Counselor's Corner: Investing in Your Marriage
If you have been married for any length of time you know that marriage is hard work. As with anything successful in your life putting time and effort are keys to how fruitful those things will be.
Perhaps you did not have the proper role models growing up to show you how to have a successful marriage, but you desire to have a healthy marriage. If God has brought you together with your spouse the greatest investment that you can make besides your relationship with God is your marriage.
Anyone can have a dull, lifeless marriage, but a marriage that is thriving takes certain elements to help it succeed. If you planted some flowers but forgot to fertilize and water those plants they would eventually become lifeless and die. Healthy marriages take the time to nurture and weed out anything hindering their relationship.
Couples striving for a healthy marriage should first ask God to cleanse their hearts of any unforgiveness, anger, resentment or offenses of their spouse. Staying angry or resentful towards your spouse will open doors for division, discord and disunity. Even if there is truly something to be upset with your spouse about, take that matter to God and apply grace believing your spouse did not intentionally try and hurt you.
A commitment for a healthy and successful marriage will take both desiring this. If one couple remains stubborn or prideful then you keep taking your case to God and allow Him to change you while He works on your spouse. Loving someone who is not easy to love is a challenge for most, this is where you will need to daily ask God for Him to help you love your spouse through you because you are not capable of that kind of love.
Living in a loveless marriage where spouses are more like roommates does not happen overnight. Usually over a period of hardships, stress, and the strains of life occur, spouse’s start turning on each other instead of fighting the real culprit-the enemy!
It is possible to get back the flame that you had before with your spouse, but you will need to commit to investing in your marriage.
How to invest in your marriage:
1. Reprioritize- God first and your marriage second. There should be proper order and balance in your marriage such as if you are investing in other relationships over your spouse or if your work comes before your spouse it is time to reprioritize your life.
2. Pray together, read the Word of God together, worship together, and attend church together at least once a week. If you have trouble finding the time to read the Word of God together try shutting the TV off 30 minutes before bed and read a passage or two together and discuss. Complete a marriage Bible study together once a month.
3. Eat at least one meal together every day. Use this time to share a meal, what your highlights were of the day, and refrain from any stressful and heavy topics during this time. Plan for at least 30 minutes of uninterpreted meal time (leave all electronics off and don’t get up to check your phone either).
4. Make quality time for each other not just quantity time. Quantity time is just spending a lot of time together but quality time is focusing on each other, being attentive, and making great memories. Plan at least 2 dates a month with your spouse. Take turns planning the dates. Make some dates fun, some romantic, and some relaxing. Put your dates on your calendar, and do not let interruptions stop you from your dates. Writing your dates down serve as your commitment to your spouse that you will make this time for them no matter what. One rule for date time: NO “hot topics” can be discussed.
5. Have at least 20 minutes a week of open communication this is where you can discuss your hot topics. Pick a day and a time of the week and stick to this as much as possible otherwise life will happen and take over your time. Pray before discussing any hot topics, and pray after each situation that was discussed. To manage your busy time already you can pick a day a week and eat your meal together, pray and worship, do your marriage Bible study and then have your communication time-this should take about 2 hours. Once again if you don’t put it on your calendar it most likely will not happen.
6. Get to know your spouse’s love language (The five love languages by Gary Chapman). Strive to speak your spouse’s love language. For instance, if your spouse’s love language is serving than do something that serves your spouse.
7. Rid your marriage of criticism, faultfinding, blaming, resentment, anger, yelling, name calling, belittling, rudeness, irritability and taking your spouse for granted.
8. Keep your word and your promises. If you said that you were going to do something then make sure that you do that.
9. Keep your eyes, your ears and your body faithful. Do not even give the appearance of being unfaithful. Always be respectful of your spouse whether they are with you or not. Do whatever you need to do so that your spouse feels like they are safe and secure with you. Ask yourself are you building up your spouse or are your eyes rooming lustfully elsewhere? Can your spouse say that you are attracted to them and they walk in that confidence?
10. Don’t neglect your spouse’s sexual needs. Usually this is more important to a man, but a woman also has needs. A man needs to be a desired but so does a woman and she needs to be wooed. A woman’s sexual needs are likened to a slow cooker, and a man’s sexual needs can be compared to a microwave. As women we want more passion than the rough and unrealistic and often grotesque things that are viewed on pornography. Realistically women are not designed to be sex machines, very often because of hormones women are truly only sexually responsive 1-2x per month. But there can be a middle ground because most men can perform whenever, so as woman sometimes we can place his needs above our own. As men you can fulfil what your wife needs at times and that is passion, taking your time, and not role playing what you may have seen in porn.
11. Focus on what is good about your spouse. Write down on one sheet of paper all of your spouse’s good qualities and on another sheet of paper write down all the qualities that you don’t like about your spouse. Burn the second piece of paper. Your marriage will not be successful nor healthy if you are focusing on your spouse’s weaknesses and faults. Be your spouse’s biggest supporter and cheerleader. Your spouse must know you got “their back.”
12. Be more concerned about meeting your spouse’s needs than your own. Become unselfish with your spouse. Put their needs ahead of your own.
13. Laugh together. Have fun together and enjoy the spouse that God gave you.
14. Be your spouse’s best friend, someone they can count one and share life together.
Investing faithfully in the above tips for at least the next 60 days will almost certainly guarantee the start of rebuilding your marriage to thrive and be healthy and successful. You should start to see progress in 30 days. But don’t quit investing in your marriage after 60 days and think,” Now my marriage is good I don’t need to invest anymore.” You will need to make a commitment to stay devoted to investing in your marriage as long as you are married, the 60 days is to form a new habit not give all you can for the next 2 months and then stop.
The Bible says that marriage causes a man and a woman to become “one flesh.” The New Testament adds a warning regarding this oneness: “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Ephesians 5 says a successful marriage both the wife and husband must fulfill certain roles. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the heads of the church” (Ephesians 5:22-23). Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:25&28-29&31).