still a work in progress, but there’s so much comfort in knowing that we can turn to and use our plan during difficult times. It truly is our guidebook. I can’t stress how critical it is for you to do the same.
Extra Love Touches. This last component, “the extra touches”, is the most fun in our view. It’s the whipped cream and cherry on top. We all know, or should know, what really gets our partner going, sending them into overdrive in the very best of ways. To have a marriage that not only works, but ROCKS, you need to put in those extra touches every now and then, and especially during a challenging time in your marriage. Surprise or treat your spouse with the things that you know will have them bouncing off the walls with excitement for you and your marriage.
So now I ask, “Are you STILL on FIRE for marriage?” We hope our strategies will help you answer with a resounding, “YES!”