Find me at my new blog!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Make a Marriage Last

Throughout Scripture, I see evidence that God really likes marriage. He came up with the idea in the first place when he created Adam and Eve for each other. Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding. And God used marriage to describe the relationship between Jesus and the body of believers.

God designed marriage to be something that takes people and makes them "one flesh." This is a bond that was never designed to be broken. God actually said in Malachi 2:16, "I hate divorce." God designed marriage to be for life!

How do we make a marriage last that long, though? The current mindset of our society suggests that people aren't even interested in a lifelong marriage. More than half of all couples who marry eventually get divorced (source). Obviously we're doing something wrong if the average marriage has such a short lifespan.

Now, I understand that there are some good reasons to get divorced. Actually, I think there are two: abuse and infidelity. When one spouse hurts the other and/or refuses to remain faithful, it's reasonable for the other spouse to divorce them. (Even in such cases, there can be reconciliation and healing, although that's not always possible.)

But I'm not talking about why a marriage could end. How do we keep that from happening? What can we do to make a marriage last?

I think that in order to keep their marriage strong and healthy for a whole lifetime, couples should avoid making two fatal assumptions: One, that love is a feeling, and two, that marriage is something a husband and wife can do on their own.

Never fall into the trap of thinking that love is a feeling. Attraction is a feeling. Lust is a feeling. Affection is a feeling. Love--real, enduring love--is a choice. It is a decision, and it is a commitment.

Sometimes, on those rare occasions when we're really upset with each other, my husband or I will say to the other, "I love you, but I do not like you very much right now." Love lasts through petty arguments, through financial problems, car breakdowns, difficult pregnancies, whining toddlers, and raising teenagers.

Why?
Because love is NOT something we find within ourselves. Love is a gift from God, and it finds its sole source in him. God loves us SO much that his love flows through us to those around us. John wrote in his first epistle, "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19) We are only able to love each other because God loves us!

Furthermore, we are able to continue loving others because God gives us the ability to do so. Not only did he set an example for us of what love is, he gives us the strength to love because that is something that pleases him (Philippians 4:13).

We do not look to ourselves or our spouse for the strength to keep loving them, including during those times when they don't deserve it or aren't acting loving toward us. We look to God, who knows our needs, hears our prayers, and continues to fill us with his love.

This brings me to the second trap: never think that your marriage is something you and your spouse can do well on your own. A marriage should always be a team of three: you, your spouse, and God. Remember, God created marriage and designed it to last, and he wants your marriage to last a lifetime!

He is willing and able to give you and your spouse the tools you need to build a solid, lasting marriage. Those tools, gifts from him, are numerous (patience, wisdom, kindness, a sense of humor, etc.), but besides love, I think the most important is forgiveness.

As God gives us the ability to love, he also enables us to forgive. True forgiveness is only possible when we realize that we have been forgiven. My husband and I are both sinners for whom Jesus died. He has forgiven our sins, and paid the price for the sins of the whole world. Now that we have been forgiven, we can forgive one another. No sin we commit against each other is bigger than the ones Jesus has already forgiven us for!

So how do you make a marriage last? Look to Jesus. Find in him a love that is so incredible it will flow from him, to you, and to your spouse. Realize that he has forgiven you of every wrong thing you ever did or will do, and realize that he gives you the ability to forgive as you have been forgiven. Make him the center of your marriage--let everything in your life find its focus in Christ. It's with his love, forgiveness, strength, and grace that you can build a marriage that will last a lifetime.


Linking with Messy Marriage, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, To Love, Honor and Vacuum

30 comments:

  1. Great reflection on marriage and the work of Christ in our lives and relationships, Jaimie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Love--real, enduring love--is a choice. It is a decision, and it is a commitment."

    Love this! I am not married but I am in a relationship which I hope becomes a marriage one day... :) And I will also remember that phrase!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep that in mind. Marriage needs to be focused on Jesus and entered into with determination to make it last! Blessings to you!! :)

      Delete
  3. This is great advice. I love that you point out it is a choice. There are even Christian marriages that break up so divorce is real in many realms these days. Everyone has struggles in their marriage. There are so many that are on the brink of divorce. Some heal and stay together. When marriages are on the rocks, I love giving people "The Love Dare". Love the simplicity and honesty of that book. It points out scriptures and gives great advice. Thanks for posting.

    Jill@CalledToBeAMom.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That book is fantastic. What a great gift to bless couples with! And yes, you're right. Even Christians need this reminder...hence my writing it, partly for my OWN benefit and reminder! :)

      Delete
  4. You are exactly right when you say that love is a choice. It is a commitment to the other person through good and bad. Great insights in this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! "For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health..." :)

      Delete
  5. thanks for the reflection. it is true. love is a choice

    ReplyDelete
  6. This was a truly lovely post and it was very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! And thanks for commenting :)

      Delete
  7. Nice way to think this through. To me marriage is a definite commitment, and lust is totally different that love.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's too bad that so many marriages end in divorce. And you're right, a marriage is not easy, it definitely takes work. We are working on our marriage all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. It's just now how marriage was designed to work. We are working on ours constantly too! It's a work in progress. I'm just thankful that God is working with us! :)

      Delete
  9. A lot od wise words, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    I agree when you say it's not a feeling but, if I had known that when I was 16, maybe I would have made different choices!!!
    MammaNene @ SergerPepper

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah, I think more people need to learn that a lot sooner.

      Delete
  10. You've written so beautifully! The real definition of love! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. So true. I will remember this when I get married. " love is a feeling, and two, that marriage is something a husband and wife can do on their own." So many people make these assumptions. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I like what you say about love being a choice, you have to make that choice every day to make a marriage really last. Excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And it's a choice I make, but the action is something I'm enabled to do by Christ. It's only through his power, love and grace that I can continue to love my husband. :)

      Delete
  13. I'm a newlywed and I really appreciate your advice. Marriage and the choice of love are definitely harder than a lot of people think. Not impossible though, with God's help.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love is a choice ... I like that...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much for your honesty. I really enjoyed reading your article. My husband and I have been married for over 15 years and Christ is the center of our marriage which is very important and what keeps our marriage strong. Also knowing my spouse's "Love Language" has been helpful as well. If you haven't heard about the 5 love languages, I would strongly suggest you look into it. It started out as a book and now they have their own website where you can go and take a test to see what your love language is. Thanks again for your article. Very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much for your honesty. I really enjoyed reading your article. My husband and I have been married for over 15 years and Christ is the center of our marriage which is very important and what keeps our marriage strong. Also knowing my spouse's "Love Language" has been helpful as well. If you haven't heard about the 5 love languages, I would strongly suggest you look into it. It started out as a book and now they have their own website where you can go and take a test to see what your love language is. Thanks again for your article. Very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your thoughts and opinions!