This January marks 17 years of marriage for The Pastor and me. We started dating a year before that, so 18 years together. We are just years away from spending more years together than years apart. On our anniversary I looked across the table, past the 4 very boisterous children, at my man and thought, “THIS is success.” Life has its ups and downs. But when I look across the table, holding our family, I am so blessed by knowing that life can go any way it wants and I will still have this man of mine and our marriage.
So I thought I’d ask this man of mine, “Hey, what are we doing right?” That’s not always a question people ask, but in reality, marriage is hard. Marriage takes a lot of work. Not every marriage survives. And yet, here we were. And without sounding braggadocious, it has been pretty easy for us. Don’t stop reading!!! I’m fully aware that those who are entirely committed and completely love their spouses sometimes have to work hard at keeping a good marriage. And I’m so happy that people are willing to do the work to keep it good.
So, I want to share the things we are doing right in hopes to inspire those just starting out… or those who are trying to keep on going. And please… 17 years is just a drop in the bucket, so if you have your own “right”, please share in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you and your spouse are doing right!
Our wedding vows are taken from Romans 12:9-18. When we decided to write our own vows we wanted something Biblical. We figured the best way to truly keep a vow that important was to take it straight from the eternal Word of God. The caption to that passage says, “Love in Action” and that was our intention. To keep love an action.
Love must be sincere: When praying for my spouse, I pray that God will show me how to love him. I ask God to keep passion in my marriage. Without a sincere love, marriages won’t work. So pray for a genuine sincere love for your spouse, it’s never too late for this step!
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good: There are many things that are a huge threat to your marriage, stay away from those things. HATE THEM! If it threatens your closeness, your communication, your sincere love, stay away and cling to what is good. Leave no room for those threats to creep in. Keep your relationship pure. Keep your eyes on your spouse, your heart on your spouse, and your passion for your spouse. Hate all evil that tries to creep in. (With technology in our pockets, the temptation can be there at any moment. Take the steps required to keep your marriage good).
Be devoted to one another in love: This goes along with the previous one. Devotion is loyalty. So staying true to your spouse in all aspects (emotionally and physically) is very VERY important. It seems obvious, but loyalty isn’t just staying affair-free. It also involves not speaking bad about the other. It’s very common for friends to get together and bash their spouses. “He never_______!” “She always _______!” It breeds quickly and goes south just as quick. Be devoted in love! Don’t put your spouse down EVER… not even to your mother!
Honor one another above yourself: My husband rubs my back almost every night. I can almost guarantee he doesn’t really WANT to rub my back every night, but he knows I have a hard time falling asleep and so he does this for me. I could keep listing examples of how this man of mine honors me above himself… and to be honest, I’m having a hard time coming up with ways I demonstrate this for him (let me take a moment to let that conviction set into my heart…) but, when we honor the other above ourselves, we learn to hold our tongue, give things up, add things that aren’t our first choice, and strive to please the one we love. When BOTH spouses do this, no one feels belittled, overworked, or stretched beyond what is God-glorifying.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord: This is the most important thing to a successful marriage. I cannot emphasize enough how important your relationship with God is to your relationship with your spouse. As each spouse draws close to Christ, seeking His will above all else, they will draw closer to each other. Think of it as a triangle…
So keeping your spiritual zeal and fervor is of utmost importance.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer: When our hope in placed in Jesus then being joyful is easy. Nothing makes a better marriage more than a happy spouse. When we can be joyful, it can spread through the household. That doesn’t mean trials won’t arise, but that’s where the 2nd part comes in. We need to be patient in affliction. Of course this verse is speaking about trials in our personal walk, but when trials come into our marriage, we need to be patient with our spouses. Because we love them sincerely, and because we are devoted them, and because we honor our spouse above ourselves we can be patient when trials come up. This is why we must do the 3rd part… we MUST be faithful in our prayer time. Continually pray for your spouse, and your marriage. Nothing aids in the love towards a person like praying for them does.
Practice hospitality: I’ve often wondered why it’s so easy to hold our tongue and our temper with our college roommate (who can be a tad unruly at times) but when we meet the love of our lives, get married, and move into a house together (as it should be done in that order), we seem to throw consideration out the window. We stop holding our tongues and reigning in our temper. When my college roommate let the trash pile up in our apartment (it was her job to take it out), I didn’t nag her and scream about all of her inadequacies as a person simply because the trash was overflowing. And so I should not do that to the love of my life! Consideration goes a long way. Practice hospitality even with your spouse. They may not be a guest in your home, but you can definitely greet your spouse with a daily dose of warmness and courtesy.
Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse: Let me be honest, there are times when a tiny little frustration can blow up to a full-out catastrophe in my mind. In my mind I can say, “These dishes can pile up all week long! Maybe when he has to eat off dirty dishes I’ll get some help around here!” (this is usually on a bad day, and then I remember how often he does the dishes and I snap out of it!). I never follow through with my antics in my head (mainly because they are totally irrational!), but I’ve talked to women who have shut their husband’s out by refusing to make him dinner. She’ll cook just enough for her and the kids and leave him plateless at the table. I’m not saying he didn’t do something to hurt her, he probably did, but we should set out to bless and not curse. Do what is right even when the other person does not. And continue to be faithful in prayer, praying for a change in your spouse. Maybe even go above and beyond when you feel hurt. You can always discuss the hurt, but always always always bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn: Empathy in a marriage goes a long way. When one spouse is dealing with frustration in the workplace, be that listening ear. How many times have wives said, “I’m not looking for a solution, I just want him to listen!” We, wives, want our husbands to be happy when we’re happy and sad when we are sad… well, at least, understand our feelings. I’m assuming it goes the same way from husbands to wives. Be a good listener, empathize with your spouse.
Do not be proud… Do not be conceited: Most arguments between spouses are simply a matter of who is right and who is wrong. And too often who ever is right wants to be sure the other one knows just how right they are. But this goes along with honoring your spouse above yourself. You can be right and still honor your spouse. You can empathize and still be right. You can agree to disagree and maintain your friendship with your spouse. Is being right more important than valuing your spouse? Is being right more important than validating your spouses feelings? Is being right worth the divide it can cause? Do not be conceited or too proud to bow out of a discussion that is heading towards argument. A silent night is better than an explosive one. (That is of course assuming you’re communicating in a loving way in other aspects.)
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone: When Paul wrote this passage, this segment, this command he understood that it was impossible to always be right in everyone’s eyes. And although this particular wording can seem weird. What Paul was trying to convey was that we need to be upright Christians in our everyday walk. Let people see the good marriage you have. There are friends of mine (I use the term loosely) that are offended by my happiness over my good marriage. I’d bet it’s safe to say some have even stopped reading, not because this blog is SO LONG, but because they don’t want to hear about my successful marriage. They scoff and get upset, but in reality God set marriage up to show us a type of Christ and His Church. Christians are the bride of Christ. He loves us unconditionally and cares for us and He set up marriage to give us a tangible view of that relationship. Our sinful nature and actions have messed that up. But look at a good marriage, and you’ll see that loving relationship Christ wants to have with us. Of course, even the best marriage is an imperfect reflection of a very perfect Christ, but it’s a glimpse. The fact that my husband knows me better than my own mother, and loves me anyway… by CHOICE reminds me of just how much more Jesus does. So let your marriage be a testimony to those around you. Let it be a witness of Christ’s love for His church. I mean, for real, if my husband can endure my many imperfections and still love and adore me, how much more can Jesus?
And lastly As far as it depends on you, live at peace with your spouse (scripture says everyone). Choose to live at peace. Learn to overlook. And decide on a respectful conversation over a hateful nagging. If you know your husband likes the seat moved back in the vehicle so he doesn’t hit his knees on the steering wheel, take the extra effort to push the seat back when you drive his car. If your wife drags you to one more antique store when your feet have been aching for 4 stores already, take one for the team (she’s only looking for the best price anyway, and that’s a good thing for you!… insert winky face here). As far as it depends on you… if it’s in your power to do so… live at peace with your spouse.
There are TONS more scripture that would go great for guidance on a great marriage, and there are TONS more tips we could share. But I believe most fall within these 12 guidelines. I’m not stating that my husband and I never fight, or that I’m this perfect wife, or that he’s a perfect husband. But we have a fantastic marriage because we try to do all 12 of these things. Just like any human being, I get annoyed with him, and him with me from time to time, but that seems to be less and less the more and more we put these 12 things into practice.
How is your Love in Action? I’d love to hear and share, leave me a comment!