Can I be honest? As Mark and I were approaching our June wedding almost 39 years ago, I thought everything would just kind of work out.
I mean, I knew there would be conflict but we loved each other and were excited to get married, so I figured our differences or frustrations would just work themselves out.
Maybe I should have been clued in that this was a misconception when we had our first conflict on our honeymoon at a campground in the Rocky Mountains. I stormed away crying and couldn’t believe Mark didn’t come chasing after me! After all, that’s what happens in the movies!
There have been a lot of surprises over the years. We’ve learned that we parent differently. We’ve learned that we each have emotional baggage we carried into our marriage. We’ve learned that our approaches to life can easily frustrate the other. We’ve learned about forgiveness, grace, patience, the value of listening, and most of all, we’ve learned that a healthy marriage takes work.
Maybe you can relate.
If many of us are honest, we approach our marriage the way I approached mine 38 years ago: We just think it’ll work out.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it does! But we can’t be naive because a lot of the time it doesn’t.
If we’re not intentional in our marriage, that’s when slow fades start taking place. Too many marriages experience hundreds, if not thousands, of really small moments of disconnection. If they aren’t addressed, one day we’ll find ourselves miles apart, confused about how we got there.
That’s what happened to Mark and I ten years ago, and we don’t want it to happen to you as well.
So today I want to talk about continuing education in marriage. We don’t usually put those words together, do we? Continuing education and marriage. However, we should put them together a whole lot more often. One of the most powerful ways to remain connected with your spouse is to learn together about each other, about relationships, about parenting, and the list goes on.
Here are 5 things that happen when we prioritize continuing education in our marriage:
- We learn together. The key word here is together. When we learn separately, we aren’t as easily able to have shared terminology and grow in the same direction.
- We laugh together. In too many marriages, we laughed a lot while we were dating, but somewhere along the way, we stopped having fun together. Believe it or not, continuing education can be pretty funny as you start reminiscing, identifying your relating patterns, and spending intentional time together.
- We understand ourselves and our spouse better. This happens through conversation, honesty, openness, and curiosity. Deepening our understanding of ourselves and one another is what builds that deep connection in a marriage.
- We learn new tools to apply in the day-to-day. Life can be pretty fast-moving. Too often as we’re going about our day-to-day, we jump back into whatever our default is. Continuing education helps us change what that default is.
- We improve our communication. Communication is a core foundation of a healthy marriage, and most of us aren’t all that great at it! Continuing education is a great way for us to learn new communication tools to apply in our marriage. As an example, Mark and I use and teach reflective listening after we learned about it and started using it in our relationship. And wow, that was a game changer! It didn’t feel natural at first, but it has helped us communicate more clearly and without assumption.
So what is continuing education?
There are quite a few ways we can learn together, but here are the primary ones Mark and I utilize in our own marriage:
- Books. I recently had a video make its rounds on TikTok. In it, Mark and I showed one of our favorite evening routines: Reading out loud together. Seriously! We’ve made this a habit most nights and it is a way for us to prioritize learning something and having short conversations about it each evening. (If you haven’t read No More Perfect Marriages yet, check it out here!)
- Bible. Read the Bible or a devotional together. (If you have the YouVersion Bible App, we have a devotional called 10 Days to a Better Marriage you can search for and do together!)
- Podcasts. If you’re driving somewhere, throw on a podcast about marriage, communication, or another topic you both find valuable, and then talk about it! Here’s one of our No More Perfect Podcast episodes on marriage.
- Sermons. Our favorite pastors to listen to right now are Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel. It’s not uncommon for us on an evening or two during the week to put on one of their sermons, listen to how they teach God’s Word, and then talk briefly about it. A service on Sunday morning accomplishes this as well, but you can choose one of your favorite pastors and do the same thing!
- Seminars. There are so many great marriage retreats and seminars out there. Mark and I offer two seminars/courses ourselves for couples: No More Perfect Marriages and Rebuilding Trust. We also offer three workshop classes: Redefining Romance, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and 10 Marriage Myths You Need To Stop Believing Today. Past attendees of No More Perfect Marriages, Ryan and Shefali said, “We are certain [this seminar] helped turn around our marriage and save us from an inevitable decline.”
A real marriage isn’t perfect. A real marriage is two people being perfected. And how are we perfected? By learning together and practicing what we learn!
I want to encourage you to prioritize continuing education in your marriage! Learn together. Laugh together. Grow together. And in turn, love more deeply.
Your marriage is worth the investment.
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