Build on the Rock of Christ
For those who are not in a marriage yet, they have the responsibility and opportunity to make a wise decision and to seek a man or woman after God’s own heart. If their own hearts are sold out to the Lord’s ways and purposes, and if they marry someone else of a like mind and spirit, then they will have the potential to have a great and fulfilling marriage. Sadly, many have been betrayed by a spouse or have chosen a spouse that does not mesh with what Scripture says is good and right. Some marry for sex, some for money, some for security, and some to please somebody else. However, a marriage founded upon the Rock is a marriage that can last and provide fulfillment unto death do us part.
Be the Spouse that God Wants You to Be
It is easy to get in a blame game over who is responsible for the struggles in a marriage. I can’t say how many times I have had Christians, even Christians in church leadership, tell me that marriage will rapidly go downhill after the first months or years together. Marriage is a two way street. It requires investments from both parties. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 explains that each spouse belongs to the other spouse. In other words, both are expected by God to see to it that they are doing what they can to meet the needs of the other spouse. The men need to be godly leaders, and the women need to treat their husbands respectfully, submitting to them. Men need to treat their wives with tenderness, affection, attention, love, and gentleness. We need to do what we can to make the marriage all that God wants it to be whether the other spouse is fully on board with us or not.
Showcase Unconditional Love
In a marriage, when two imperfect people live together, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise and failures will take place. We need to bear with one another in love, being tenderhearted and forgiving each other. When we sin against one another, we must go and ask forgiveness, repenting of our sin before God. When a spouse repents, we need to not keep a record of wrongs or guilt trip them but thank them and accept them unconditionally. How many times must we forgive? As long as a person is sincerely repentant, we must forgive as many times as needed.
Stay in Constant and Humble Communication
Disagreements will happen in marriage, but they do not have to become arguments. Arguments are selfish ways of handling conflict in that they allow the flesh to get involved. When people argue, it is more of a fight and power struggle to show who is in charge or who is right and who is wrong. When communication is humble, gentle, straightforward, and gracious, then honest hurts and feelings can be expressed, processed, understood, and responded to. Arguments just make things worse and create barriers. Yelling or having outbursts of anger is way in the danger zone. Such a person is very poor at being able to relate to others, hear another side, or own up to his or her own failure, whatever the case might be. We are to be sensible and temperate, quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). This is the Biblical model of communication. In fact, the Bible assumes that communication is going on. To not talk is to basically violate the marriage covenant in that it really annihilates the unity that should be there. A healthy marriage has a lot of talking about mundane issues and day to day issues, not just the heavy issues. Intimacy in marriage requires a sharing of the little things and doing life together, even in the monotonous and seemingly insignificant things. A godly marriage bears with the weaknesses of the other spouse, doesn’t get angry, talks peacefully about the issues, receives the correction humbly, and encourages the other on to good deeds.
Steward the Spiritual Aspect
If the foundation of the marriage is Christ and His Word, then there needs to be a point of studying God’s Word, reading it, and discussing it. Prayer together as a husband and wife is crucial and should flow naturally out of day to day events, conversations, and burdens. There should be a commitment to a local body of Christ and local believers as much as is possible. Being able to process through spiritual things together is a great help in an enduring marriage.
Have a Shared Financial Plan
How a husband and wife use their money speaks volumes about where they are at spiritually. They should talk about finances together, have a plan and mutual understanding, and discuss major expenses before making them. Having separate finances is generally not conducive to unity.
Make Time for Romance
If there are outstanding conflicts and unresolved issues present, romance will be hard to come by. If the communication lines are open and deposits of kind and loving words and actions are being made, then romance will be inevitable, as long as husband and wife determine to set aside some time to be with one another. Sending an email from work, calling home, sending flowers, buying a nice card, writing a little note, and telling your spouse how beautiful she is or how wonderful he is keeps the fire hot, not to mention the marriage alive. What is the fun is keeping grudges, in complaining, in criticizing, and in playing the game of marriage? Some people seem to enjoy fighting with each other. Satan tries to wedge his way in little by little, a compromise here, a lack of confession there, and misplaced priorities there. The spouse must know that he or she is more important than work, sports, hobbies, children, and so on. That must be evident. Intentional acts and words of love, kindness, and affection are also crucial. Men must not forget the little things, like opening the door for the wife, stroking her hair, putting an arm around her, holding her hand, and giving her the attention she needs. Wives must not forget to tell their husbands that they do well in leading the home and in caring for them. They need to know that they have the respect of their wives, and not nagging them or ordering them around goes a long way in that regard.