would be the compass that leads and guides our marriage. We have shared 10 wonderful years together and I know that we have only scratched the surface of how to have a successful marriage, but I want to offer three Biblical truths that I think really work and, when practiced and put into action, ensure that your marriage will continue to be satisfying and full of vibrancy and life!
Three vital questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you seek to put the interests of your spouse above your own?
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let
each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Selfishness is the best marriage destroyer. The enemy has been using it to steal, kill, and destroy
relationships from the beginning of time. It whispers lies about lack and instills fear and doubt. The
writer is warning us to be on the lookout for this! He not saying that we should give up the things that we love, or to surrender all of our personal interests and desires. That would be unhealthy and would likely leave us feeling “empty” and unable to have the capacity to give and serve. He is obviously also not saying that we should speak negatively about or shame ourselves. When did we confuse the word “humility” with “humiliate?” Humiliation means a loss of self-respect and deterioration of value… humility has nothing to do with this. Humiliation is a side-effect of a lack of humility in our own lives. Humility simply means lowering one’s pride, surrendering selfishness, forsaking arrogance, and putting God first. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.
What Paul is really saying here is that when we become focused on winning, being right, “getting our way,” or selfishly pursuing our feelings and needs above our spouses- there be conflict and failure, but also great hurt, embarrassment, and guilt. So seek to SERVE your spouse. Find out what their needs are and learn to pursue them relentlessly, which will lead to greater depths of intimacy. But, as you do this, maintain a healthy boundary and rhythm of self-care. We are reminded about the second greatest commandment in Mark:
“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:31).
You have immense worth and value, and your heart requires care and protection! You must learn to
practice compassion, forgiveness and grace towards yourself, otherwise it will be a constant battle to love your spouse as you navigate every interaction with defenses up.
2. Do you use your speech to build up one another?
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it” (Eph 4:29).
When you’re trying to solve a problem and to “get on the same page” about something, being yelled at or criticized is not motivating and leads to increased defensiveness. But, when a couple is able to “speak life” to their mate when the temptation to blame or berate arises, something powerful happens, and connection is strengthened.
The New Living Translation is the best here: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences,” (Prov 18:21).
Your spouse is counting on you, the one they have committed themselves to for the rest of their lives, to be the one person who can encourage them when they are down or to help them to see optimistically when they have had a challenging day at work. You are responsible for the words you speak to your spouse, so make them count. People tire of endless apologies and constant excuses such as “I wasn’t thinking” or “I didn’t mean what I said.” While taking ownership is good, changed behavior is really the best apology.
It is wrong to think that a “normal” relationship is one filled with constant bickering, screaming, namecalling, arguments, and fights. Learn to speak in a life-giving way to one another, even in your
disagreements, and seek to understand and acknowledge your spouse’s perspective.
3. Do you stay gratitude-focused and practice contentment?
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,” (1 Tim 6:6).
I’ve saved the best for last. Do not take your spouse for granted. This should be a given, but it happens all too often. Your spouse is an amazing treasure. Your spouse is not someone who you are allowed to become “so comfortable with” that they get the brunt of your anger, blame, and criticism. They do not deserve that, and neither do you! Life is short and often unpredictable. I have friends who have tragically lost their spouses to suicide or in unexpected accidents, and they would echo the importance of this. Challenge yourself to focus on the things that you are thankful for, rather than the idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy about your spouse.
As a couple, practice thanking God together for the immense blessings in your life. If you struggle to find anything to be thankful for, just spend some time making a list of the things you see around you. Start with materials (my house, my car, my internet, my phone), then relationships (my children, my parents, my siblings, my best friends, my leaders), and then move to more abstract blessings (my talents, skills, gifts, wisdom). You will find that as you practice thankfulness, you will experience the presence of God, and all of His glory and light, in such an intense way that all negativity, discouragement, and bitterness begin to fade.
Gratitude is a mighty weapon.
This weapon leads to contentment. To quote Mary Poppins, “Enough is as good as a feast!” Can you
learn to be satisfied with what you’ve already been given in your mate? It is no wonder that people who are more content are more joy-filled. Do you desire to find peace and happiness in your marriage? This is one way to find it. God has given us so much. The ironic thing about contentment is that by being satisfied with and praising God for the life He has given us and all of the things that fill it, He will see our stewardship (our taking responsibility and care of things) and bless us with MORE.
Take some time to sit with these questions. Ask God to guide you in an understanding of ways that you can continue to grow in each of them and practice this growth with your spouse. Pray with me:
God, I desire for my marriage to be healthy and whole. I know that this starts with me. Give me wisdom. Fill in where I am lacking, Lord. Bring these three questions to mind as I interact with my partner. Help me to have self-control, patience, and grace in the way I speak and act towards her/him. Remind me to pray for my spouse. Thank you for bringing them into my life and for all of the ways that I am being refined and perfected because of our relationship and connection. I love you. Amen.
Are you in a relationship where you struggle to connect and communicate well? We would love to set you up with one of our professional therapists. Feel free to explore our website and read through some of our therapist’s bios. Give us a call with your questions at 303-902-3068 or email us at [email protected]