8 Tips for a Stronger Marriage

Photo provided courtesy of Margaret Lake Photography
Photo provided courtesy of Margaret Lake Photography

So much has been written about marriage in other books and blogs, I don’t think I have anything new to write. But since my husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary (yes, I am THAT old…ugh) this week, I thought I would throw in my two-cents.

Marriage is wonderful and weary–all at the same time. And I think what makes it most challenging is this…you have to lay yourself down. Your selfish wants. Your personal indulgences. Your individual rights.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

And I know. I know. It sounds absolutely terrible, right? To give up a piece of yourself for someone else…

when they don’t deserve it

when they don’t behave nicely

when they do nothing in return

But there is a catch. Oh yes, there is always a catch. IT IS SO WORTH IT! The oxymoron of marriage is this: Giving of yourself gives you greater joy. Through marriage, we encounter a piece of Jesus more. We get to experience His sacrificial love even more. We get a glimpse of how He laid down his life for us undeserving souls…even more. How so you may ask?

Try this:

When your spouse makes you mad and every hair follicle within you wants to fight back, turn the other cheek Matthew 5:39

When you have every right to retaliate, forgive instead Matthew 18:22

When you want to do things your way, try laying your rights down. Give in. Surrender. Ephesians 5:21-32

When you see the love fading, dig in. Don’t give up. Pray and try

“I cried to thee, O Lord. Prayer is the unfailing resource of God’s people. If they are driven to their wit’s end, they may still go to the mercyseat. When an earthquake makes our mountain tremble, the throne of grace still stands firm, and we may come to it. Let us never forget to pray, and let us never doubt the success of prayer. The hand which wounds can heal: let us turn to him who smites us, and he will be entreated of us. Prayer is better solace than Cain’s building a city, or Saul’s seeking for music. Mirth and carnal amusements are a sorry prescription for a mind distracted and despairing: prayer will succeed where all else fails.” Psalm 30:8 Exposition

When you have wronged your spouse, it’s okay. We all have. Say I’m sorry. A little humility will go a long way. Psalm 38:18

When you are totally sick of each other, go on a dateI’m serious. Reignite the flame. Make each other a priority. You should never stop dating your entire married life. Matthew 19:5

When work creeps in the way or the kids climb to the top of your ladder, prioritize. The best thing you can give your kids is a strong, positive, Christ-like marriage. I was incredibly blessed with this gift from my own parents, who consistently showed my brothers and I the importance of the words, “I do.” And despite the cra-cra of life, they continued to make time for each other. I have watched countless marriages stay together because of the kids and then fall apart as soon as the kids leave home. It kills me. Somewhere along the way, the parents stopped paying attention to each other. The two of you, husband and wife, are the foundation of a family. Work at it because it will pay off. 1 Peter 4:8

When you are struggling, remain hopeful. There is more to marriage than meets the eye. When you are down, your mate is there to pick you up. But in a Godly marriage…there are three cords that are not easily broken: Jesus, your spouse and you.

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Need a new perspective?

Marriage was created by God to teach us more about Him. If we begin to treat our spouse in the same way Jesus treats us…a change will take place. Maybe not a change in our spouse…but certainly a change will take place in us. Ultimately, marriage is all about heart change. Molding us. Transforming us. Making us look more like Him.

What is the best date you have ever been on?