How to Keep Your Marriage Strong Even When it Looks Healthy!

I’ve always been fascinated by “that couple” who seem genuinely happy in every situation in their marriage. The ones who constantly hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes at every opportunity. I wonder if they really have a healthy marriage. I wonder if they’ve ever had a real fight, or are even wired to fight at all. I know I am.

My husband and I have had more than our fair share of fights over the course of our 20-year marriage.

I’ll probably never be able to go home with that couple to see how things really go down in their home. To see if it’s all an act or if there’s genuine love holding them together. And if they really are that good.

Whatever the truth is, one thing’s for sure about ALL marriages – they require hard work. There’s not one single couple that’s immune to this fact, even “that” couple.

But enough about them. Lol

Two Enemies of a Healthy Marriage

One is much easier to spot and widely known. The other is much more subtle and unexpected. It will invade your marriage like a parasite – sucking the life out of it without you ever knowing until it’s too late.

The widely known enemy to marriage is selfishness. It’s not always easy to fight and overcome, but at least you know it when you see it.

The unexpected enemy – the one with the superb skill of the sneak attack – is complacency.

Just like selfishness, every marriage is vulnerable to the parasite of complacency if you don’t know how to guard yourself against it. But before we can effectively protect ourselves, we need to know what complacency really is.

What is Complacency?

Complacency is defined as a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some danger or defect.

When I read this definition it brings to mind someone laying in a hammock with their eyes closed thinking about how their life seems perfectly, perfect. While their enemy quietly makes their approach.

Complacency in your marriage may seem harmless – a lot less than selfishness. Right?

Let me tell you, it’s a lot more harmful because it works like a Trojan Horse. Once you let it in, it’s already done its damage. When you feel complacent, you have this overwhelming sense that you’ve arrived. You finally did it! You’re no longer “working at it.” You’ve become finally “that” couple.

This is exactly where my husband and I got to in our marriage. We fell in love in our teen years and quickly became inseparable. We got married very young and were never, ever apart. Outside of normal disagreements, we always enjoyed being together. We really considered ourselves best friends.

Then, drumroll, please … we started having kids. Nuf said there, right?!

It’s not to say our children messed up our marriage. But we fell for the trap of complacency and had no clue we were headed for danger.

Related: How to Relight the Fire in your Marriage

Looking for great books to help you strengthen your marriage? I highly recommend these books and authors:

Living in Our Quiet Comfort

We had the feeling we were “that good.” We didn’t need to take intentional date nights when our children were still little. After all, I just couldn’t hand over my angels to just ANYONE. So, my babies took precedence over my marriage.

And my rockstar husband said, “no problem”. He’s a good man who’s always trying to relieve my stress and make my life easier, so letting it ride seemed like the right to do.

We continued like this three kids later with less and less #TeamUs time. All the while, we rolled with it, feeling none the wiser about the whole thing.

What we didn’t see happening was the slipping away in our hearts. We went about each day in our quiet comfort totally unaware that we went from wishing we had more time together… to get used to our regular routine… to finally not caring so much about it.

Not in an “I don’t want to be married” kind of way. But in an “I forgot how good it used to be” kind of way.

It became easy to not have to work at anything. To just foolishly believe our healthy marriage was divorce-proof. Even though we took a solemn vow to stay committed to each other till death do us part, doesn’t mean we don’t equally have the responsibility to cultivate and nourish our marriage as well.

Now going back to “that couple.” The truth is, if their marriage is indeed the real deal than I’ve got shocking news for you – they’ve put in real work to get there. And more importantly… to stay there.

Related: What to do to Stop a Fight Quickly

3 Lies to Resist in Your Marriage

There are 3 lies that couples tend to believe that set them up for failure down the road. If you can recognize them early, you’ll be armed and ready when complacency tries to show up in your marriage.

Lie #1 Your marriage doesn’t require work

Maybe you want to replace the word work with another like nurture. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same. Every single marriage requires attention to keep it healthy and strong. The moment you think you’ve arrived; your strong marriage is in danger. Maybe not tomorrow, but later down the road.

Related: How to Win the Fight for Your Family in Hard Times

Lie #2 Date Nights Aren’t for Every Marriage

This is a lie that invaded my marriage. We felt the whole date night thing was kind of clique, so we didn’t take them seriously. What we failed to realize was it doesn’t matter what we label them – it only matters that we do them. Having one-on-one alone time on at least a weekly basis is a must for all marriages.

The point is, find something you both enjoy and do it together. It doesn’t have to be a “date” at all. Just be you.

Here are some wonderful love language date night ideas!

Lie #3 Putting the Kids First is OK While They’re Still Little

God created an order for families – God, Spouse, then children. Outside of the necessary taking care of your children, placing them before your spouse can have devastating consequences.

Your husband was there first and he’ll be there with you after they’re gone. If you’re struggling with this one, think of it like this; placing your marriage first will keep your marriage healthy. That’s something your children will be thankful for later. My parents divorced after I was already married with my own children. Simply put… I was devastated.

Your children would rather you take time apart from them if it means they don’t become yet another family torn apart by divorce.

Pray and ask God to show you any areas in your marriage that may have slipped or are vulnerable to complacency. Watch Him give you the wisdom to come back together and leave any trace of complacency behind.

Share your testimony of how you personally overcame a trial or challenge in your marriage in the comments below!

All marriages, even super healthy marriages need work and attention. Learn how even happy couples can end up in trouble and how to spot that trouble before it starts so your marriage can stand the test of time!Keeping Your Marriage Strong3 lies to stop believing in your marriage

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3 years ago

This is such a great read. Should remind me that I also have a partner. I’m guilty of making my kid my whole world.

3 years ago
Reply to  Wendy

So true! I find that even when I don’t feel like it, or I’m too exhausted to do anything for anyone beyond my kids – it always works out better for me when I put my husband first. When I fill him up, he instinctively does the same… just when I need it the most. Usually! 😉

3 years ago

These are good points. Selfishness and complacency are enemies of any kind of relationship, be it between friends, siblings, etc.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jazz

Yes, they are!

3 years ago

This is great advice. My husband and I haven’t had a date night in over 2 years because our children are very young. We are both feeling the pressure and need one ASAP.

3 years ago
Reply to  Stacy

I say, find a trusted baby-sitter, if you can, and have a date for at least a couple hours. And try not to fall asleep… I know how exhausting early parenthood is. Lol

I definitely agree with the date night topic. Being parents you forget how important it is to have time where it’s just the two of you. Great read!

3 years ago

Thanks for the comment Raquel! Yes, I think couples tend to overthink date nights which makes them procrastinate on doing them in the first place. Just make one on one time a priority and do things (no matter how casual) you enjoy and you have a Date! lol

3 years ago

This is a great read. Marriage is definitely a lot of work and not easy. It takes nurturing and patience to make it work. We should never forget that.

3 years ago
Reply to  Angie

Yes Angie, nurturing and a whole heaping pile of patience! lol

Oh my goodness, I know the feeling of seeing ‘that couple’. But you know what I’ve learned? Usually ‘that couple’ is so lovey-dovey because they’ve just come off a humongous fight. I can honestly say I don’t know a single real life couple that’s that way unless they’re desperately trying to repair something…or are newlyweds, lol! We’ve been married also for 16 years this year, and it IS hard!! Our dating/courtship period was anything but normal, so that may be partly to blame, but we’ve still put in the hard work. The complacency thing is a huge deal for us… Read more »

3 years ago

Thanks for sharing your heart Stella! You are NOT alone fore sure! I always tell people marriage is WORK. There is so much to consider like your schedules (travel) and what each person likes and doesn’t like. In that case, I try (though not always easy) to focus on the time spent over what we’re actually doing. For example, my husband is a sports fanatic and I’m… not. In the past, I didn’t try to get engaged with sports AT ALL. Even though he actually tried to get interested in the things I liked, that he didn’t. It took me… Read more »

3 years ago

This is so true. My husband and I are starting our family soon hopefully and we have already made a pact that we have time outside the home to ourselves no less than once a week. It’s so important.

3 years ago

Congrats Leigh on starting to expand your family! Knowing your “connection plan” upfront before the kids come along is such a smart thing to do! All the best to your family!

3 years ago

The hubby and I have always dated one another. When the kids were little it was short coffee dates, when they got older a dinner out and then older gain it changed again. We are not going on our 25th wedding anniversary and it is working for us.

3 years ago
Reply to  Elise Ho

Wow 25 years! That’s wonderful. And I totally agree that our dates should completely flow with the season we’re in. Having your spouse on board with that also helps to keep the intimacy strong.

3 years ago

I feel like some of the things you said happen to my sister and I too. I tent to be complacent too muc

3 years ago
Reply to  Mimi

Yes, complacency is such a tricky thing and can happen in any area of our life. But in marriage it can lead to a lot unnecessary trouble down the road.

3 years ago

Really wish I had read your post some years ago, it could have saved me heartache and dissapointment.

3 years ago
Reply to  roamy

Hey Roamy! Sorry to hear you’ve experienced a tough time. I really hope things are better now! Without trying to sounds clique, everyday is a new opportunity to start fresh in either the same relationship or maybe a new one. I hope things are moving in a positive direction for you now. 🙂

3 years ago

Such an amazing post with so much truth. Life can get so busy with kids etc, but it really is so important to “make” that time with our spouse on a regular basis. Thank you for sharing this wonderful reminder.

3 years ago

Thanks Annette! It’s all my pleasure. I love just sharing a peak into my own struggles and shortcomings in the hopes it will help someone else.And I’m still working in this area everyday… cause every day changes! lol

Complacency is the big one for me because it’s SO sneaky and easy to fall into. Selfishness can be hard sometimes too, but it’s easier to spot and then deal with.

3 years ago

Yes, complacency and selfishness are both sneaky. I’ve written about them both a few times because they’ve popped up in my life over and over and I keep finding new ways to spot them and overcome them. But it’s a daily battle none the less!

3 years ago

This is a great reminder! Selfishness is human nature, we need to constantly fight that behavior for the sake of our family

3 years ago
Reply to  Kimberly

Yes! You and me both. lol

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