“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Is does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Just like your growth as a Christian, marriage is a process. If we are doing it right, we are continuing to be pruned and shaped into the husband or wife we are meant to be. Just as a plant becomes fuller when pruned, our marriages–and lives–become fuller when we strip those things that take away from our relationship and focus on the things that add to it.
There are a few things that come to mind that are “must-haves” for any successful marriage. These are things that many of us don’t do well. It’s not because we lack the know-how or time, it’s that we simply lack the focus on being intentional in our marriages. The first step to improving is identifying pitfalls and potential problem areas.
Communicating. Any successful relationship is built around communication. Unity, just as Paul writes to the Ephesians, involves “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). If something is bothering you in your marriage, don’t share it with your best friend without talking to your spouse about it directly. It may be difficult to discuss, but trust in true love.
Speaking Her Language. There’s another aspect of communicating that is essential–speaking your spouse’s love language. Maybe you haven’t read Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” or taken the steps to figure out the love languages for yourself or your spouse. We can all agree that we need to understand what makes our spouse tick and then act accordingly. We need to make the extra effort to do things in our marriages that make our spouses feel loved.
Praying. According to FamilyLife, which has surveyed thousands of participants at its Weekend to Remember marriage retreats, less than 8 percent of couples pray together on a regular basis. Even fewer Christian couples (about 5 percent) pray together daily. And, these are Jesus-loving people who care enough about their marriages to attend a retreat. What would a survey look like among a wider audience? Sadly, it’s likely the same or worse. Most of us don’t take the time to pray together with our spouses.
I’ve heard this analogy used before: a marriage is like a garden. It’s always changing and growing something. Even if left untouched, it’s still going to sprout up weeds. But, if tended and tilled, the soil is ready for planting and growing beautiful or useful flowers or plants. We have a choice. Leave our marriage untended or work at it. The result of doing the latter will make it all worthwhile.
A Prayer for Your Marriage:
Father, help me to be the best [husband/wife] you have intended me to be. Show me where I need to improve. Help me to be a better communicator, help me to love my [husband/wife] better, and help us both to grow closer to You and to each other in this new year. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Content taken from “3 Things You Should be Doing with Your Spouse That You Probably Aren’t" by Brent Rinehart. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.
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