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Life & Love: 3 Tips For a Better Marriage

Michelle Lara / August 6, 2015

The 3 Things I Changed For a Better Marriage


Will and I have been married almost 12 years {our anniversary is August 30th!}. As I type TWELVE years I take a deep sigh not in the way you think just in the sense that where has the time gone? In some ways it feels like the time has rushed by and then when I pause and I think about everything we’ve gone through 12 years doesn’t seem long enough to fit in all the memories we’ve created.

Will and I had what I guess you would describe as a whirlwind romance. We knew each other for a brief 3 months {yes that says THREE} when we decided to get married. We met and instantly fell in love. We lived in different states – I lived in Brooklyn {where I grew up} and I was content with my life I had just moved into my 2nd apartment and life was good. I was focusing on my career, enjoying my friends and had a plan to travel more.

Will was in the military {NAVY} and stationed in North Carolina. He had just returned from Iraq and his life was running in a similar way. He was traveling {tons more than me} and focusing on his career. He had spent nearly a year in the Middle East, when he returned he went on leave and returned to South Florida {where his family was now living}.

It’s during this time that we ‘met’.  My friend and I had just returned from a girls trip in Mexico a friend of hers had just returned from South Florida where he vacationed with his friend {who turned out to be Will}. These photos were exchanged and within a day or two I was viewing them. I remember the photo that I first saw Will in my instant reaction was “wow who is that guy?!” I like to think that he looked at mine and thought the same thing … I’m not sure exactly how but within the week we were corresponding via email only at first and then by phone for HOURS. I was smitten he was everything I wanted in a man, and then we met and that kind of sealed the deal.

I am not a compulsive person by any means {I try and plan out every single detail of my life … which hardly works for me btw}, but when it came to the decision of marrying Will it just felt right. It was the first time in my life that I felt the presence of God guiding my decision. I loved him and while on paper the timeline didn’t make sense it felt right in my heart and in the wise words of Nora Ephron “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”. 

Ephesians 4:32
Part of building a strong marriage for us means praying together.


You can imagine that starting out this way we had some bumps in the road but we managed to create a pretty solid foundation. Fast forward to nearly 12 years and 2 kids later we’ve been married longer than most of our friends. I guess because we’ve been married so long some people think I kinda know a thing or two about having a successful marriage.

I get asked a lot of advice which is funny because half the time I’m walking around trying to figure stuff out myself. 

I can sit here and give the standard advice:

  • Have a steady date night
  • Never go to sleep upset
  • Never argue in front of the kids

All that advice on the surface seems good but when you get into the nitty gritty of what it really means to be married {forever} to someone it isn’t all rose petals.

The 3 Things I Changed For a Better Marriage

Date Night:

The truth is I would LOVE more date nights with Will the reality is they’re hard to organize. Our schedules and lack of a babysitter doesn’t help. Sometimes by the time your done paying for the sitter can you really afford a fabulous date night?

We have to get creative with our date nights – sometimes they don’t happen at night. We have very unconventional schedules. I work from home and Will is an RN so sometimes he’ll have a random weekday off.  This is when we pack up a sandwich and head to the beach {when the kids are in school, school has been out so this hasn’t happened in a bit}. 

We also love to eat + cook together,  and for us getting the kids to bed a little earlier and cooking a romantic meal is a great option. It’s not the action of going somewhere and doing something extravagant it’s more about taking the time to just talk. In these moments we make an effort to not talk about the kids. In fact, this is our ‘what if’ time where we talk about goals we skip the mundane – “how was work?” chat and just really get reconnected again.

I swear an hour or two undisturbed with Will just talking I seriously fall in love over again. I’m reminded that I married an amazing person and that I’m blessed to have him on my team. 

Our date nights don’t happen often but when they do we’re fully engaged. My advice: Skip the small talk, definitely don’t talk about the kids or finances etc – it should be light, fun and just about the two of you! For us date night is quality over quantity. 

Never Go To Sleep Upset:

I think I’m a pretty passionate person which means arguing with me isn’t a walk in the park for the other person. I can hit below the belt and sometimes wind up putting my foot in my mouth. Sometimes our issues can’t be solved in one day – I think that’s the case for most people.

Arguing is a part of any relationship but figuring out how to do this in a loving way is a real game-changer.  When I take time to truly listen to Will and not just wait for him to pause so I  can have another opportunity to get my point across makes all the difference.  My brain is constantly going and for YEARS while he was saying his side I honestly wasn’t fully paying attention I was just thinking of more points I HAD to make to rest my case.

At the end of the day we are on the same team. We have each other’s best interest at heart. Any relationship worth having is going to have some bump in the roads – argue lovingly and if that means you go to sleep with things unsettled that’s OK. I rather go to sleep unsettled then having said something I will regret later.  The extra time allows me to fully think about what the end goal is, what the potential compromise could be and remind myself that I married Will for a reason that together we can overcome any obstacle. 

Never Argue in Front of The Kids: 

This seems like amazing advice right?! I mean it’s the most responsible thing to do as a parent but earlier this year Will and I joined a Marriage Life Group and it turns out this isn’t the best thing for the kids. OK let me explain a bit because I might have lost a few of you – when I heard this I semi rolled my eyes at the idea. As a group before we got into the nitty gritty of marriage we talked about our childhood particularly the relationship our parents had with one another.  As we sat in a circle I couldn’t believe how many of us had similar stories.

There were stories of drag out wars with no resolution in sight and on the other end one parent that had a dominating personality and the other partner just did what he/she was told. Our group leaders {Don & Marilyn} shared similar stories; the end result is we mimic what we see as children. If your children never see you LOVINGLY argue and then resolve it when they grow up they don’t have the tools to argue effectively. 

Now obviously you don’t want to lay it all on the line BUT if you first learn to argue lovingly then it’s a learning opportunity for your kids.

A few things you need to remember when having an argument/discussion with your spouse:

  • You love this person in the midst of your emotion keep that at the forefront – don’t say mean/hateful things. 
  • Keep the past in the past – this is hard to do because if your like me you are ready and willing with your case at hand, fight the temptation to bring up old issues.
  • Think about what you want to say before you say it – repeat it to yourself let it sink in and then ask yourself is this the best way to express what I’m feeling?

The 3 Things I Changed For a Better Marriage



  • Such a great post Michelle. A good reminder of all of the essential things needed to keep marriage running like a well oiled machine. I know Jose and I have struggled with all of the above. We have gone through dry spells of no date night for months on end but we put our foot down three months ago and set out to do at least once a month. It’s been so amazing how we suddenly feel “awake” as if to say, “Oh hey, there you are again!” Nice to tap in to who we were before the cherubs came along. 😉 Thanks again for this positively humbling and necessary post. <3

    • Thanks Teresa I think you are right we need to commit and make the time to set a date. Thanks so much for your kind words xo