Word of Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner Strategies for a Strong Marriage
If you have been married for any length of time, you have come to realize that marriage is hard work. A good marriage does not happen on its own, but with a lot of hard work, commitment, and dedication. Research shows that Christian marriages are failing just as much as non-believers who are married. I believe marriages and families are under attack, and understanding some key strategies to preventing a failed marriage is imperative. A marriage does not have to go through a divorce to fail, but when one or both partners “give-up,” and basically become roommates that marriage is also in danger of a failing.
A lot of different matters can hinder a good marriage such as wayward children, difficult family members, busy schedule, financial strain, and a host of other factors that can compete for your marriage. I believe that everyone, when they initially get married has great intentions to stay together, but many soon realize that the strain of life can tear apart even the strongest marriage.
How then can a marriage stay strong during the trails of life?
7 strategies for a strong marriage:
1. Place God first. This strategy cannot be underestimated. A marriage where God is not center is headed for disaster. Pray together daily and for each other’s needs. Let your spouse hear you praying for them. Have weekly time where you are getting into the Word of God together, worshiping together, and thanking God for your blessings. If you are married to a non-believer than you pray over your spouse and marriage and be an example of the light of Christ to your spouse.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
2. Place your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. Think about what your spouse needs and then meet that need. Do they need encouragement, quality time with you, a listening ear, or perhaps respect?
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
3. Be an encourager and focus on the good in your spouse. Be aware of the danger of being critical or a fault-finder. Tell your spouse what is good about them, and refrain from nagging, criticizing (even if you believe you are helping), and belittling. There is no room for name-calling and shaming our spouses. Seek to build-up your spouse and look for ways to let them know what they do right. If you are criticizing your spouse more than encouraging them you will damage their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
4. Do not let anyone or anything come between your marriages, or be more important than your marriage. If you place your children ahead of your spouse or your extended family it can place a wedge between you and your spouse. We can also place our jobs, ministry, and other activities ahead of our marriage. This strategy also includes emotional affairs, pornography, lusting after other people, and adultery. Keep your eyes pure for your spouse.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Mark 10:9
5. Communicate daily. Communicate does not mean just talking, it means listening to each other and responding what you have heard the other saying. When we communicate with our spouses it is important to give our undivided attention, use body language that says I care and I am listening, and remove all distractions during that time such as a cell phone. Having 20 minutes of daily communication is important so that connection and unity is maintained. If 20 minutes of daily communication is not feasible than most certainty dedicate one day a week for open and honest communication.
Pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and helping to the bones. Proverbs 25:11
6. Have regular date nights. Having at least 2 date nights per month is a great start. Make sure you put your date night on your calendar, and take turns with your spouse planning your date nights. Don’t let anything interfere with regular date time. You must guard your time with your spouse and learn to have fun together. Date nights or days don’t have to be complicated, a nice stroll on the beach followed by desert. Use your date time to laugh, enjoy, and most importantly stressful topics need to off limits. Plan staycations and even one or two nights away at least every other month (this can count as your date time).
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. Proverbs 5:18
7. Don’t hold grudges, offenses, or resentments. Nothing will destroy a marriage more than holding onto offenses and being resentful of your spouse. If your spouse has done something to destroy your trust, or has hurt you in some way; go to God and ask Him to help you love and forgive your spouse.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Having a strong marriage takes work. Some say a marriage is like having a full-time job. The enemy does not want healthy marriages, and will seek to destroy a godly marriage. Your first and best defense for your marriage is praying, and seeking God together and individually.