“Loved him then, but 1,000 times more now."
Beautiful words spoken by Leigh Lowery — wife of Dr. Fred Lowery, retired minister of First Baptist Bossier and author of Covenant Marriage: Staying Together for Life. After more than four decades of marriage, Lowery offers wisdom and encouragement on how to create a great marriage.
“We believe becoming your spouse’s best friend is a golden key to keeping your marriage from becoming mundane,” Lowery says. “We’re travel mates, play mates, shopping mates, sex mates, and soul mates. We share our feelings, our fears, and our fantasies.”
Psychologist Matthias Mehl confirms the value of meaningful conversation. “People who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier," says Dr. Mehl, who published a study on the subject in 2010. We seek to find meaning in life and are driven to connect with others. When we engage in meaningful conversation with our spouse, we accomplish both, resulting in a stronger, happier relationship.
Gratitude also plays an important role in a great marriage. “Encouraging words really mean a lot,” says Lowery. “Tell your spouse how thankful you are for them and list the ways.”
For marriages that include kids, Lowery emphasizes the importance of making the marriage a priority over the kids. “Being too busy is a huge problem in marriage today.” She recommends taking a serious look at schedules to prioritize the most important, always leaving room for regular date nights. “You raise your kids to leave home…you want to have a great relationship when that day comes.”
Healthy conflict management is another key to a great marriage. Conflict isn’t necessarily bad, but simply a sign that something needs to change. Conflict turns bad, however, when one attacks the person instead of the problem. “It’s not the presence of conflict in your marriage that determines success or failure, but how you handle it,” says Lowery. It’s important to learn to fight fair and seek professional help, if necessary.
Lowery gives these additional tips for creating a great marriage:
- Always march at the head of your spouse’s parade
- Ask yourself: “What would it be like to be married to me?”
- Learn to be a good listener
- Recognize it’s the little things that put sizzle in a marriage
“Always try to see the best in the other person,” Lowery suggests. “Men and women are radically different but we can celebrate the differences and value each other, instead of trying to make the other person another version of ourselves.”
By Gayla Grace