Editor's note: This article was originally published on Rachel Wojo's blog. It has been republished here with permission.
If you've read our family's story, then you know that my husband and I were each married once before we married each other. I haven't written on marriage very often because to tell you the truth, I've thought that no one would want to read marital advice from a woman who is married for the second time. But after almost 14 incredible years of marriage to my husband, I'm beginning to realize that the two of us could write a book about "what we know now that we didn't know then."
Recently, my husband's nephew married a wonderful girl and our family enjoyed watching the two of them unite in marriage. The beautiful moments of the wedding in word, deed and environment led me to mentally acknowledge that every moment of their marriage won't be this perfect.
Regardless of the personality shifts or age changes or life circumstances, it's easy to think that the marital grass is greener on the other side of the fence. One of our wedding dinner table conversations last night pointed out the fact that if we look at marriages on social media, they can appear to be very perfect.
No one ever posts a photo of two people ignoring each other at the dinner table.
No one posts a photo of him sleeping on the couch or her curled up in the bathroom crying.
And so it's easy to look at our neighbors or Facebook friends or whomever and wish that our marriage was like theirs.
After talking to a friend about relationships recently, I realized that there are some questions you should ask yourself about married life when things aren't going the way you had anticipated - six questions to ask when married life seems tough.
Or when the marital grass on the other side of the fence is looking so much greener than your own.
1. Am I watering?
Have I been pouring into my marriage or sucking the life out of it? Without deposits of time to pour into a marriage, you can be sure it will dry up.
2. Am I fertilizing?
Have I taken the time to seasonally nourish my spouse? Spelled out plainly: Do I remember important dates in our relationship? Do I encourage my spouse's goals? Do I praise my spouse's achievements?
3. Am I pruning?
Sometimes we need to trim off a few dead ends to keep marriage fresh. When we've settled into habits that aren't appreciated by our spouse, then it's time to get rid of those habits.
4. Am I weeding?
If bitterness has taken root and crabgrass is overtaking the whole yard, no wonder the neighbor's grass is looking better. As my father-in-law prayed yesterday, "Lord, let us remember not to let the sun go down on our wrath but to forgive one another each day."
5. Am I seeding?
Those worn out places of marriage may need a little revitalizing! Do something new together. Try a new restaurant. Plan a weekend trip. Grow new areas of interest together! My hubby and I found running is a wonderful way to seed our marriage.
6. Do we need to seek professional advice?
How do we know when to seek marital counseling? When either one feels deeply that outside assistance is needed.
There are times when married life doesn't just seem tough, it is tough. But the questions above are ones that can be used to take a step back and determine if we are ready to be part of the solution.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. - Psalm 126:5