Marriage is a learning process. I’ve found that no matter how long you’ve been married, or how great your marriage is, there is always something new to learn. Some area that needs improvement, or things to forgive.
Hubby and I are celebrating 41 years today. And to us, it’s a celebration of God’s faithfulness. He has helped us stick together and increased our love. And through all these years of trials and blessings, he has taught us much. And we would not be here today if it were not for these lessons!
7 things we’ve found help build a strong foundation:
One: Kids are really only welcome, temporary guests.
It’s important to love our kids and cherish them. But they’ll be moving on. Our spouse is here to stay. And now that it’s just the two of us, I see even more how important it was to work on keeping communication strong and intimate. Unity is the pivotal foundation.
Two: Everyday there are things to forgive, big and small.
If unity is the foundation, forgiveness is the cement holding it in place. We’ve seen that with lack of forgiveness, the foundation begins crumbling little by little, and often over little things. A certain look, a word blurted out without thinking. Why ruin a lifetime of happiness together over small things? And the big things? With Christ’s help, we can forgive even those, just as we want to be forgiven.
Three: Stop trying to change our spouse. (That’s God’s job.)
Ours is to love them unconditionally, while inspiring them to do better. Encouragement and prayer transforms hearts and minds, and is far more effectual than all the nagging in the world! I try to remember that I loved him enough to marry him just as he was. If I wanted someone different, I should have chosen someone else!
Four: Spend time together.
Happiness is (or should be) marriage to your best friend. So it’s important to take time to find common interests to share and just talk. Especially while children are still in the home, when so many responsibilities eat away at time.
Five: Take time to pray together, and read God’s Word.
As Christ followers, we have learned that prayer and the Bible are the two main things that draw us closer to Christ and make us like him. And the thankful heart this cultivates also makes us ever more grateful for gift we have in our spouse.
Six: Become a giver and not a taker.
Rather than falling into the temptation of thinking about what we want or don’t have, we try to become the one who gives and keeps on giving. To really care about the other’s happiness, and do everything possible to care for and build him or her up.
Seven: Tend finances carefully.
Financial difficulties can bring much stress. So we’ve made a commitment to keeping (or getting) out of debt. And to not spending money we don’t have.
Eight: Find something new to love about your spouse each day.
Just as you are growing and changing, so is your spouse. Look for those new and special surprises and improvements, and let them know you’ve noticed!
But the main thing we remember is that marriage is for keeps. It’s worth keeping and worth the work it takes!