Three Secrets To Making and Keeping Your Marriage Strong
I’ll be the first to admit I walked down the aisle with my rose-colored glasses solidly adhered to my face. They all said, You’ve waited so long, I’m sure God has brought you someone incredibly ‘special.’
I liked that. He was special. He would surely make me happy.
It wasn’t long after the honeymoon the rose-colored glasses began to fade and the image I had for my marriage shattered under the weight of unrealized and perhaps unrealistic expectations.
I cried. I was certain God had made a mistake because this man was so different from me. Extrovert vs. introvert. Strong vs. insecure. Logical vs. emotional. Surely there was no way to make one flesh out of these two broad, uncommon souls.
Yet that was precisely what God designed our marriage to accomplish. To hammer away, to find a holy rhythm to the push-pull of this awkward, confining yoke. To learn to yield our offenses (and defenses, too) to the One whose hands ultimately guide the plow.
Marriage is the most sacred of pilgrimages. It is the tool God uses to form us into His image, if we will but surrender to its purpose and calling for our lives as individuals.
With divorce as common as a winter cold, it left me perplexed and undone to find the means to secure this covenant. There must be a better way, I prayed.
We struggled. We stubbed our toes. We felt the clumsiness of trying to step together. In the middle of it all, my husband and I have found (and are continually finding) a slow, comfortable cadence in this thing called marriage. We’ve dug deep, read much, and are cultivating something solid, enduring, and strangely beautiful.
Here are three secrets we’ve found to make a marriage strong for the long haul.
Focus more energy on becoming the person God wants you to be than on who you think God wants your spouse to be.
Surrender is a gift of freedom—surrendering control of my spouse’s journey, surrendering all of my expectations for who they should become as well as who I desire them to be for me.
Surrender unleashes God to do the kind of soul-surgery only He can do and frees me to focus on the surgeon’s scalpel at work rooting out the bitter, diseased, cancerous tissue in my own heart so that new tender, living cells can grow into His likeness.
We quietly ask, Who will be my spouse’s savior? Who will be their Holy Spirit?
Will it be us, or will it be the only One who saves, who redeems, who teaches, corrects, and transforms each of us?
Focusing on our journey with Christ brings us into communion with Him as we discover His healing, His passion and purpose for our lives, and puts our mate in God’s trusted and caring hands.
Only then can we look up, enjoy, and fall in love with the person God has given us to walk with through this life. To love. To cheer. To cry with. To believe in. To journey. Together. (exhale.)
Spend as much time noticing the positive as you do ruminating on the negative.
Research shows that it takes five positive thoughts/statements to overcome one negative thought or statement. The pull towards criticism is the easiest yet cruelest addiction we must fight against—if we want our relationship to survive, if we want tender sprigs of mutual kindness, respect, and love to grow.
We can acknowledge a complaint. Healthy couples are adept at speaking, addressing, and working through specific issues throughout their relationship.
Still, the enemy will whisper ever so quietly criticisms about our mate that we allow to steal into our hearts and take over any love, admiration, affection, or positive regard we have for them. Before we know it, we are spiraling in a wave of bleak, resentful ruminations that distort our perceptions of the present and leave us without hope for our future.
Notice the good things. Give thanks for the qualities and characteristics that are strengths. Journal the daily moments, tasks, gifts, that you admire. Pray over them. Pray for blessing and anointing in their lives. Offer a prayer of gratitude.
Psalm 19:14 (NIV) says, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight.
Continue to discover your mate.
So many of us get married and act like our spouse is a book that has been studied, tested, and closed. We lose our sense of wonder. We finish sentences without ever asking a question. We judge. Mercilessly.
We forget the gentle curiosity that drew us into their orbit in the first place. Our spouses are each a vast and unknown terrain that we can spend a lifetime exploring, discovering new glances, meanings, dreams that are being birthed each and every day.
Have you forgotten how to ask questions of your spouse? Open-ended questions? Curious questions?
Sit back and listen. Take it all in. Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. It will bless your marriage.
Our marriages can be rich places for us to find strength, comfort, and encouragement on our healing paths. As we allow more compassion and grace to grow between us, we can face the most desolate seasons of life with confidence.
Ours is a journey of day-to-day beginnings. Learning to whisper our affection on the back porch as the grey sky begins to bend toward charcoal night. Becoming lost in a laughter that is the hidden language between us.
I am learning to relinquish my need to know the end of the story, and am discovering new ways to lean into and enjoy the dance.
About This Community
Don't we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that - a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I've discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155392891