Today is my 6th wedding anniversary.
I am happy and I am married, and one is not because of the other. Just kidding, I am actually happily, no, joyfully married.
My husband (my very best buddy) and I have such a good thing going. At a time where divorce rates are skyrocketing, I am happy to testify that marriage can be God-honoring, and life-enhancing.
Before you think it has all been matrimonial bliss for me, let me comfort you. I felt buyer’s remorse immediately after we tied the knot, and the tears I cried at my wedding were of panic, not of joy. A few months before my wedding, I discovered my husband had quite a temper (not violent!). I wanted to call the wedding off but I went ahead with it because I was not courageous.
My husband’s temper and my know-it-all attitude made the first years of our marriage witness some intense quarrels. We had our first fight right during our honeymoon one week after the wedding. I am sharing these to say this: there is hope! Christ’s redeeming love changes our hearts, our character and our marriage. Here’s what helps us build a thriving marriage:
- Jesus at the Center
Putting Christ at the center of our individual lives and marriage means that we choose to obey God’s commands above any other influence including family tradition, feelings and popular culture. The word of God is the supreme arbiter in any decision we make. Jesus commands that you love your neighbor as you love yourself. I can’t think of a closer neighbor than one’s spouse. I love God more than I love my husband, so pleasing God is more important to me than being right. Practically, this means imbibing behaviors that are pleasing to God like meekness, humility, joy, and peacemaking, etc.
- A No-Divorce Commitment
Because we are Christians, we both believe that divorce is a tearing of an eternal bond that God forms through a marriage. So we committed to never consider divorce. This commitment forces us to seek other means of reconciliation when we have issues threatening to disintegrate us.
- Reduced Expectations
I have learnt that I can’t rely on my husband to provide things that only God can supply, such as meaning, joy, and fulfillment. By taking these God-sized expectations off your spouse, you are free to accept whatever they are able to give you as a bonus. A spouse’s affection is only the cherry on top of the sundae that one’s life is. The responsibility for filling your cup with sundae is on God and yourself.
4. Cultivate Friendship
Accomplishing anything worthwhile requires intentionality and consistency. A marriage does not become flourishing by chance. You have to be intentional about investing resources in it. Some of the best investments we make in our marriage include spending time daily to really talk (Tip: turn off the TV and your phones), going on dates regularly, taking a walk together at every chance we get, and listening to resources about family life.
5. Communicate Ceaselessly
The best marriage advice I ever got is that “nothing should be off the table when it comes to communication”. I mean nothing! Communicate about money, sex, in-laws, work, temptations, failures, dreams, fears, health, childcare, challenges….. (Fill in the blank). That way, you get to know each other well, and learn the best way to support each other. Communication also gives you an opportunity to build consensus, and agree on your values, because chances are that you have plenty differences in opinions and preferences.
6. Recognize the Real Enemy
The real enemy in marriage is selfishness, not your spouse. No matter what happens, you and your spouse are on the same team. The main tool for overcoming selfishness is unconditional love. Love your spouse, no matter what! Soon, you’ll see that love overcomes all things.
In sum, marriage is a good thing. Marriage is like having a permanent best friend. Your spouse is a human safety net in all life’s challenges. As Bebo Norman sang “When you’ve got a good thing, don’t let go”. Selfless love is the tool that helps you keep holding on.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”– 1st Corinthians 13; 7-8, NLT.
I pray for a strong marriage and healthy family for you.