Build a home with hearts of love…and 29 tips for growing a lasting marriage


My beautiful daughter-in-love posted this photo a while ago, something she had liked from Pinterest.

As young marrieds, she and my first born son are full of plans and hopes and dreams coming true. Today they celebrate their second wedding anniversary and I wish them all the best for a lifelong love affair that rests securely in God’s hands.

God, the author of love and creator of marriage.

And my heart is full of love for the two of them yet it skips a beat as I remember being where they are now, just starting out.

My twentysomething heart was so wrapped up in itself and fiercely angry from events earlier in my life that I did not do what the scriptures advise.

The wise woman builds her house,
    but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly,
    but those who despise him are devious in their ways.
A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,

    but the lips of the wise protect them.
Proverbs 14:1-3


As a young bride I had very little wisdom.

My heart was not set on pleasing God or respecting a husband and protecting my marriage. My heart was primarily self-focused.

And I tore it all down, word by angry word.

{And while building or destroying a marriage takes two, I choose to share only my story and what God has taught me through the hard. And I rejoice with Him that after many dark years both parties involved repented of their sins and sought forgiveness which yielded peace for the family, but always with a touch of sadness over what was lost and how innocent children were hurt.}

I have lamented my foolishness on many occasions, but there is no going back. No do over. Just forgiveness and grace and moving on. And God’s grace is unbelievably generous and good.

Yet today, November 12, two years after my first born exchanged vows with his lovely bride by the side of the river that flows both ways, I need to share a story.

Matt and Tiff misty - Copy

With words of marital wisdom hard won and a wish and a prayer that Matthew and Tiffany and all the other young couples I love so much might learn from my poor choices.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 24:3-4

I penned these words of truth in calligraphy displayed in a stunning stained glass frame that had been a housewarming gift many years ago, when my sons were young and their dad still lived here.





A family of four, soon to be five, left the city in order to raise children in better surroundings. We moved into our first home and started fixing this old house to make it our own.

We worked diligently, but the dad and I didn’t put as much effort into our personal relationships with God or in our young marriage.

And while I recognized the power of the scripture verses, my heart was not yet submitted enough to God to live these words.

Our house came tumbling down and split smack in the middle and three little boys lost the chance to grow up in a home built with love flowing from God through a mom and a dad whose marriage rested on the strong foundation of the word.

God’s grace allowed me to go forward on my own and raise my sons in the church and in the word, but it would never be the same as if their parents’ marriage had been rock solid committed to Christ and each other, upholding the vows exchanged through better and worse, remaining one until death.

There has been plenty of fallout and bad choices made subsequent to divorce which further hurt all of our hearts. And we never would have made it through if not for the love and guidance of Jesus Christ.

So here are my suggestions to you, Matthew and Tiffany, and all other who are just starting out, having babies, raising young families…

Understand that the early years can be challenging as two are becoming one. Sacrifices must be made and self must ride in the back seat of your marriage.

Stand on your vows when things get tough, forever committed to holding the marriage as a precious, yet fragile gift in a world that seems to only want to do things the easy way. {But if a situation is abusive, you must get out and get safe.}

Dwell on the good in your spouse and in your marriage. Think on those things in them that are lovely, excellent and praiseworthy.

Practice gratitude and looking on the bright side, with faith that is the substance of things hoped for.

Read God’s word and pray together each morning as focusing first on God helps set the tone for the day.

Maintain and grow your own personal quiet time with the Lord daily.

Make it your aim to be at one in the spirit with your spouse and you will have peace.

Love each other all the time even when you don’t feel very loving towards your spouse. Love is a choice.

Generously make allowances for each others’ short comings with patience, extending grace.

Recognize that we all have heart hurts that can hurt our marriages and relationships. Marriage is a crucible that brings sin to the surface and reveals hurts sometimes decades old. A husband and wife are in the perfect place to help bring healing and freedom to the others’ heart.

Tell your spouse I LOVE YOU every single day.

Be the first one to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me?”

Be the first one to extend forgiveness.

Find at least one thing every 24 hours to be grateful for or to compliment your spouse about.

Always remember that sex is a delightful gift for husbands and wives to share…frequently.

Be your spouse’s really great lover.

Be kind, compassionate and respectful, submitting to each other in reverence to God, with the husband as the head of the family receiving due respect.

Always speak with kindness and gentleness, offering affection freely.

LISTEN more than speak.

Respect your differences and embrace your similarities, using both to make your marriage stronger. If one spouse thinks something is really great, try to understand.

It’s you and your spouse against the world, not you and someone else taking sides against your mate.

Keep your eyes only for her, bouncing them off another woman.

Keep your heart only for him, no seemingly harmless flirtations with another man.

Be each others’ best friend.

Laugh a lot and have fun, remembering to play.

Don’t be lazy in marriage. Be intentional, keeping the end in sight with outcomes of a healthy, godly family.

Be thankful for each day together, never parting or going to sleep angry, for life and love are fleeting, sometimes without warning.

Choose to love God above all and anything else, He loves you with crazy love that never ends.

Decide that you will live your life to please God first, purposing to be good, and everything else will fall into place one day at at time…



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17 thoughts on “Build a home with hearts of love…and 29 tips for growing a lasting marriage

  1. Such wonderful words of wisdom for anyone to latch on to. I was a foolish teen ager when I married, but my loving husband helped me to mature rather quickly. Watching my words has helped me many a time. Right now I am keeping quiet about something that is best left alone. Thank you for sharing with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” Congratulations to your son and his lovely bride.

  2. HI Sheila, I am following you from Playdates. You certainly have learned the wisdom of a good marriage. We have been married for 42 years – most have been really good, but the last 13 have been wonderful since I gave my life to the Lord. What a difference that makes – in seeing things besides myself.

  3. So much good stuff here!

    A few years ago God began doing a major work in my heart to help me get my Bible knowledge into my heart. He’s taught me that being “submissive” doesn’t mean I’m less valuable or a second class citizen in the marriage. It’s been so liberating for me and my husband for me to learn how to apply the Word of God to my heart.

    The one that made me really say “ouch” was about being the first to say “I’m sorry”. While I usually am first, it irks me at times. I’m a work in progress!

  4. So much wisdom learned the hard way. Sometimes, unfortunately, that is how some of us learn best. I was one of those in the early years too. My pastor said once that our spouse reaps the consequences of our wounds from our mothers and fathers. That has certainly been the case in my marriage. My favorite paragraph here is how our spouses are in the perfect place to bring healing and freedom to the other’s heart. So true. Learning grace and how to love one another like I Corinthians 13 has been a journey for me as a wife, mother and even as a Christian. Blessings to you! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    • Oh Rachael…I am on the same journey of learning to love the 1 Corinthians 13 way! And it can be hard putting others before self yet that is the only way. The Jesus way. And I love your pastor’s quote…it is so very true. But God! He is in the healing and setting free business of Love Love Love. So good to be loved by Him and each other. So glad to see you at Longings End. Looking forward to getting to know you better 🙂 Blessings back…xxxooo

  5. There is such wisdom here. I think I took the solidity of my marriage for granted for many years and expressed my anger whenever I felt justified or provoked to. Yet, going through an incredibly tough time showed me that what I thought was solid was actually fragile. I learnt that I need to stop using my words to chip away and to put my efforts into building. Love this post.

    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.



    • Thank you, Mel, for sharing your heart and struggles. It is so easy to forget we are all so fragile and in moments of anger or when we feel attacked we can get provoked. And I can still, after so many years, FORGET like the silly sheepling I am, and use my words all wrong. BUT GOD! He gently leads us and keeps moving us forward as our hearts keep surrendering the pain and the sin to Him. And I love how you put it…stop chipping away {before it’s all gone!} and put efforts into BUILDING. Thanks for the reminder, friend. Blessings to you 🙂

  6. These are beautiful tips! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been married six years now and like you, I didn’t know much about marriage when I got married… my parents split just before my wedding so my example was one that was falling apart. We’ve made some mistakes too in our relationship but we’re still together and I hope we’ll keep learning and growing in love! 🙂

    • I hope so too, Bonnie. Learning to love better together is a great way to live, even if it pinches our toes sometimes. Marriage is an amazing crucible that heats things up so we can see how cold our hearts sometimes are! Keep looking to Jesus. May God bless you and your hubby with a wonderful life together. Thanks so much for stopping by…