Home marriage How to Have a Happier Marriage

How to Have a Happier Marriage

by Kelly Crawford

A man approaching retirement called the retirement office to inquire about his pension. Afterward, he was asked if his wife worked.

“She’s worked all her life making me happy”, he replied. “Yes sir, but has she earned money to receive her pension?” “When we got married we agreed on an arrangement”, he said. “I would earn the living, and she would make the living worthwhile”.

“Make the living worthwhile.”

Have we forgotten the very essence of that?  Have we forgotten to live for someone else, that doing so IS what makes a living worthwhile?

The Lord has really been working in my heart a lot lately about my role as a wife.  If I could sum up what I believe makes a happy, time-proof marriage, it would be this:

Live to make your spouse’s life better.

Our natural response may be,“Why should I do that when he doesn’t do that for me?”

And we are so unwilling to take our eyes off of his faults, look at our own shortcomings, and realize we may be a large part of the reason he doesn’t respond to us the way we think he should.

My duty as a wife, and more importantly as a Christian is to be a “living sacrifice”, not as concerned with what I’m getting, than what I can give.

Do you want a joyful home?  Be joyful.

Do you want a tender husband?  Be tender.

Work on becoming the woman with whom your husband feels MOST secure–even with his greatest weaknesses (boy that’s a hard one!)

He has the whole world to make him feel inadequate, tired, unaccomplished or weak.

If he has one place to go, one person who will guard his reputation, his feelings, his manhood, one person who will make his living worthwhile, that man will run to that place…to that person…he will cherish it and will never leave.

 Note: This morning, ironically, after I reposted this article, I ran across the article, Tolkien Speaks: The Secret to a Happy Marriage, in which is written: “What did Tolkien have that many marriages do not? How did he make it work? The answer is simple: He understood that real love involves self-denial.”

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Mrs. Santos January 29, 2012 - 10:28 pm

I’ve asked that question more than a thousand times – and not just about my husband. “Why should I do that when he doesn’t do that for me?” But that is the wrong question. Why would God give His life for ME? is the question. Jesus doesn’t complain about his bride. We are adulterers, selfish and grumblers, yet He gives us every spiritual blessing.

We can live to make someone else’s life better out of thankfulness for what God, through Jesus has done for us. Praise God.

Keri January 29, 2012 - 10:57 pm

Many years ago…My husband would come home from work at the end of the day and I would feel like..”I’ve had these kids all day–now it’s you’re turn”.Boy..did I have that wrong.It took me awhile to realize it.We have been married nearly 30 yrs.now and I have learned alot with the Lord’s help and guidance.I’m really thankful for many of the Christian couples we were able to look up to and learn from their examples.It is really so true that we are to love and serve our husbands also,not just our children.Yes Kelly..if we want a tender husband,we need to be tender or a joyful one,to be joyful.One of the things I really tried to do to get ready for him to come home at the end of the day would be to have the things done around the house that I knew he would try to do himself if he saw they needed to be done.That’s where the kids came in and helped..like mowing the grass..taking garbage out etc..It makes a difference.

Mrs. S January 29, 2012 - 11:54 pm

That is a wonderful story 🙂

Jarnette @ Seasons of Life January 30, 2012 - 10:35 am

Kelly ~

Thank you for words timely inspired by the Lord. I don’t know about other wives, but I know that I have fallen into the trap of “if he does, I will”…”why should I be…, if he isn’t…”. It is a bad attitude and bad attitudes do not bear good fruit. How often has a simple act of kindness changed that? Our “me” focus should be a “me” focus of our SINFULNESS…our SHORTCOMINGS…our SAD-Heart Condition. Only in this light, can we be humbled to serve as Christ served.

Removing the PLANK from our own eye instead of the speck from our husband’s…

May He continue to refine all of us to be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and sister ~

Jarnette @ Seasons of Life

Word Warrior January 30, 2012 - 1:12 pm

I think we all struggle with it. Dying to self is not easy, but the benefits are great!

Links I liked | Owlhaven January 30, 2012 - 1:52 pm

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kimberly January 30, 2012 - 2:22 pm

I read something a few years back, (it could have been here)about a woman who got so irritated by her husband who always leaving his dirty socks lying around. “If he would only, then I would…”. Well, he passed away. Then how she wished for the dirty socks to be there to pick up. I think when I read that, tears in my eyes, I puposed in my heart to try to serve my husband without griping. I fail, a lot. But I recognize it and ask for forgiveness. Now I have joy that God has blessed me a husband that takes such great care of our family and works so hard for us. How can I bless him?! Thank you for the wonderful post.

6 arrows January 30, 2012 - 3:21 pm

Reading this post reminds me of how thankful I am to have a husband like the one I do. He is so hard-working, devoted to me and our family, and longsuffering in the truest sense of the word, so entirely willing to overlook my many faults, and love and serve me anyway. Of course he’s not perfect (and he would be the first to admit that), but the times I get irritated with him are due to my own impatience more than to anything in his character. He’s not perfect, but he’s the perfect man for me, a true gift from God, if I would just always desire to live in the light of that reality!

I too, Kelly, have been thinking a lot lately about my role as a wife, especially as I see the widowers of my friends who died last year as they are now walking through this season of their lives, raising their children without their helpmeets at their sides. My husband still has his helpmeet…what am I doing to make his life better? Thank you for your bold-print “Live to make your spouse’s life better.” That really does sum it up! And in response to your statement “Our natural response may be…“why should I do that when he doesn’t do that for me?””, I could amend it in my case to say “why SHOULDN’T I do that when he DOES do that for me?!” He does live to make my life easier; I certainly could do better showing my love for him by reciprocating.

Thank you for your post, Kelly…God has been so good to me with the man he gave me for a husband, and it’s always a good time to reflect on that 😉

Kelly L February 3, 2012 - 11:00 am

6 arrows, your last question is mine too. My husband was the one who taught me to love and serve and overlook. His patience with me is what taught me to give him mercy. It was not always this good, but it really changed when we both decided to surrender 100% to Christ. Christ makes all the difference in the world!

savedbygrace January 30, 2012 - 10:10 pm

Kelly, sometimes you are so very timely. I imagine that we all struggle with loving and honoring our spouses. Why is that? Men are so very simple to please it’s us gals that are difficult – come on you all know its true. 🙂

My husband is a wonderful man and I love him dearly. One thing that would make his afternoon homecoming would be to walk in and have me dressed nicely. He already comes home to hugs and kisses from all of us but that one thing – a pretty skirt and blouse- would make him so happy! Oh, and let’s not forget the heels – for him the higher the better, you know the ones that make you feel like your going to break your neck. :-)Yet I consistently talk myself out of it: I’m too tired, busy etc.. Why is it so difficult to make his life ours and pour our life out like a drink offering like Paul speaks of? Maybe it’s my selfish nature.

I’m feeling garbled and nonsensical so I’ll leave it at that. But thank you for taking the time to post these thoughts.

Kristen January 31, 2012 - 11:43 pm

Proverbs 31:11-12 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

Everyone focuses so much on what the “Proverbs 31 Woman” does at the end of this chapter, but in my opinion, these two verses encapsulate what I should look like as a wife to my husband.
Thanks for a great post, Kelly!

Clare February 1, 2012 - 4:29 am

WOW! That’s a lot of wisdom packed into one short post! Lots of good stuff to meditate on…

Elizabeth K. February 1, 2012 - 8:11 am

I know that the Biblical view of a marriage/family relationship is for the wife to stay at home with the children and the husband to have the job that makes the money. I know that this is the BEST way, the way that both the man and woman feel the most fulfilled. However, this is not my situation. I have had the full-time job for the past 6 years, because my husband has not been able to find one. We have a conviction to not send the little ones to daycare and also to homeschool the older ones. So, my husband is a stay-at-home, homeschooling father. You can imagine that this is hard for my husband at times, and what a minority he is in our Christian community. I tell you this only to let you know that your blog is meaningful to me, a wife who is not in the “typical” situation.

This part of your post was the most encouraging for me, “If he has one place to go, one person who will guard his reputation, his feelings, his manhood, one person who will make his living worthwhile, that man will run to that place…to that person…he will cherish it and will never leave.”

Thanks for writing these great posts and encouraging people like me!

Word Warrior February 1, 2012 - 9:09 am

I have loved reading all your comments…I love the encouragement YOU all are to me as we share and labor in this life together. Our family has been battling the stomach virus all week and it is beginning to really wear…throwing up, cleaning up, third night of very little sleep…this is where that “marital happiness” really gets put to the test. Just pray I would not fail.

6 arrows February 1, 2012 - 9:24 am

Praying that all of you will feel the loving arms of the Great Physician of Soul and Body around you as He nurtures and strengthens you in every way.

jen in AL February 1, 2012 - 9:32 am

thank you for this great post! beautifully written! praying you all get better soon! lots of love and hugs, jen

April February 1, 2012 - 9:39 am

I came here this morning specifically looking for words of encouragement. My dh prefers that I work to help him with our finances. I am blesed to be able to do daycare from home so that I am also able to homeschool our children. But it is HARD and I struggle daily! And what makes it even harder is when there is extra money in the budget and he wants to spend it on TOYS! And then I think, “Why do I work so hard, and split myself in so many different directions so that he can add one more toy to the garage.” I feel like my kids are missing out, that our marriage suffers, etc., all in the name of material wealth. So I pray. And pray some more. I’ll be chewing on this post throughout the day. 🙂

Kristen February 2, 2012 - 9:50 am

This was a HUGE blessing to me! Worthwile…. 🙂 This will stick with me for forever.

PlainJane February 2, 2012 - 10:50 pm

Thank you! You are so right. I learned that lesson the hard way (by being a dominating, complaining wife) at the beginning. It took my husband being separated from me by an unexpected deployment before I gave up control and allowed God to change me. Graciously, He also saw fit to change my husband’s heart and now we have an amazing marriage — ten years this year!

Choosing to obey God by submitting to my husband was difficult, however, I can honestly say that it is also one of the most LIBERATING things I have ever done. Once I stopped living for myself and instead focused on serving my husband and family, I found more satisfaction than I had ever known.

Kelly L February 3, 2012 - 11:07 am

Really good, convicting post. I just found myself getting irritated with my dh because I have been taking the trash cans in and “its only 1 of the 2 jobs that is his…whah!” Got myself all good and riled up over something DUMB. The sin was still mine, but reading this today, I am glad I forgot to tell him all about it. Praise God that He helps keep my mouth shut!
My discipline to myself will be to take the cans in as much as I can. Dying to self is never easy, but God used this post helped me realize one more way I was being all about me. Thanks.

Julie February 5, 2012 - 7:49 pm

While I agree wholeheartedly with the idea behind your post that we need to make life worth living for our husbands and our children, it is not necessarily true that by doing this our husbands will run to us and cherish us. Just as we can only live out the self sacrifice needed to put aside us for our our husband through the power of Jesus, he can only cherish us through the power of Jesus. I am separated from my husband right now because he chose to drink, lie, and steal despite my attempts to honor him, our friends and elder’s attempts to bring him to restoration, and many years of prayer. Still, I am attempting to make my husband’s life worth living through letters and gift yet know that for now this is the most healthy position for me and my children. So, I want to reach out to each woman who feels that no matter how much she is trying her husband will never cherish her. Refocus the object of your desire from being cherished by your husband to being cherished by your Savior. When that is my focus, I find it not so disappointing or frustrating to feel un-cherished and abandoned by my husband.

Ruth February 7, 2012 - 12:10 am

Thank you, Kelly.

Mrs.Hearts February 7, 2012 - 10:33 pm

Lovely post. I have linked to it at my blog.


Angel May 23, 2012 - 7:17 am

Wow, how i feel i have missed a lot from you my dear, i didn’t know about this website until today when a friend posted some thing on marriage, my, i felt so touched.Am not yet married, but praying for that gift from God the Father, thanks a lot for this inspirational message, what a perfect timing.God bless.

Florence November 22, 2013 - 2:26 am

I just feel i have been missing alot.Thanks for your guiding words & i believe this will help me/us to keep my/our marriages moving & happy.


Adina @ royal blessings July 22, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart. I find it all very valuable and encouraging.

Smitti July 22, 2015 - 2:16 pm

Kelly, Thank you for re-posting this! It’s a nice reminder…. well… maybe a little painful, but in a good way. 😉 My attitude toward my dh has been ‘poor’ lately. I needed this little ‘kick in the pants’!
I’m also cracking up at the comments. I was shocked to see so many so soon after you posted (how controversial could this topic possibly be?!?) – and then I checked the dates. And then I read the comments… Wow. I never realized you used to get so many random remarks (with very little pertaining to the actual subject)! Thanks for ALL your work blogging – especially the behind-the-scenes stuff! 🙂

Kelly Crawford July 22, 2015 - 2:36 pm

Thank you, Smitti, for pointing out those spam comments. For a while, my spam filter didn’t do its job very well, nor was I being notified of many of the comments, so I guess this post is one where they landed.

6 arrows July 22, 2015 - 2:39 pm

How did you know I needed to reread this post this week? 😉

BrightNShiny July 22, 2015 - 5:24 pm

Whilst I understand your good intention with this article, and others like it, please remember that there are some husbands who simply don’t or won’t respond to their wife’s love and devotion, however hard she tries and for however long. I’ve been married to a man for seventeen years and have nine children. The Lord showed me early on in my walk with Him that I was to cheerfully submit to my husband and love him unconditionally. However, my husband has chosen to respond with cruelty to our children and myself, actually taking advantage of the fact that he knows I fear the Lord and want to please both God and him. There are many Christian women who are married to men who, for whatever reason, are not doing their part in the marriage, even abusing their wives and children, if not physically, emotionally, and to be really frank, I have read so many of these types of articles and could probably write a stack of them myself about what the bible teaches about how to be a Godly wife. The reality, of course, is that “How to Have a Happier Marriage” is for both marriage partners to do what God called them to do in Ephesians 5, wholeheartedly living it out on a daily basis.

Ramona July 24, 2015 - 12:32 am

I agree that these types of articles imply that there is a cut and dried answer to marital problems, a one-size-fit-all solution. I wish there were more articles addressing more complex marital problems like yours. However, that would mean admitting that some spouses will NOT respond to love, submission and caring. Not many are willing to admit that. Instead, comments like yours are met with silence.

If you or your children are being treated cruelly, I would encourage you to consider separation. You dont’ deserve that.

Kelly Crawford July 24, 2015 - 8:35 am

You are not Ramona, you’re a troll. (“Guest”) And I’ll be blocking you again. And the only reason I’m responding to you is to say, her comment was not met with silence. (Please stop acting like an idiot.) I don’t get every comment in my inbox, and often (especially when I’m super busy like this week), I don’t see a comment. In this case, she had not even commented the last time I checked, and I am just checking for the first time today. Go away. You don’t add anything here.

6 arrows July 24, 2015 - 11:28 am


You know full well that there are Christian women bloggers who write extensively about and for women in abusive marriages, but you and your ilk hound those bloggers, too.

Your problem is with Jesus Christ, and, by extension, those who stand firmly with Christ. When you attack the followers of Jesus, you are persecuting Christ Himself. Doesn’t matter how subtle your jabs are. You might be able to fool some people into thinking you care about Christian women in abusive marriages, but your overarching purpose here is to cause dissension among the Body of Christ.

Whether you acknowledge the fact or not, you will personally stand before the Judge of the Universe some day and answer for the way you persecuted these representatives of Christ here on earth, and, more significantly, how you persecuted Jesus Himself through your attitudes and actions. If the spiritual blinders have not fallen from your eyes by that time, it will not be a pretty sight. There will be no more glee at your attempts to denigrate the Body.

Go and make yourself useful somewhere there is a need, and stay far from the recipients of your hatred.

6 arrows July 24, 2015 - 1:44 pm

BTW, that last warning of mine, Guest, to “stay far from the recipients of your hatred,” was intended for your, and any other reader-trolls’, good. As much as you think you’re having fun here, satan is having way more fun with you than you have with those you despise. He is prowling around, and is far more subtle than you are. He is using you for his destructive purposes. The fun will end, and when it does, I pray you are not in his camp.

Kelly Crawford July 24, 2015 - 8:43 am


I am so, so sorry for your situation. Yes, I’m also well familiar with marriages where husbands have chosen to abdicate their responsibility to love their wives. However, that doesn’t make an article like this wrong. And because I speak to women, and it is women who primarily read here, it would be pointless to write to men about their roles. That is a job for someone else. I would strongly suggest you go to your church leaders for help and have them hold your husband accountable if you are experiencing abuse. There is a biblical recourse for women in abusive situations. Separation might be a viable option either temporarily, until he shows repentance, or permanently, if he does not.

The Retro Homemaker July 23, 2015 - 2:25 pm

Love this post! When I got married, I immigrated to my husband’s country so I couldn’t work for a while. Then we moved to my country. I worked when I was single and a little bit when my husband was unemployed. I’ve had many jobs in fact and even gone to University, yet everybody gives me a hard time for being a married homemaker right now. Doctors, family members, friends put me down for “not working”. They have no idea what I do for my husband every day! It is so frustrating.

D. July 23, 2015 - 7:50 pm

I’m so grateful that Jesus Christ did not have the same attitude towards me that I often have towards my husband/children. He laid down His rights and came to serve, not to be served.

I’m mulling over this article, remembering how often I tell my children that it is more blessed to give than to receive (and I believe this can apply to giving material gifts as well as “giving” to serve), yet inwardly I am grumbling about the “load” I carry as a stay at home mom. In and of ourselves, we cannot serve our spouses – only as we yield to God and recognize our utter inability to fulfill the commands He has given.

Myself, along with many wives I am sure, need to be reminded not to grow weary while doing good. Especially when our desire to serve our spouses and deny ourselves often times may feel like being taken advantage of instead of being received with gratitude. When there is no reciprocation, that is where the temptation comes in to do what needs to be done, instead of going above and beyond to bless our husbands.

I really like what Julie said in her comment that we need to focus more on being cherished by our Saviour, Jesus Christ, instead of trying harder to be cherished by our spouse.

Kelly Crawford July 23, 2015 - 10:35 pm


So, so true, what you’ve said. I think it’s a matter of staying saturated with God’s Word (be transformed, by the renewing of your mind), which reminds us of what our flesh doesn’t.

J&A July 30, 2015 - 6:57 pm

Well said. At the start of our marriage, we challenged each other to always strive to “outserve” each other. Both partners are a winner of that competition!


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