Sean and I are closing in on 20 years together and our marriage is stronger than ever.. today. Though if you asked me last week if we were “feeling” strong in our union I would have said, no, not particularly.

Sean and I were not set up for success. Both his parents and mine are divorced – and each of us has struggled through the loss of our own first marriages.

So we certainly are not quick to offer up marriage advice and certainly do not feel like experts. But while we were having a dinner date night last night we pushed ourselves to come up with four things that help us bring ourselves back to center in our marriage. Not an exhaustive list. Just the one we could agree on while we split an entree on a Friday night.

RUN TOGETHER – Sean and I have run a few marathons together, and enjoy training together. He wants to run a 50-miler in 2016 and so he’s been running several days each week. I love running, too – and now that a spider bite on the bottom of my foot is healed up I’m back out on the trails as often as possible. Running together gives us time to talk, connect, and dream. And since one of his love languages is quality time, this time together is key to keeping us connected.

SPEAK KIND WORDS – The power of life and death is in our tongues. I’ve really had to learn to tame mine and use my words to build him up rather than constantly reminding him how I’d rather see things done this way or that way. And since he’s more of a pictures guy than a words guy – this one pushes and helps both of us. Words of affirmation are my top love language so when he can remember to say something nice to me it fills me up like nothing else.

PRAY TOGETHER – They say couples who pray together stay together. However, I can’t actually find any reliable statistics on this issue. I can say that when Sean and keep our eyes focused on God together in prayer regularly, we are far less likely to get caught up in our little issues and irritations. He leads prayer at night. I lead in the morning. And nobody gets mad if we skip a day of prayer together, we just try to do better next time.

SIT ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE BOOTH – This works for us. You may enjoy gazing into one another’s eyes and having long conversations about your day (do people really do that?) But if you see us out on a date we’ll be on the same side of the booth. His top love language is physical touch and if we are close enough to touch during dinner, it softens his heart and makes him more likely to try to answer all my questions about life and work and raising kids.