17 years ago, we exchanged sacred vows with each other. It’s never been perfect, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We dated 4 1/2 years before we walked the aisle and said, “I Do.” Of course, dating and being married are two totally different things. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that are critical to any marriage thriving.
1. Commitment Matters. Too many get married with the option of divorce in mind. We’ve never made it an option. We both meant what we said then and mean it even more now.
2. God’s Grace Is Required. Tests will come your way as early as the honeymoon. Without divine intervention and Christ leading both of you, your marriage will not last and for sure never thrive.
3. Love is an action verb. Please read (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). My wife taught me this one. It wasn’t until about 8-10 years into our marriage that I started realizing my actions will always speak louder than my words.
4. Satan will attack. You have an enemy that does not want your marriage to succeed. Stay on your knees, keep your guard up, and keep fighting with God on your side. Satan will constantly look for ways to not only just disrupt, but his goal is to destroy your marriage.
5. Keep Investing. We often reap what we sow in any relationship. Marriage is no different. The grass is only greener where you water it. Keep dating and keep looking for ways to position your relationship to be healthy.
6. Study Your Spouse. You will never get your masters degree, but you have to keep learning your spouse’s love language. Listen with your heart and ears. Discover what makes them hurt, what makes them smile, and how you can better communicate your love to them.
7. Learn How To fight. You’re going to disagree and you’re gonna have bad days. You have to learn how to control yourself, talk through your differences, and get outside help when necessary.
8. You Don’t Have To Be Right. Too often we just want the other person to hear our side and think like us. Seek more to understand than to be understood.
9. Communication Is Critical. In the beginning all you see is rainbows and butterflies. But, if you live with anyone long enough you’ll reach a breaking point. We have to keep learning how to communicate and live with each other in an understanding way.
10. F.I.D.O. (Forget It & Drive On) Don’t harbor bitterness inside. Don’t hold yesterday against each other. Forgive, let the past be the past, and love as God loves you.
11. Don’t Follow The Crowd. The average marriage is a total wreck. Not just because it’s two imperfect people, but so many don’t approach marriage with the right perspective. Many have unhealthy boundaries, a fairy tale mindset, and ingredients that will lead to divorce. Don’t follow the crowd, follow God’s word.
12. You Need Cheerleaders. You always need people in your life that love you, know you, and care enough about you to speak into your life. Too many try to be lone rangers. Due to pride, most don’t hear about their marital struggles until things completely fall apart. Surround yourself with the right people and seek wise counsel.
13. Make Time For Each Other. There will always be things and other people fighting for your attention. You have to make your marriage a top priority in your life. Seriously, above the kids, your career, and any hobby you may enjoy. If you don’t make time for them, someone will. No one gets married to spend life alone.
14. Marriage is work. Marriage will always be a work in progress. Keep listening, keep learning, and keep asking God to show you ways things can improve.
15. Only Christ Unites. Often opposites attract. The uniting factor is not what movies or music you like. Both of you need to be seeking God’s will and looking to God’s word for direction. He will not only lead you together, but make your relationship stronger.
16. Prayer Works. Keep your knees dirty and keep praying for your marriage. It doesn’t take long for things to quickly spiral out of control. But, with God’s strength and help you can make it through anything.
17. It Gets Better With Time. Marriage done God’s way will only improve over time. I can honestly tell you that I love my wife more now than before. Our marriage is way stronger today than years ago. When you choose to grow together, learn from your past, and continue to walk in God’s love your relationship just gets sweeter with time. You learn over time that love is much more than a feeling, but a continuous daily choice to love each other for better or worse.
I pray this encourages some married couple whether you just recently got married or been married for years. If you don’t have a church home, come join me Sundays 10:30a.m. @ the Colleton Rec Center. Not only will Refuge change the way you think about church. The hour you spend with us will encourage marriage.