Advice for a Successful Christian Marriage From a Novice (Revised & Updated)
Focus on Christ
On September 11th of this year my wife and celebrated four years of marriage. I have to say this past 4 years have been a blast! Of course like any marriage we have had our ups and downs, we've had a couple heated arguments (seriously, only a couple), we've experienced joy and pain, we've experienced the joy of seeing our two beautiful daughters being born, and we've experienced the scares of diagnosis, and the sadness of losing loved ones. All in all it's been an exciting growing experience.
It's interesting, before I got married I used to hear older couples complain about their marriages. There were guys who had been married for 30 and almost 40 years who tried to talk me out of it, and I even got asked that famous line, " what do you want to get married for?" then they would go on and on about why they wish they would not have gotten married and all of the things they could have had if they would have stayed single. I just want to state publicly, I am so very glad that I did not listen to them. Marriage has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I just want to share some of the things that I think that have made my marriage a successful one thus far.
If you're going to have a successful marriage you must have Christ as the focal point. If you're going to have a successful Christian marriage, Christ has to be involved. When Leslie and I got married, I take that back, before Leslie and I got married we made the decision to invite Christ into our marriage. That means that our marriage has a purpose, when Christ is the focal point of the marriage the purpose of the marriage is to give Him glory. That means that in everything that we do the love of Christ is shown. this doesn't mean that you're always going to be mentioning Christ but it does mean that Christ is seen in the marriage. In conversation, how you speak to your spouse, and in action, how you treat your spouse. This means that no matter what that circumstance is, even if its an argument, your focal point is Christ, His love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Many relationships and marriages are in trouble today simply because they have not invited Christ into the relationship. Some couples argue every single day over the most trivial stuff, sometimes people can't even stand the sight of their spouse or significant other over something that was said or even done. This in no way shows the love of Christ. In relationships neither person is perfect. Each has their own flaws and hang ups that will most likely drive the other person nearly insane (I know there are a lot of things that I do that drive my wife crazy). This is where Christ as the focal point comes in. When you're on the verge of losing it because of something your spouse or significant other has done. Focus on Christ. Realize that there are a lot of things that we do that drive Him crazy (sin), but He still loves us and is willing to forgive us and welcomes reconciliation. After we focus on Christ we need to respond and demonstrate the same behavior that He would towards our spouses and significant others.
If any marriage is going to be successful, Christ needs to be involved. If you haven't invited Christ into your marriage already, do it today...RIGHT NOW.
"Though one man can be overpowered by another two can withstand him, And a threefold cord is not easily broken". (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NKJV.)
Open Lines of Communication
This of course is not an all inclusive list, but the advice given has set a very firm foundation for a good solid marriage. We've already discussed that Christ needs to be the focal point of marriage, meaning that He needs to be involved. When we face those difficult times, be it an argument, or a hardship, we are to focus on Christ and how He cares for us and emulate that same behavior towards our spouse or significant other. Another key aspect for a successful Christian marriage is to have open communication.
Communication is key, without open communication your marriage is almost destined for destruction. There are a lot of marriages that are in trouble simply because spouses will not communicate. In order for a marriage to be successful, wants, needs, and expectations need to be communicated. Before we got married we had the opportunity to take a pre-marital course at our Church. In this course there was a very beneficial exercise that we took part in wherein my wife and I each listed our expectations of our spouse. For example, I listed that I expected my wife to cook, clean and take care of the home. Leslie listed that she expected her husband to work, support the family and do yard work etc. You get the idea. The point is get all of your expectations out on the table so that there are no surprises. This exercise will keep you from having to engage in a lot of unnecessary arguments. Another suggestion for the list, don't be afraid to list your honest expectations about sex. Some people don't like to talk about this but sex and intimacy plays a very crucial role in the marriage.
Get everything out on the table. Be open about where you stand with certain people in your life. If your spouse or significant other asks you a question about your past, don't get offended or upset, just be honest, even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable. Many times the questions are being asked to learn more about you. It may seem that your spouse is digging for information, however answering these questions in my experience has built a stronger and more intimate relationship. A while before Leslie and I got married, I asked a bunch of questions, I mean a bunch. It wasn't because I was digging for information, but I was invested in the relationship and I wanted to know the experiences she had prior to meeting me. As we talked I discovered that we both dealt with some of the same struggles in our past. When I found this out it let me know that I found someone who could relate to me and some of the things that I had gone through in life. Our relationship immediately became stronger. Don't be afraid to show your scars.Communication is a very powerful tool that can be used to keep a lot of mess out of the marriage. Talk about everything, there should be no stone left unturned.
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each other". Colossians 4:6 NKJV
Spend Quality Time
A third suggestion, make sure that you spend quality time with your spouse or significant other.This is very vital to the relationship. Life is busy, no matter if you're working or are in school, or if you're a stay at home Mom or Dad, life in general is busy. We tend to allow life to dictate our pace. We rarely think about it. We get caught up in the day to day activities of work and taking care of home and we forget to foster the relationships that mean the most to us on a daily basis. Before you know it you have gone 2-3 weeks without spending any real quality time with your spouse. What do I mean by quality time? I do not mean being in the same room watching television or reading. I do not mean sitting at the dinner table eating while looking at your cell phone or tablet. Quality time is when your spouse or significant other has your undivided attention. No phone, no books, no technology, not even children. Just you and your spouse, one on one, spending time together. You don't necessarily need to go out, however, I suggest it especially, for stay at home Moms who deal with the babies all day (I feel your pain).
I said it before but it's worth saying again. Quality time is vital to the relationship. It's necessary to spend time with the one you love, often. Spending quality time gives you the opportunity to "check in" with the one you love, to see how they are actually doing in life (have you done that lately?). Most of us keep things bottled up inside, and we need someone to talk to. Some things you can't share with everybody and you need your spouse to be there for you. A benefit that I enjoy and am thankful to God for is a wife that is rooted in the Word. In short, she keeps me in line when I'm out of my head. That's not the only benefit, we actually balance each other and are able to help each other with decisions that we need to make. Other than that, quality time is an opportunity just to hang out with the one you love. My suggestion is to make a schedule, spend some quality time with your spouse or significant other at least once a week.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another...." (Hebrews 10:24&25 NKJV)
Re-evaluate life and adjust to pursue calling
A couple of weeks ago my Wife and I were faced with a business opportunity. In evaluating the opportunity we had to ask ourselves some questions, we were faced with evaluating what we really want to do in this life (we both of course have chosen to focus on our callings). The business opportunity that we were faced with was a good opportunity but it was not in neither one of our areas of calling. So of course after prayer and confirmation we have declined the opportunity. Facing this decision has presented another tip of advice. Sometimes in marriage it is necessary to re-evaluate your life and adjust to pursue calling.
Every marriage should be a purpose-driven marriage. Each spouse should discover their purpose and calling in life and then conform their lives to those callings. Because God is involved in the marriage, usually the callings on each persons lives compliment each other. Conforming to purpose should be rather easy. Every once in a while a couple should take time to ask themselves some questions about where they currently are with their calling. If your lives are no where near where God has called you, you may need to make some adjustments to get headed in the right direction. Sometimes we are presented with some great business opportunities, they may even be very lucrative, we have to remember, just because something is good doesn't mean that its right for you. Sometimes we get off course when we allow good things to distract us from our God thing. There are three questions that you can ask yourself that can help you make the right decision when presented with opportunities:
1.) Does this fit my passion and calling in life?
2.) Do I want to do this for the right reasons? (Money?, Ego? etc.)
3.) Will this opportunity yield the results God expects of my calling in life?
"Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts......" (Romans 14:1 NKJV)
My prayer is that this article brings forth some good fruit in each of your lives so that you can progress and reach to where God has destined each one of your relationships to be. May God bless you and continue to keep your marriages and relationships.
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails". (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a NKJV)