Recently I was honored to be asked to speak at a moms group at a friend’s church.   They have an awesome and active young moms group, extremely well organized with over 50 moms!   I’ve been doing a little bit more speaking lately, so I was feeling good about it until I heard the topic:  marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happily married.  But I’m no expert.  In fact, I’m such an imperfect wife that the thought of telling others how to do it better was beyond humbling.  We’re coming up on 13 years and I feel like I need about 13 more before I could fill 45 minutes with wisdom that came from my own head and home.  But I knew that at the season these moms are in (kids under 5, which I’m working my way out of, but am still very much in), we CRAVE practical wisdom from seasoned, godly women.  
So, I decided not to fill the time with wisdom from my own head.  I had plenty of things to share, but I needed more.  I went to a bunch of those seasoned, godly women and asked them to lay it on me.   I asked them to share with me some lessons they have learned in their years of marriage, which ranged from a couple years to over 40.  What they sent to me, in email after email, was more than just bullet points.  It was AMAZING.  I kept thinking of each one as a gem.  And you know what you get when you compile gem after gem?  You get TREASURE.   I can’t keep it to myself!

And can I tell you a theme I saw running through?  Die to self.  Even the most strong, confident and capable women need to learn to be selfless in a marriage for it to grow.  The act of surrendering what is best for me and the CHOICE of choosing what is best for US–that is where the sweetest and deepest joy can abound.

But there are so many gems that I divided them into 4 categories:  Relational, Sexual, Practical and Spiritual.  Today I’m only going to post the first two, and then in a couple days I’ll do part 2.   I pray you are as encouraged and empowered by these words of advice as I have been.  They are from imperfect wives who serve a perfect God, one who LONGS for our marriages to be strong and thriving.

-Be the first to laugh at yourself.   Do NOT take yourself too seriously.  Try not to be easily offended or overly sensitive.  Your mood affects the entire home.
-Practice saying “I’m sorry.”  Say it often for the little things, and then it won’t be so hard to say it for the bigger things.  Don’t be that person who physically can’t form the words.  That’s not attractive.
-Wives, your husband is not a woman.  He doesn’t communicate, think or act like a woman. Keeping this in mind will help your expectations, ultimately your appreciation for him.  
-Do not correct your husband in public. So what if the event in his story really happened on a Saturday instead of Sunday like he told it?  Don’t nag or demean him in front of others.  I’ve seen strong men’s dignity crumble in front of my eyes because of the way their wives treat them in front of others.  It’s UGLY!  Don’t be an ugly wife.
-Please, please do NOT berate or mock your husband, in front of him or behind his back. This is a real temptation when girlfriends are venting about their husbands.  
-Fix your own crap.  We all bring emotional baggage into our marriages.  Go to counseling, talk to a wise friend, whatever you need to do to deal with it.  You’ll find that his issues seem smaller and you will be more content.
– Make your kids believe their dad is the smartest, strongest, wisest daddy in the entire world. NEVER roll your eyes at Dad to make the kids laugh. Never put him down if front of the kids or anyone else for that matter. Don’t make him out to be the goofy, bumbling kind of dad the media loves to portray. 
-It is important that you agree before moving forward on big decisions.  If you struggle with the concept of submitting, pray for a joyfully submissive heart!  Yes, it goes against what the world tells us, but it is God’s plan for a better marriage.
-Dream together!
-Don’t forget your manners!  Even after years and years, when you are extremely comfortable around each other, it is still important to speak with kindness.  Saying please and thank you is important!  
We always work on keeping confidences. If I’m not sure if I could/should share something about him with others, I ask him.  Some things I thought were not a big deal to share, but I found they WERE to him. He does the same for me.
-Don’t wait for your spouse to “figure out” what is bothering you. Find a loving way to tell him and allow him the opportunity to work through it with you.  Wasting time brooding is just that…a waste. Help each other.
A guy wants to be pursued too.  Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that is the guy’s job.  Not so. Also as a mom I get so wrapped up in being a mom or keeping things together, that I forget to give my husband the attention that he deserves.  Figure out his love language beyond sex.  Text while he’s at work and tell him you love him or why.  Talk face to face for a few minutes when you can, even if that means turning off the TV, phone or computer. Don’t wear a hoodie and yoga pants everyday even if they are uber-comfy.  Buy lingerie or plan a date, make his favorite treat, etc.  Husbands want to see you making an effort.  They understand we are busy, so even the smallest gesture means a lot!
I’m not married to my father.  My poor husband had to endure my issues with my father for so many years.   Wives, get counseling for your issues before it messes with your marriage.
Never stop being thoughtful with your spouse. Take time to write him a note, plan a fun surprise date for him, make a special dinner you know he loves.  It’s a way to show him you love him. If you know something is weighing on him offer to help or if it’s something you can do jump in and surprise him by doing it yourself.  Yes, I’ve mowed the lawn and taken down Christmas lights.  
– Forgiveness & grace must be present in my attitude towards my husband. (I’m so prideful! I so want to be right. )
-Guard your family’s emotions, be completely trustworthy with vulnerabilities.  Know when something is really important to your spouse and handle that the way you want your important stuff to be handled.  Usually this involves sharing personal information, weaknesses or fears – we need to guard the information that is important to the others, even when it might seem silly to us.  
 This one is a real gem…are you ready?  Husbands do not like bathrobes worn all hours of the day.  🙂 It may sound silly, but taking time every once in a while to “dress up” for your husband means a lot to them.
-Decide your personal wills and won’ts.  Example: I won’t use a threat of divorce, violence or gossip to manipulate.  I will make my relationship with God a priority, the only one above my marriage.  I will protect my husband and stand with him.  I won’t cause others to think poorly of him.  I won’t leave in a huff, making him worry for hours.  I will express my fears, frustrations, desires and needs.  We will handle disagreements and disappointments with each other in private. 
Be sure you are honoring your husband when you speak about him to others. You should be his biggest fan so present his best to your friends….don’t fall into the trap of being a complaining wife.
-Support. Be your spouse’s number one fan. Tell and show them how much your support them. Support and understanding works WAY better than nagging.  Ephesians 5:22-23 “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.  The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.” 
-I’ve learned how important it is to accept my husband’s LOVE for me.  He loves me to the moon and back. I had to get over myself, understand how God loves me so I could receive my husband’s love in a healthy way.   We’ve come SO far, but it was my heart that changed, not my husbands.  
-Understand each other’s love language.  It is a HUGE help to know that!
I want to find out about things he is interested in.  When my husband was in law school, I took a class on “law for laymen.”  I wanted to understand more about his world.  Our conversation time was much more interesting. 
Be proud of your spouse!!  Tell him that you are proud of him.  Text, post-it note, it’s never too much.
 If you are grateful for him, or appreciate something about him, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell him. Even if it seems like a small thing.
– Choose the right time to discuss a problem issue. Don’t ambush him or bring it up when you both don’t have time to talk, or if one of you is exhausted. Make a date to talk when you are both rested and calm.
When you are disagreeing, always ask yourself if proving your opinion as the “right” one is worth the harm done to your relationship.
-Remember these words and use them often: I COULD BE WRONG.  Saying it in the midst of a disagreement will help you not dig a hole out of pride.
-Trust your spouse. There is really no point in with-holding parts of yourself, as if you can keep the pain of disappointment and hurt at bay. You are married to an imperfect person, they are going to fail, fall short, wound you – you knew this when you said “Yes.” Even still, trust that person. Love them completely and let them love you.
Make your relationship a place of refuge and safety. I want my husband to feel the freedom to fail, to make mistakes, to mess up, to be the person I don’t really want him to be – and to know he is still loved. To know that I’m not going to be another voice saying he should be something better or that he’s messed up. He has the rest of the world for that. Marriage is really sacred and God-like when it surpasses being just a relationship and becomes this sacred place of safety on earth for us. It is a gift. And this perspective helps me to choose my words and choose my silence in a way that builds him up. We are seeking the betterment of each other, not merely just raising a family together, although that’s really fun, too.”
-Sex matters.  It really, really does.
-Do whatever it takes to get your mind and body in the moment. Do it often. Repeat. 
-Try to understand that sex is one of the, if not THE main way that he feels connected to you and loved by you.
-Don’t make your husband feel guilty about wanting sex.  The alternative is not desirable.
-Just get laid, ladies.  Seriously.  Do it.  It is one of the keys to a long and happy marriage.
Have sex with your husband even if you’re tired, even if you have a headache, even if you just don’t want to. Do it out of obedience to God.  You’ll probably even like it after a few minutes!
HAVE SEX MOREHere is my brilliant, million dollar insight on the matter….wait for it….IT DOESN’T TAKE THAT LONG!  I mean really.  Nike got it right. Just do it.
Sex.  It gets better and better.  Really, I promise!  Our husbands need it.