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10 Ways to Make Your Home a Refuge for Your Marriage

  • Jen Ferguson
10 Ways to Make Your Home a Refuge for Your Marriage

You don’t have to be a homebody to need a safe place to return home to at the end of the day. While some of us are indeed more adventurous and wandering souls, there is a part in all of us that needs the security of a home base, especially when we’re married. How do we create a space that we all long to return to, a place where we know we can show up and be loved and accepted unconditionally? How do we create a sense of dual ownership and responsibility so we are continually reminded that we not only have something to receive when we cross that threshold, but something to give as well?

Here are 10 ways you can make your home a refuge for your marriage:

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Soroush Karimi

1. Be predictable when it matters most.

Some of you may read that and think B-O-R-I-N-G! I see you spontaneous people out there, and you have a gift that also has a place in your home. But we all need some sort of security that our spouse will actually walk through the front door when s/he says s/he will. Not going to make it when you thought you would? No problem. Call ahead. Explain what’s going on. Don’t make being late a habit. When your spouse doesn’t know when you’re going to be home, it can make for chaos internally and externally, and those are opposite characteristics of a safe haven.

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2. Be organized.

I realize not everyone has this strength, but there are many tools out there that can help you step-up your organizational game. We have four people in our family, and sometimes all four of us have different needs. Part of making the home a refuge is knowing that you have a team in place working together for the common good and invested in helping each person reach his/her full potential.

If decisions about who gets what? and who gets taken where? when? are always left to the last minute, some ball will get dropped. The one who juggles most of this will usually get the blame and feel unsupported by his/her spouse. Using a shared calendar or having regular family meetings provide space to talk about who can help when and make each person’s role and needs feel heard and valued.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Estee Janssens

3. Make room for mess.

Some people, in order to be fully alive and creative, need to get messy. To complete a project, they need to see everything all at the same time. When my husband comes home from work, he often sees piles of papers, books, and an array of colorful pens all spread out on the kitchen table. Since we want to eat dinner, I eventually put it away, but I’m grateful for the space to work creatively in my own way. But there’s not just physical mess that needs accepting, but there’s also relational and spiritual mess with which we must contend. The messes inside ourselves also need space to come out so we can sort through, process, and heal. Making room for these types of messes in our home signal to our spouse that we have the freedom to be our true, authentic selves…and will be loved no matter what.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Alice Achterhof

4. Create digital-free zones.

These don’t have to be physical rooms (hello, phone in my pocket and watch on my wrist) where electronic devices aren’t allowed. Think more in terms of time zones. Respecting your spouse means paying attention to their words, listening actively, making eye contact, and responding appropriately. Those are all hard to do when you’re reading your email or scrolling through Instagram. Set aside times where you commit to focus only on each other. Put your phones on “do not disturb” and respect the time you have together, at least weekly, if not daily.

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5. Keep the memories alive.

I have a picture on my refrigerator circa 2000 of me and my husband before we were married. My parents took it from across the table at my college graduation lunch. In the picture, we’re looking at each other adoringly. I’ll never get rid of it. Why? Because life happens and I don’t always feel so adoring, nor do I always allow time to connect with Craig in this way. When was the last time you stared adoringly into your spouse’s eyes? This picture reminds me how I felt that day and encourages me to keep creating moments like that one. When you fill your home with pictures of good memories, you reconnect with the feelings that went along with those moments. You remember good times happened in the past, and good times can and will happen in the future, even if your present feels not-so-great.

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6. Make time-outs acceptable.

I’m not talking time-outs for the kids. I’m talking time-outs for you and your spouse. There will be days when you need a break—a break from your duties, an argument, or a crisis. Yes, that means your partner may have to shoulder a bit more responsibility or wait a little longer for resolution, but we all are prone to hitting our limits at one time or another. Allow your home to be a safe place for your spouse to advocate for his/her own self-care. If you’re the one taking a time-out, leave your spouse with the reassurance that you will come back.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jaclyn Moy

7. Allow for spontaneity.

Okay, you spontaneous people! Are you still with me? This aspect of your personality is key (and if neither you nor your spouse has this trait, watch and see how other couples use it) because it breathes new life into the daily routine. If you have kids, yes, you may have to plan a bit for your spontaneity, but don’t let that stop you. It can be as simple as stopping by the store on the way home from work with some flowers or telling your husband you’d love to go to that car show or baseball game with him. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Alvin Mahmudov

8. Be open.

Be receptive to dreams, ideas, solutions, random sayings, and passing comments. Sometimes we take everything our spouse says as a mandate or as something it means we need to plan/do/implement/change now. We must realize that the sharing of ideas is a basis for conversation. It doesn’t imply that things must be done or even that they are good ideas. But when we are open to what our spouse is saying and we don’t shut him/her down or out, it provides space for creativity and for the freedom to just express ourselves freely.

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9. Meet each other’s needs.

In his book, Keep Your Love On, Danny Silk unpacks the trust cycle as it pertains to expressing and meeting needs. When our spouse expresses a healthy need and we don’t meet it, we break trust. When we do, we build trust. Part of creating a safe environment is doing our best to meet the needs of our loved one. When we don’t (because we will all fail at some point), we need to make the effort to rebuild the trust and repair the relationship. When our spouse communicates an unhealthy need, we need to respond with compassion and work together to figure out what is motivating the unhealthy need.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Gus Moretta

10. Make sure you’re both represented.

I believe you want to see yourself in your home. You want it to reflect, at least partially, your personality, your hobbies, and your style. It’s what makes it feel welcoming and comfortable to you. Work together to create a welcoming, pleasing environment. Will there be areas of compromise? Of course! But just as much as you want to be represented, you want your spouse to see him/herself as well. God put you together for a reason and you just may discover that your styles are more complementary than you first believed!

As you continue to build and refine your home, remember the most important thing in a home is love. All of these ideas are motivated by love and for love. Focus on that and you and your home will be a refuge.

Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography and are also creators of the Marriage Matters Prayer Cards. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. Jen is also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez