I got to marry my husband at the young age of 17 (yes, I know that probably sounds crazy). These are some key points that have helped us establish a strong and healthy life together!
Center Your Marriage Around God
I have learned a marriage without faith has no foundation and is sadly more likely to fail than one centered around God. My husband and I always find ourselves struggling in our marriage when we start slipping from God's word and putting him on the back burner. Without God's guidance in your marriage, you will more than likely lead yourselves astray and blame one another when times get tough. Not to say even a good faithful Christian marriage doesn't struggle, because everyone struggles in life. That's how God makes you stronger; he will never put you in a situation in life that he doesn't know you can handle. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (these are words I live by).
Know Your Spouse’s Love Language
Whether it's affirmation, gifts, physical contact, Etc. everyone has a love language. In fact, during my husband and I's premarital counseling was the first time I had ever even heard of such thing. I remember thinking I don't have one of those, until our pastor had us answer what we felt was each other's. I had no problem pinpointing which one my husband was, but what was I? I remember when my husband said what he felt mine was, I thought to myself "Is that really mine? Is that really what I need in order to feel loved?" Sure enough, taking a step back, I realized he was right. If you don't know your partners love language, your marriage is more than likely never going to work. For example, if you are buying your spouse gifts and leaving small gestures around all the time but your marriage is struggling and they aren't seeming appreciative of what you do, chances are you've got their love language all wrong and they aren't happy. Maybe they just need a kiss more often or a thank you for all they do from time to time, rather than a box of chocolates with a cheesy card.
Always Practice Honesty
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Honesty is the key to a successful marriage. Period. End of story. A relationship littered with lies and deceit is bound to unravel at some point. Once you've broken someone who loves you's trust, it's incredibly hard to earn back. Trust broken takes years to be earned back and even then it's hard for the person hurt to overcome that voice of doubt in the back of their head. No one wants a relationship where they constantly feel doubtful of their partner whom they are supposed to be able to 100% depend on. It takes years and years to earn trust and seconds to lose it.
Always Respect One Another
Respect is such a powerful aspect in anyone's marriage. If you don't respect one another, you truly cannot function as a whole. Respect can range from simply completing a task your spouse has asked you to perform, understanding and enforcing a rule for your children because your spouse feels strongly about something they can or cannot do, or even something as simple as common courtesy. A house full of respect is a house full of love!
Function As One
Never should you ever play off one another. I think we have all been guilty of failing at this one at least once. You should never make decisions big nor small without running it by your spouse first. The second your children find out mom says no and dad says yes (or visa versa), they will use it! This can lead to a lot of unnecessary arguments that could have been easily resolved by simply taking two extra minutes to run it by your significant other first.
Encourage Each Other No Matter What
It's important to have goals in life and even more important is to have someone encourage you to reach them or push you to exceed them. If your partner has a goal they are truly thriving to reach, you're a team, it's now your goal to help them reach theirs. If your Mr. or Mrs. wants to start eating better, eat better with them. If they want to start exercising, exercise with them. If they want to further their education, help them study. You get the idea...
Ditch The Stubborn Act, Say Your Sorry First
I'm incredibly guilty of being the prideful and stubborn spouse that always has to be in the right even if (dare I admit) I'm not.. It has taken me years to figure out, it's better to be humble and serving to your husband or wife than to be right all the time. Even if you are, it's important to think of their feelings and understand life is far too short to argue. Say you're sorry and mean it...
Know The Balance Of Giving And Taking
My dad always taught me that there are givers and takers in life and from the very beginning I knew I was either drastically one or the other. I still haven't mastered the balance, but at least I'm trying. It's important to put others before yourself but it's also important to know when someone is just taking advantage of you. You should never let someone walk all over you as well as you shouldn't walk all over someone. You need a healthy balance of being a servant of the Lord and knowing what's best for yourself.
Of course, these are just some key factors that have helped my husband and I's marriage work but we have been married over two years now and I am blessed to say we are going strong.