No one has ever decided to one day run a marathon and then just go out and do it! It takes months of daily work and training to be able to finish 26.2 miles. Just as no one ever woke up and decided they wanted their marriage to be better and poof, it was better. Marriage takes work, it takes daily commitment. It is the little things we do on a daily basis that can bring about the change we want in our marriage. Love is work, it is a decision we make to love someone. Love is an action, not a feeling. Here are 5 things needed on a daily basis in marriage. If done consistently they can transform your marriage.
1. Pray for your spouse daily.
Pray for their well being and protection. Thank God for them and see them as a gift from Him. Pray that God will bless them and give them what they need. Pray for their struggles and weaknesses. Pray that they will find God’s purpose for their lives and fulfill that purpose. When you begin to pray for your spouse this way, you will begin to see them though God’s eyes and you will become a better listener, more attentive to their needs and struggles.
2. Always assume the best about your spouse.
What I mean by that is don’t assume the worst in them. If they say something that could be interpreted in a good way or neutral or bad way, always assume they meant it in a good way. Don’t assume you know what is going on in their head. Try to see things from their perspective. Remember that your spouse is not perfect and by the way, neither are you! They have good and bad days and struggles just as we all do. Take the high road!
3. Use your words to build up, not tear down.
Words are powerful. What we say can create an atmosphere of love and respect and security or they can create hostility, anger and hurt. Think of something positive and encouraging to say to your spouse everyday. Let them know what a good parent they are to your kids. Tell your husband how much you appreciate the work he does to provide for the family. Find the good in your spouse and speak it. Men, when was the last time you told your wife she was pretty? If you can’t remember, it has been too long. I tell guys all the time, “You can tell my wife she is pretty, it will not mean anything to her because I have already told her today!” Never put your spouse down in front of others. If you have an issue, discuss it in private. Remember, words are powerful and will either build up or tear down your marriage!
4. Find something to do for your spouse.
Ask yourself the question each day, “What can I do today for my spouse that shows them I love them?” Then do it. It may be as simple as emptying the dishwasher, washing the car, or cleaning out the garage. It could be a hug. Learn what your spouse’s love language is and speak that language through your actions. There is a great book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages that will help you discover their language (and yours).
5. Spend quality time with your spouse.
We live in a fast paced world. We are always busy. We want things now, but you cannot microwave a marriage. In most homes, both spouses have a career to juggle along with kids and all the activities they have. It is easy to spend all our time running around and lose sight of our marriage relationship. We want our kids to have all the experiences we didn’t, but what is more important than experiences is relationships. Have dinner together as a family, with no TV on and no cell phones. Take your wife out on a date. Have a conversation without the distractions of the world. If you don’t make it a priority, it will not happen. Set aside daily time to talk to your spouse.
It is the little daily things we do in our marriage that bring the biggest results. Just as a marathon runner trains daily in order to complete a race. Marriage is a marathon and we must put in the work and time each and every day. This does not mean you will never have struggles or hard times, but if you have invested everyday in your marriage with these things, when the storm comes, you will be able to withstand it and even grow through it. Wake up each day and choose to love your spouse no matter how you feel. Choose love!
Several years ago my wife and I lived in small town rural Arkansas at the first church I pastored. Our oldest son, Josh, was about 3 and one Wednesday night as our Bible study ended I was sitting in my office just off the front door. To the left was a short hallway that had the ladies restroom in it and at the end the one room nursery. As the last few people were leaving I saw out of the corner of my eye Josh go down the hallway, no doubt to play in the nursery. About five minutes later having finished a few last minute things, I got up to leave. I immediately went down the short hallway to get Josh, only he was not there. I then looked in the ladies restroom and again, no Josh. As I came back up the hallway I asked my wife if she had seen him, she too had been looking for him. My heart rate immediately went up and a feeling of dread and worry came over me. Both of us began looking in each room in the building, calling out his name. After searching every corner I hit the front door at a dead run. The church was situated way too close to a state highway where cars sped by well in excess of the posted 55 MPH speed limit. I ran around the entire building frantically calling his name; again, no Josh. As I came running back into the building with tears in my eyes reaching for the phone to call 911something told me to look one more time in that ladies restroom. This time as I opened the door, I looked behind it and there stood my son with the biggest smile on his face, no doubt in his mind thinking he was doing so well at his impromptu game of hide and seek! I swept him up in my arms as a rush of emotions ran across me. Joy! Relief! There was no way I could be mad. My son who was lost, was found!
Do you think that is how God feels when one of His is found? I do. If you read the scriptures you will see in Luke 15 Jesus talking about the heart of God toward sinners. He first appeals to all the men in the crowd by saying, “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?” And all the men nodded in agreement. But then he says something unexpected in verse 7, “I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…” Here Jesus uses the same word “sinner” that was used in verse 1 when he was accused of hanging out with “sinners”. He then appeals to all the women in the crowd by saying, “Or what woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?” And all the women nod in agreement. By the way, this was not what we think. She did not just lose pocket change. The silver coin was one of ten that made up the wedding necklace. It was of great value to her. You could say, “Or what woman who loses her wedding ring…” I have heard of walls being ripped out and plumbing cut to find a wedding ring! Then again Jesus finishes with the joy in heaven when one sinner repents.
And in case we still don’t get it, He says, “A man had two sons…” What a story! The younger wanted his inheritance and wanted it now. He left the father’s house, wasted all of it, found himself destitute (this is where we all are without God) and finally comes to himself and realizes that his father treats his servants better than he has it. So he goes home, all the while rehearsing his speech. (What father in their right mind would forgive and restore any son who did what he did.) He would only ask to become a servant. But wait!!! As he is still a ways from home his father sees him, runs to him, embraces him and immediately restores his found son. He then throws a party. No lecture, no “I told you so”, no conditions!! Just restoration and forgiveness.
That is God’s heart! That is grace! And it is offered freely through faith in Jesus!!!
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB