The Gift of Marriage
I love seeing older couples holding hands, showing signs of love, commitment, and affection. It fills me with hope when I see couples enjoying life, love, and the gift of marriage. The other day, I saw a beautiful older couple strolling around in the streets of Venice. They were probably in their early 80’s and still together. They had the look of lifelong friends who'd seen their share of troubles, but had become stronger because of the experiences they’d shared together. That’s the way marriage should be. There are some struggles, but like a strong friendship a marriage can weather the storms of life. Like the scriptures say, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”-James 1:17
One factor in the development of a marriage relationship that can provide stability is our relationship with God. At times, the quality of our marriage may wane, and that’s when the Holy Spirit can come alongside and help us improve the relationship. The truth is that marriage is a gift given by God. It's an institution created by Him. Marriage is a good and perfect gift that comes from a loving Father that wants the best for us. God’s Word says that he who finds a wife finds favor before God. It also says that Jesus came to give us abundant life.
John 10:10 states that Satan, God’s enemy came to lie, kill, and destroy. That has been his plan from the beginning of creation, but Jesus came to give us abundant life.
Remember that struggles will come into our lives and marriages. We were born into a fallen world and difficult circumstances are part of it. The enemy doesn’t want marriages to be strong because a strong marriage brings glory to God, fulfills the purpose of true love and intimacy with God, and brings blessings to future generations.
With this in mind, here are a few ways to make your marriage stronger.
Share your faith. Marriage is so much more than a license and a ceremony. Marriage is the spiritual, emotional and physical union between a man and a woman. It's a covenant between God and a couple who've made a forever commitment. Naturally, acknowledging the spiritual component of life and marriage can bring a couple together under a common purpose. I believe that our relationship with Father God is the key to healing, wholeness, and well-being. Since God created men and women in His own image (Genesis 1:27), it's reasonable to conclude that we can never be complete apart from a relationship with Him. It's through Jesus that we truly understand forgiveness, humility, and dying to self.
Live the adventure. Sometimes as relationships go along, couples can take each other for granted. That passionate spark seems to fade. Fortunately, there are ways for partners to re-ignite that passion for each other and keep it going. As a man, sex may be one of the first things on your mind when you see your wife. Remember, there’s more to life than intercourse. Get out and do things together with friends or as a couple. Change your environment and share a hobby together like bike riding or an art class. Return to the excitement you had as a couple when you first met.
Communicate well. Work on your communication skills. Having a teachable heart and being a great listener can improve your marriage immeasurably. Like any skill, effective communication takes practice. When we talk, we send messages. The three components of a conversation are content, tone, and nonverbal messages. Much of what people hear when you speak has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you say it. Nonverbal gestures, expressions, and tone of voice are often more powerful than words. That’s why it’s a good idea to listen and ask questions. Go past understanding what your spouse says and repeat their salient points with phrases like what I hear you saying is… Try to see their side of the discussion and not just understand their words.
Stay accountable. Studies show that couples with accountability partners are more likely to achieve their goals than those without partners. In other words, no one succeeds alone. We all need cheerleaders in our lives and in our marriages. Getting involved with a couple who can mentor and speak into your life will always help you to have the best perspective on your marriage.
Maintain hope. Think of hope as the opposite of fear. I recently read an article by Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard-trained researcher and author. In her book, The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce, Feldhahn discusses the truth about divorce statistics. Feldhahn claims that the actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent and that those who attend church regularly don’t have to live with the threat of divorce hanging over their heads because our chances of having a successful marriage are higher. Confidence in our marriage relationships should be high. Why live in fear of divorce with God on our side.