by Ashton Cude

In my last “Marriage Matters” post, I talked about how important it was to me to prepare my heart during our engagement. If you missed that post, you can catch up here. I knew marriage was a huge undertaking. What I didn’t know as a fiancé that I know as a wife is that marriage doesn’t always feel huge. Most days feel very mundane. It’s true that marriage is one of the most challenging and rewarding relationships in this world…but that’s true over a lifetime. The heart of your spouse is loved and nurtured primarily in the day-to-day grind. Below are some of the do’s and don’ts of a thriving marriage. The secret? It’s all in the little things.

1. Do the not-fun stuff: One of the most impactful ways you can love your spouse is by doing things that help them, even when they’re not the most fun things. I don’t always feel like making the bed or cleaning the house, but Andrew appreciates a clean house and it makes him feel less stressed. The effort it requires of me is a small price to pay. Andrew definitely did not want to give our cat a bath (he doesn’t even like cats) after the cat had an…ahem, accident last week, but he did it because I was struggling. Buckling down and doing things you don’t feel like doing is part of becoming an adult, and it’s an everyday way you can serve your spouse.

2. Don’t pretend you’re psychic: This is a lesson I’m still learning. You don’t get to be upset at your spouse for how they feel or things they didn’t even say. Andrew and I have found ourselves saying things like, “I can tell you’re still mad,” or “You’re saying that but I know you still think this…” You cannot read your spouse’s mind. And you don’t get to hold against them how they feel or how you think they feel. It seems ridiculous but when you live so closely with someone it’s amazing how these statements will come out of your mouth. You can only hold your spouse accountable for how they speak to you and their actions toward you. Don’t get your crystal ball out during an argument.

3. Do what they love: Take turns choosing what to watch on TV. Try to support your spouse’s interests, even if you don’t “get” them. Take time to do things that they enjoy. For example, I am not big on physical activity. It’s honestly hilarious how much of an understatement that is. Andrew, on the other hand, loves being outdoors and needs exercise to keep from feeling stressed. During his spring break, I planned an outing to Red River Gorge. We rode the Skylift and hiked the trail down. I hate heights and exercising, but I had a great time because Andrew was having such a great time. Those little compromises add up and cultivate a loving marriage.

4. Don’t forget to dream: We love being married and are enjoying our time as newlyweds so much. However, there are days that feel boring. There are also days that feel stressful. We constantly remind each other that our current set of circumstances won’t last forever. We may be stuck at home on the couch because we’re broke until the next paycheck. Andrew may be exhausted from dental school, and I’m lonely because I hardly ever see him. But those fleeting moments don’t define our marriage. We are on this ride for life! One of our favorite things to do is snuggle up together, pick a city, and search for houses on We talk about the places we might live someday, the forever home of our dreams, and how we would make the houses our own. It’s such a simple thing, and some people might think it’s lame, but we love thinking about the future together. Cherish each day you have with your spouse as it comes, and don’t forget to laugh at the days to come.

I hope these do’s and don’ts give our brides-to-be some insight into the beautiful simplicity of a happy marriage. Life comes in like a lion some days, but the work of marriage is done in the quiet moments that make up a lifetime. All you need to have a solid marriage is grace for each day.

All photos by Heather Todd Photography