Today, I have been married for 27 years. Together, my wife Josi and I have survived raising three children that were an average of 18 months apart, life in Japan, Colorado and New Mexico. We have served together in ministry and so much more. Over the years we have learned a lot, and I wanted to share the 7 Tips for a Successful Marriage. These tips are by no means a complete list, but I thought you might benefit from a few of the things we got right.
1. Choose to Love. Love is a choice we make every day. More divorces are caused by statements such as, “We just fell out of love.” or “We just grew apart and didn’t have those ‘feelings’ anymore”. The problem we tend to have is that we confuse sexual attraction with true love. Love is certainly not an emotion, it is a choice to live by.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
2. Deny Yourself. If you want a successful marriage you must put the needs of your spouse above the needs of yourself, bottom line. There is no place for selfishness in a successful marriage. Yet, one of the more common sayings is, “I need room for me.” I will say that time away will help your marriage as long as it is healthy time away, but don’t over do it.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. -Philippians 2:3-4
3. Don’t Stay Angry. Some couples fuss and fight and other do not fight too much. Does this mean that one has a bad marriage and the other has a good one? Not necessarily. Everyone handles conflict differently. As long as you are not abusive to one another, you should work through your differences. For some shouting may be involved for others it is a more quiet affair of the back and forth discussion of the issues. However you strive together, remember that you should not end things being angry.
If you have not resolved your conflict, you should still find a way to go to bed without anger. Unresolved anger and disagreements only fester and leave a root of bitterness that can destroy a marriage.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27
4. Cut Divorce Out of Your Dictionary. When I proposed to my wife, I told her that divorce was not an option. This is a chosen frame of mind. If we enter into marriage with the understanding that divorce is not available except in adultery, we are forced to find a solution to the problem. Josi and I literally cut divorce out of our family dictionary. Years later when my oldest son was doing a homework project, he brought me the dictionary and asked why there was a hole. This was a great opportunity to explain our commitment to our children.
“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” -Malachi 2:16
5. Husbands Bless Your Wives. We overlook something so simple as a blessing. Husbands and wives have different roles in the marriage, but they are important components in the success of that marriage. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Jesus blessed his bride and spoke life into His church and husbands should do the same for their wives and their children. This is a straight forward thing to do. Lay your hands on your wife’s head and pray a blessing from the Lord on her. Also, declare your intention to remain faithful to her and ask the Lord to help you to fulfill your vow. The power of such an act cannot be over emphasized.
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. -Luke 24:50-51
6. Choose Kind Words. This tip is sometimes easier said than done (or said). Choosing words of life that build up rather than tear down can dramatically effect the success of a marriage. This is a choice that we make on how to speak to our spouses.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1
7. Pray and Worship Together. There is a saying, “The couple that prays together, stays together.” It is true. When we are equally yoked, as Jesus puts it, we can experience unity in marriage because we have unity in prayer and worship. This is an area that many couples struggle. If one spouse attends church and is involved in church activities, and the other is not, the marriage suffers. Division in one’s spiritual life extends to the rest of one’s life. Of course, this choice is better made at the beginning before marriage is even considered.
Couples who already agree in their faith should consider a regular time of prayer. They should also make a commitment to attend regular worship together and regular in-depth bible study to ensure spiritual maturity.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?-2 Corintians 6:14
There you have it. Again, this list of tips is not exhaustive, but it is a starting point to build a more successful marriage.
May the Lord bless your marriage as you strive to live for Him.