4 Practical Tips to Keep Your Marriage Strong

Photo by Alfonso Lorenzetto

Photo by Alfonso Lorenzetto

I still remember the last time I used the word divorce in anger.

Leon and I were living in Ecuador at the time; it was just a few months after our wedding. One night on our way home from a restaurant, our tire blew and things just went downhill from there. I said something, he responded, and tension dropped hard between us.

Later when we walked into our apartment, I looked at him and said, “If you ever do that again, I will just divorce you.”

It took time, but eventually I realized my words came from my wounds. I was comparing his actions with those of my parents’, who used to employ the word divorce all the time. I didn’t want a marriage like theirs. I was furious with Leon—because I was afraid.

On that day we committed never to use the word divorce again, and we have kept this promise.

Leon and I celebrated our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary on June 30, and one of the things we’ve learned over the years is that divorce is a bad word when you’re trying to cherish, honor, and love your spouse.

When you know that word is not an option for you, your mindset shifts. “We are going to work things out. God is our rock in this marriage. He’s part of our covenant, and we know He’s going to help us through this. He will give us what we need when we go to Him for wisdom.”

That’s the first marriage tip in this article—never use the word divorce. Not if you want to build up your marriage. Not if you want your spouse to feel peace in their heart when they think about you. If the word comes to your mind, ask God to replace it with a prayer of unity and intimacy for your marriage.

Here are three other key things Leon and I have learned since our wedding day.

Build the Wall

You don’t have to go through life alone, trying to figure out everything by yourself. Ask questions, seek help and godly counsel, and find a handful of loving individuals who will pray for you and your marriage.

In Ezekiel 22:30, God said something beautifully moving:

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land.

Your marriage will be healthier and stronger when you have people who will “build the wall” with you and stand in the gap for you, praying for your marriage on a regular basis.

Choose to be open and vulnerable with these special people, because this will help your marriage grow. 

Have Sex—a Lot

Making love is not just an activity shared between a husband and wife. It actually is a sword that protects your marriage covenant before the Lord.

When two people are healthy, sex is an invitation to step even closer to one another. “Come and see me,” it says. “Love me just the way I am, and I will love you just the way you are.” Something happens in love making that the natural world can sense but can’t really explain.

Sex binds a couple together physically, emotionally, and spiritually, which is why it’s important to protect it. Making this level of commitment with someone other than your spouse actually cracks open the door for physical, emotional, and spiritual confusion.

Even twenty-nine years later, sex is still a strong part of the covenant I share with my husband. It’s a priority for Leon and me to connect intimately spirit, soul, and body. 

Speak Only Good Words

As the old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

This is unfortunately common in marriage, where two people are living under the same roof, in the same bed, trying to get ready in the morning, figuring out what they want to do that day or week, paying the bills, loving each other immensely—and also getting immensely annoyed.

In the day-in, day-out rhythms and patterns of life, it’s easy to start speaking words of bitterness. This sounds a little different for every couple, but it usually goes something like this:

“You’re always like this. You always treat me this way. You never listen to me. I can’t expect you to understand.”

These words are incredibly destructive. They tear down instead of build up.

One of the most important things Leon and I do in our marriage is speak words of life. I’m not saying we never have arguments or disagreements or get annoyed at each other—but we constantly try to remember our true identity as beloved children of God. That is the base from which we work, and so we choose our words with care.

Use good words for your partner even when you are upset.

A Display of God’s Glory

There are, of course, many things that could be said about how to keep your marriage alive and strong. I hope to write more about this topic in the future.

But for the moment, I just want to remind you that your marriage is a big deal. As Jani Ortlund writes:

A biblical marriage shows the world a tiny picture of the Big Romance—the one between Christ and his church in love together. Marriage is meant to be an up-close display of the forever love of Jesus for his people. 

At the end of the day, that’s why you’re married—to display God’s glory.

Walking in His light, Leon and I want to be a steady, faithful example of what marriage can look like. You can be such an example, too.

 

Interested in reading more? Here are a few other articles on related topics:

For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.

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