The Heart is a Muscle: Strengthening Your Marriage

Today is a special day for me, as it marks 6 years of dating the super cute guy who would eventually become my husband and best friend. I had no idea then just how much he would radically change me and my life for the better. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about our relationship and to reveal what I believe are the essentials of a happy marriage. There is an abundance of articles that discuss the challenges of marriage, that warn of the inevitable fights and nights on the couch. The positive connotation of the word “marriage” seems to be crumbling in the media today. Contrary to popular opinion, I truly believe that there are marriages where no one shouts, where no one ever feels the need to be sentenced to the couch, and where you more than love, but truly like each other every day, because I am experiencing one myself. If it’s it not broken, don’t fix it; however, it is broken in society’s eyes, and I am determined to fix their eyes rather than discuss all the ways that it is broken.

As I sit here righting this blog on a sunny Sunday morning, I can’t help but think how proud I am of how much the two of us have accomplished both as a couple and as individuals. Since that sunny spring day back in 2012 when we were crowded in a church bus trying to figure out if we were “official” over the hustle and bustle of our fellow sweaty peers, we have conquered going to prom, getting married, graduating high school and college (Noah completes his degree this week!), and buying our first home. We are not the same two blissful kids that we were back in times before we even had driver’s licenses. Our lives have intertwined in the most beautiful and unique ways, twisting and turning, growing and maturing, and budding and blooming to make us the people that we are today.

We both fell more in love with each other, but we also fell more in love with our passions. As married people, our hearts are not meant to be solely occupied by the love for our spouses. The heart, both figuratively and literally, is a muscle. To grow, it must be stretched, pushed a little out of its comfort zone, and amply fed. For example, me getting more passionate about fitness and healthy living does not diminish my ability to cherish my husband. Rather, the more I learn, the more I want to use that knowledge to fuel my mind and body to be able to spend more happy, healthy years with him. As the capacity for love expands in all areas of life, the heart responds. Not only am I able to pour more into my passions, but I am also able to strengthen my relationship with my Noah.

Similarly, the passions that challenge each partner don’t have to be the same. Personally, I don’t ever see myself as a gamer, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate that my husband finds joy when he plays video games. Honestly, I don’t find hearing about the ins and outs of a specific match the most intellectually appealing, but I usually find myself asking about them anyway. Why would I ask about something that I don’t understand? The answer is simple; I love the way his voice picks up and gets excited to share something that he cares about. It brings me joy to see him have joy. I believe unconditional respect for all aspects of your spouse, both their personality and their interests, is crucial to having a happy marriage.

Your spouse should be your greatest cheerleader, always rooting for you and being their to catch you when you fall. Sometimes, being trustworthy requires a little faith in and of itself. For example, I happen to have an adventurous husband with a wonderfully youthful spirit. As he graduates this week from college with a degree in computer science, he has dreams of being a published creative writer and not of working at a desk as a computer programmer. Does the idea of not having a stable income scare me? Yes. Will it be hard for him to breakthrough as a writer? Yes. Will I support him and fight for his dream with him? Absolutely. If I don’t believe in him, how can I expect other people to believe? To be the cheerleader that he can have faith will catch him, I have to have faith in him. Regardless if I had never read his work, I would’ve supported him. That being said, his scripts and stories are truly enticing and I feel inspired when reading his concept work. He is able to capture stories and convey details through his words in a way that I cannot.

“If I don’t believe in him, how can I expect other people to believe?”

Overall, I have found that a happy marriage both requires and promotes a heart that is committed to strengthening its ability to love and to love deeply. Give your partner the freedom to be exactly who they are. Trust that they love you and allow them to love their passions. Respect the passions that they do and should have. Have faith in your spouse and help them reach their potential. The heart is a muscle: give it a push, feed it some love, and watch it grow.

Photo Credit: Photography by Sarah Mae
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