12+ Ways to Make Your Marriage Fun Again

At breakfast, I looked across the table at him, giddy and delighted that he’s mine. It’s been 12 years now, and I’m completely head over heels for this 6’7″ guy I met as a college senior. I love that he can relax when I can’t. That he thinks of a hundred ideas for something when I ask him for one. That he molests kisses me when I’m trying to load the dishwasher. That he makes me laugh when my kids are having a blowout all around us. And that he loves me no matter how many times I make him read my blog or tell him all my hair-brained business ideas!

At one point, I almost threw away this life with him. After a new baby and two years of foster parenting our special needs preschoolers, the marriage was somewhere between complacent and downright hostile. We were both exhausted, our home had been turned upside-down, we were isolated from our friends, and we both handled it badly. He immersed himself in work. I banged my head against a wall since I felt like a single mom raising three kids in hell. I did lots of yelling. He did lots of sleeping. I finally packed my bags and prepared to leave.

And then one day, in the middle of a fight (in which I actually head-butted him!), we just stopped. Somehow we decided it was worth too much to throw it all away. But it couldn’t stay the way it was… we had to find a way to make it fun again.
With the help of counseling and wonderful friends who told us when we were being idiots to each other supported us, I can honestly say we’ve done that. So, in honor of our 12th anniversary this week, here’s a baker’s dozen of the most helpful things we’ve found to make marriage fun, despite life’s challenges:
  1. Remember that there is an enemy in your marriage, and your spouse is not him.
  2. Laugh. A lot. If you forget how, rent stand-up comedy DVD’s.
  3. Have a regular date night that only gets canceled if someone’s in the ER.
  4. Get counseling. Or coaching. Something that gives you a safe place to fight and heal.
  5. Go on double dates. It’s date night with added laughter and conversation variety!
  6. Spend the first 4 minutes every day cuddling together. Alone. This reminds everyone in the house your marriage is the priority.
  7. Have sex. Often. More than just when you “feel like it.” Schedule it if you have to!
  8. Every once in a while, ask each other four things: What does your spouse want you to do more of? Less of? Start doing? Stop doing? Never assume you know each other’s minds completely.
  9. For long-standing disagreements, find a way to take care of your needs. We fought for years about me wanting more help around the house. It wasn’t his forte, so we made adjustments and I hired a part-time sitter/home helper. It ended that resentment issue between us.
  10. Censor marital advice (i.e. ignore naysayers). Surround yourself with people who value your marriage as much as you do.
  11. Decide to stay. I packed my things more than once, and each time I just decided I’d stay one more week. If there’s no abuse, glue your feet to the floor if you have to. Just stay.
  12. The way you act in first three months of a big change isn’t indicative of the rest of your life together. So don’t freak out when you’re both funky around a new baby, new job, relocation, death or illness.
  13. Get away every once in a while for at least 24 hours. Priceline makes it really reasonable!

    What would you add to this list? 

    If your marriage is ok and you want it to be truly great, what do you need to get there? 

    I’d love to help you find answers through individual coaching, or point you in the direction of great resources to cultivate the marriage you really want. Email me at lauriewallin@gmail.com for more information.

    Be blessed!

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    1. says

      Just now saw this post, Laurie. Thanks for your honesty and insight. With two little yahoos underfoot we definitely have fallen into some bad habits and this was a good reminder so we can work on not letting our frustrating days turn into weeks and months.

    2. says

      Happy Anniversay and Great Post!
      We have been married 22yrs this year and have had many hairy times…even sepataing for a year. Now we are better than ever together and appreciate our marriage. What I realised whilst single for a year is that the grass really isnt greener on the other side.
      We are more considerate of eachothers feelings now.

    3. says

      What a great post! Marriage has been on my mind quite a bit lately – children sure do change things, many, many blessings, but can make me forget he's not just dad, he's my husband too!! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!!

      Thanks also for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts! God's put the issue of identity on my heart and I'm looking to do a weekly post so if you have a chance I'd love to hear more from you!! Blessings, Jill

    4. says

      Hi Laurie–

      I really admire your courage and honesty. It's sad how so many couples hids their pain, their rough patches, and near break-ups.

      I think you about covered it all. It takes so much strength and hard work to live with someone 24/7.

      I love #1…if only we could always remember that one.

      I recently read a stat which found double dates help couples feel less anxious, and more positive about their relationship. I guess a date for four is doubly beneficial??

      Thanks for normalizing the work and commitment that make a marriage work :).

      Here's to 12 more…

    5. says

      Thanks ladies! The sitter thing can really be an issue. Especially if your kids have special needs and swapping care with a friend isn't practical. I love how you've solved that issue, Lena!

      Michelle – I don't know about you, but I lose things a lot that I bookmark. I don't even think to look at them again even if I really liked what was in there. Evernote is a free program online that you can download to keep all that stuff organized. I'm loving that system myself!

      Have fun with those date nights, everyone!

    6. says

      Great advice! I should bookmark this and try out an idea every once in a while.
      Mostly we're pretty happy, but I think we take each other for granted.

    7. says

      Amanda, we recently did the same thing. We decided that since we can't find anyone to watch our kids, we will instead have date night at home. We get the kids to bed and then often eat dinner together, watch a movie or just sit together. We talk, spend time holding hands, etc. All of those things we can't do with the 4 munchkins going crazy around the house. It has really made a big improvement in our relationship.

    8. says

      I think this is all great advice. I've noticed we're getting kinda funky again since we don't have a sitter anymore. I think that has been our biggest obstacle – finding good babysitting for our boys so we can go out since we're nowhere near family. I've recently decided if nothing else, I'm scheduling date night at the dining room table until we find someone so we can go out alone.

    9. says

      Love these ideas! Also, love your courage and strength to stay when life was hairy. It's hard when we are being attacked by all sides and forgetting to give time to our marriage. I know so very well. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!