7 Ways to Build Strength Into Your Marriage

Hello! I thought you’d like to hear about encouragement from a man’s perspective, so I’ve invited Robert, my husband, to be my co-contributor here at Encourage Your Spouse. (Learn more at our “About Us” page.) Robert is passionate about values – and how they can make a difference in all parts of life, especially marriage. In this post, he explains the value of strength, and how it can make a difference in a marriage…

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

That’s a powerful statement, applicable to marriages. It’s especially important to newly married couples. A newly married couple looking at another couple married 30 years might think,

“Wow, look how they work together, it’s like they know each other’s thoughts. We’ll never have that.

Or more likely, the newly married man or woman considers what their spouse is NOT doing, the way the older married couple might seem to automatically just respond or do things for each other.

This is dangerous thinking.

Why? Because it ignores the process of building strength into a marriage.

The Value of Strength

Strength might not be the first value you select for your marriage. But it likely is one of the more desired ones.

Strength can be defined as strong and sure; lastingness or permanence; having or wielding force or authority.

This value is more of a desirable end-state or goal, versus a desirable mode of behavior (to reach this end-state). In other words, most people would prefer to focus on being happy versus focusing on building strength into their marriage.

But imagine if every married couple began with the objective of building strength into their marriage.

The conscious and deliberate actions a husband and wife would incorporate into their daily life would have a compounding effect – over time. Such thoughtful and considered behavior would eventually create something of tremendous permanence and force.

Just as an athlete builds up strength over time, married couples can do the same.

7 Ways to Build Strength in Your Marriage

Building Strength into a Marriage

An obvious place to start building strength into a marriage is at the beginning. But it doesn’t really matter how long you have been married.

To build strength – start now.

Here are 7 ways to build strength into your marriage:

  1. Define your “why”. Creating a shared vision and defining what a meaningful life means to both parties is the best way to build strength.
  2. Be consistent in showing your love. Love is not earned. It is given freely. You can change how you demonstrate your love, but consistent effort here has a long-lasting effect.
  3. Respect your spouse. Being courteous is one thing. But when you proclaim honest admiration for your spouse, then you are showing how much you care. Also, when you demonstrate self-restraint, you are showing your spouse that their needs matter.
  4. Use intensity to your advantage. Every marriage has intense moments. While at times these might appear to strain the relationship, you can turn them into a positive impact by sharing your experiences with others – together. These create healthy stories of success.
  5. Be willing to adapt. If something is harmful to your marriage (or has the potential to be) then remove it. This is not about sacrifice. It’s about demonstrating that you are willing to do whatever it takes to protect your marriage.
  6. Keep the excitement alive. Push away predictability and boredom by occasionally surprising your spouse with something new. And remember, it needs to be about them and not you.
  7. Incorporate times of rest. This is not about being away from each other. Rather, allow time for renewal and rejuvenation of the things you love together. Just as the silent notes in music can create a powerful impact, so too can the quiet moments in a marriage create a lasting impact.

Strength is a desirable value to build into a marriage.

Not only does strength create lasting value for a married couple, but it also provides great value to their children, their community, and even their country.

In what other ways can you build strength into your marriage?

Robert Ferguson is a speaker, author and consultant with a passion for values. He and Lori are on an adventure – touring North America with their F150 and fifth wheel. Read more about Robert on the “About Us” page.


Encouraging Your Spouse in a Time of Disappointment

Encouraging Your Spouse in a Time of Disappointment

Things don’t always work out the way we’d like.

Life is not fair.

We might not like it, but it’s a fact.

Life is not fair.

(And who said it was supposed to be fair, anyway? That’s just a new-age myth. Give it up.)

God writes our story, and sometimes we’d like to change the details, but in the end, I’m sure He has the best, most awesome story for each of us. The best. I’m sure. I’ll bet my eternal life on that one.


Things don’t always work out the way we’d like.

And it…


(I was going to use the word “sucks”, but my father told me a lady doesn’t use that word. So I won’t.)

Things don’t always work out the way we’d like and it’s disappointing.

People disappoint.

Plans disappoint.

Events disappoint.

 Situations disappoint.

How do you encourage your spouse even through disappointment?

encourage even through disappointment FB

First, take stock of where you are.

Yes, you’re (both) disappointed – grieved – angry – frustrated – tired – frightened – disheartened – overwhelmed – confused – sad…  It’s OK to feel all those emotions.

Most times it’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s just part of the story.

Most times it’s not a tragedy, just a disappointment.

Most times it’s only for a time.

Start from where you are – and look forward.

There is always hope. It might not be the hope you wanted. It might not be the hope you envisioned. It might not be the hope you counted on. It might not be the hope you prayed for. It might not be the hope you…

There is always hope.

Reassess.  Redirect. Revise.

Stand firm on the foundation of your faith in God.

Share stories of how God has shown His power and faithfulness in your history together. Give thanks. Force your thoughts away from the current disappointment and rest on His promises. Be determined. Be stubborn. Dig in. Dig deep. Praise Him.

Love your spouse with no conditions. With no prerequisites.

Your love for each other does not need to be affected by this disappointment. In fact, disappointment can make your love shine with a light so bright it eclipses this moment of your story. (Do not let the evil one tell you lies.)


Pray alone. Pray together. Pray with others. Ask others to pray for you and with you. Pray without ceasing. Pour it all out in prayer, and then praise God.

Do Something.

Do something together. Maybe it’s necessary to take action because of the disappointment. Agree on a direction and make a plan. If you can’t agree, seek counsel. Then make a plan. And do something to move forward.

However, if self-focused action isn’t going to move you past your disappointment, then the action you need to take – together – is to serve. Serve together. Help someone else. Be a team and use the gifts God has put into you both to be a blessing.

This, too, shall pass.

Robert read me a quote this morning from Max Lucado,

“You can tell a lot about a person by the way he dies.”

Yeah. We’re only on this earth for a short while. We’re all headed toward eternity.

Every. One. Of. Us.

Christ died for all of us. He had disappointments. He was let down, betrayed, and walking through five days He experienced everything from Hosanna to Hatred. And I’m going to imagine He knew we would all be b-i-g disappointments for Him at times.  But that didn’t stop Him from finishing His story well.

Encourage your spouse through this time of disappointment – and finish your story, well.

encourage in disappointment

Hope Faith Love Prayer Action

An Addendum to this post – May 2016

I wrote the above post within the hour of receiving devastating news. It just flowed from my heart through my fingers onto the page…  Little did we know how very faithful God would be. 

This post – and our “news” happened on Good Friday. Yes. That Day.  Where all those who followed Christ were struck with despair because it appeared that He was gone – and His purpose was cut off.  

However, just like those women gathered around the tomb – three days later, everything was made clear – all the angst and sorrow and despair was turned to joy… for them… and for us. 

God was faithful. He solved our devastation in a way that was truly His. He took over. He provided. Literally. Someone walked up to our door and provided a way out….  Someday I’ll write the whole story.

It’s two years after this event of moving from despair to joy happened… I’m still in awe. And those who know our full story can’t explain it – there is no logical answer.

It was God. That’s all.  

ALL – that’s what HE is, and does. Always.

In. All. Ways.

All Glory and Honor to HIM!

Your Spouse. A Gift from God.

Your Spouse. A Gift from God.

Your Spouse is a gift. How will you encourage your spouse today? 

Yes. I know. He/She isn’t perfect. But your spouse is immensely valuable. Here are ways to encourage your spouse is a gift.

You could talk about the future with a hopeful attitude…

Anticipation is a good gift to give your spouse. What can you plan for the future that the two of you can anticipate?

Sometimes a physical representation is good when you’re planning and anticipating – This Adventure Journal is a fun way to encourage each other to dream and plan for what could be… What a cool idea - a place to put all your "bucket list" ideas and then journal about them as they happen.

The Adventure Journal is one product from Commit30 that has caught our attention – they have a planner that’s focused on reaching your goals. It’s useful too. The products from Commit30 are affiliate links where if you click to purchase Robert and I receive a small commission at no charge to you. We appreciate your support very much. Thank you!.

Hope is about what will be – what’s coming. We all have hope if we’re rooted in Christ.

You could share your faith in the goodness of God…

I’ve been listening to a song by Audrey Assad – “Good to Me.”

There are some useful reminders of God’s goodness ~ (click here if you can’t see the video)

When you’re bowed down with sorrow – do you still lift up God’s name?
Because He is good to you.
Do you let the foxes in the vineyard steal your joy?
Or do you focus on God’s good promises?

His goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life…

Faith starts with you. Then you can share.

You could love without condition…

Unconditional love.

It’s loving the way Christ loves us. It’s adding grace into your marriage. Unconditional love decides to forgive – regardless of who is right or wrong, first or last, better or worse. Love is kindness in action.

You could pray for your spouse…

  • you could pray morning, noon and night
  • you could pray out loud and in silence
  • you could start small – just clasp hands and give thanks for your spouse
  • you could pray for your spouse’s physical health, career, role as a parent and/or grandparent, your shared intimate life, relationship with friends, attitude, mental health, fears, reputation, temptations, purpose, choices, priorities, self-image, integrity, trials…

Pray. Without ceasing. 

You could take action to bless your spouse…
You know what I’m talking about…

What have you been avoiding doing that you know your spouse would appreciate?
It might not be a big thing. (or it could be)

What can you do –

where can you make a difference by taking action –

how can you support your spouse?

How will you encourage your spouse today- Use hope for the future - your faith in God - and more! Your spouse is a gift.


Thankful to link with:

Hope in Every Season  |  Essential Fridays

 The photo is by Daniel Davis Photography – I found it on Lightstock.com.  Wonderful, huh?

Adventures in Marriage {5 benefits when you get out of your comfort zone}

Adventures in Marriage {5 benefits when you get out of your comfort zone}

These days we’re babysitting.



puppy not conducive to working

Our son and daughter-in-love have adopted a puppy. And by default, so have Robert and I.

Our son has a business, and this dog is going to be his business’ mascot. (Once it learns to do its business outside!) Until that point, the puppy visits us in our home when Alex needs to be in the studio.

Rob and I work from home.

We’re kinda comfortable in our routine – he’s in his office at one end of our little cottage in the woods, and I work in the sunroom at the other end of the house. Now and again we pass in the hallway,

cuppa tea

and share a cuppa tea and a bite between meals.

Comfortable, right?
Get Cozy this Fall at Stash Tea
This puppy has provided everything except comfort!

But it has been an adventure around the Ferguson house lately. Have you ever gone to a dog park? Yah – that was an adventure… this puppy can hold her own with a full-grown pit bull. (sigh)

So – this juxtaposition between comfort and adventure has made me realize…

Comfort is not Conducive to Adventure

Having the puppy in our daytime lives has made it clear that comfort and adventure cannot be put in the same sentence. And as wonderful as comfort in marriage can be – it’s not as fun as an adventure. Every couple’s definition of adventure is going to be different.

  • Some couples are nomads – living out of suitcases and touring the world. (I wrote a post about 3 couples who live this way – click HERE to read it! And there’s a family of 6 who have been doing this for years.)
  • Some couples start a family business.
  • Other couples adopt children.
  • Some couples take care of a new puppy and all the adventures that entails.
  • There are couples who go on mission trips for weeks and years at a time.
  • Some couples go on safari – or get lost while hiking their neighborhood trails.
  • A few couples emigrate to other countries. (and others move from one city to another on the spur of the moment)
  • Many couples build new homes. (or oversee the construction of their home)
  • Some families educate their children at home. (BTW – I’m a ‘graduated’ homeschooling mom!)
  • Other families open their homes to couch-surfers – or go couch-surfing themselves!
  • Most couples encounter the adventure of an empty nest at some time.
  • Some couples pursue a degree to change professions.
  • A few couples take on the challenge of living fully in the face of an illness, or advancing age.
  • And for some, driving a different direction to go to the grocery store can be an adventure… 😉

What’s your definition of “adventure”?





No matter what you consider an adventure, there are at least 5 benefits for your marriage:

5 Benefits of Adventure in Marriage

1.  Planning for and before an adventure can fill you with hope for the future.

2.  Adventures build your faith in God and His goodness, because sometimes all your own efforts won’t make stuff work, but adding God into the equation can allow everything to add up.

3.  Experiencing an adventure together cements your bond – your love can grow strong(er).

4.  Praying together before, during and after an adventure develops your connection with each other and God. In prayer, you can really hear your spouse’s heart.

5.  Adventures grow your ability to take action together. Supporting your spouse while in the adventure builds a team-work marriage. You know what they say, right? Teamwork makes the dream work!

Leave your comfort zone!

An immense adventure – or a small adventure – maybe multiple adventures… give it a try. An adventure is not as scary as you’d think.

What’s your next adventure with your spouse going to be?

Adventures in Marriage 5 benefits

An Outward Sign You Are Married

An Outward Sign You Are Married

Our 1st-world culture is image obsessed. We see evidence in kids going back to school, in advertisements in magazines and on television.  I’m sure you’re not shocked – it’s not like adorning our bodies is something new…

How about you? Are you a stylish person? Do you subscribe to a certain outlook on appearance?

No matter if you’re fashion forward – or backward – or have your own way of expressing your identity through fashion:

What you wear will either encourage or discourage

…your spouse.

And influence those around you.

I’m suggesting we all need to be deliberate in some areas of our appearance.

3 Things 

When this post began it had 3 points – and ended up at over 1000 words.  Much too long. So I divided it up into three parts – one post for today, one post for tomorrow and the last on Monday.

  1. Do you look like you’re married?
  2. Are you highlighting what he/she enjoys?
  3. What are your cues?

This is the first.

 When your spouse looks at you – sees you and how you’ve chosen to adorn yourself :

Do you look like you’re married?  

A few years ago I accompanied Robert on a business trip to Munich, Germany. While he worked, I toured the city using the Bahnhof (train). Entering the underground station, there are unmanned kiosks to view the stops and purchase tickets. At one of these kiosks an English speaking man struck up a conversation about how to make a ticket choice (I can read and understand some German and he couldn’t). I was friendly. Then he asked me to meet him at the end of the day for a drink.

I was shocked, and stammered a bit before I said I couldn’t because I was married. He pointedly looked at my left hand.

It was bare.

I’d deliberately left my rings at home, because the prongs holding the stones had 25+ years of wear and I was concerned I’d loose them. But that didn’t matter. I did not appear married. Even to a stranger…

Yes, there’re lots of passably reasonable reasons not to wear your wedding rings. You might have yours – but I’m not here to argue about it.

My point?

Wedding rings are an outward signal – a tangible sign to you, your spouse, and all you come into contact with that you have made a vow to be faithful to your spouse. A ring on your finger signifies this choice. Like the idea, or don’t like the idea – have cultural, theological or ideological issues, it still doesn’t matter. To our 1st-world culture, a ring on the 4th finger of the left hand signifies marriage.

Do your hands say you’re married?

Your spouse will notice and so will others.

Want an opportunity to encourage your spouse?  

Use your smart phone – take a picture of your rings on your hand

– and text it to your spouse.

Say, “I’m so happy to be married to you!”

Tomorrow we’ll move on to #2 –  “Are you highlighting what he/she enjoys?”  Stay tuned…