Friday, July 13, 2018

12 Steps to a Happy Marriage

"There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship,  communion, or company than a good marriage." Martin Luther 
Today Robert and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary.  We were married on Friday the 13th  and this is only the 7th time our anniversary has fallen on a Friday.   I thought it would be fitting to post this piece I wrote for Out of the Ordinary  a couple of years ago.
Since there are no perfect people, there are no perfect marriages.   But God has been gracious to us and here’s some things we've learned along the way.

 A happy Christian marriage must be a Christ centered marriage. If you are a single Christian and have considered marrying someone who is not a believer please read 2 Cor.6:14.    Following Christ faithfully as a couple will help to guard against temptations that can destroy a marriage.

2. CHERISH GOD’S WORD.  “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11 
Always hold God’s Word in the highest regard. The Bible is God's revealed Word and is without error. It is the way God communicates with us and is completely sufficient to guide us in all matters pertaining to godly living. 2 Tim. 3:16. Read it. Memorize it. Saturate your mind with sound doctrine. Test everything in life against it.

3. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.  “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 
Susannah Wesley, mother of the beloved hymnist Charles Wesley, had 19 children, nine of which died in infancy. She was noted for her fervent prayer life but finding a quiet place for her was impossible. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop her and her children knew it was time to be quiet when she threw her apron over her head to pray.  
4. STAY IN CHURCH. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 
Plug into a good Bible teaching church and be faithful to honor the Lord’s Day by gathering with His people. Don’t get flaky about this. Too many Christians allow sports, recreation, or a bad church experience to sabotage their corporate worship. If you have children it is essential that they understand not only the Gospel and sound doctrine, but why Sunday worship takes priority.
5. THE "S" WORD.   “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” Ephesians 5:22-23 
Marriage is depicted as a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church and is said to be a great mystery. Wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands as the church submits to Christ and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Both commands are tall orders, right?  Showing mutual love and respect for one another is essential to any happy marriage.

6. KINDLE THE ROMANCE.  Like the warmth of a cozy fire, love also needs to be regularly rekindled.  Keep the marriage bed alive.    Guard your affections for one another like a hawk.   And never stop dating each other. Even when you're broke as a joke most of us can still scrape up a buck to get a cone at the Golden Arches. Some of our sweetest dates have been sitting in the car with ice cream watching the sunset.

7. A WORD ABOUT THE KIDS.   It goes without saying, if God gives us children they are a great blessing and we are responsible to train them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We are all bound to make some fumbles, but one big mistake I've seen well meaning parents do is to create a child-centered home—one where everything revolves around the children's interests. This is true for both married and single parents. Children will have a greater sense of security and be better prepared to face the world when they understand they are not the center of the universe. And we will also be better prepared for the empty nest.

8. FORGIVE QUICKLY.  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32    
Recognizing that we are just two wretched but forgiven sinners on this pilgrim journey together really helps when we blow it. We are all in need of compassion and forgiveness every day. I’ve tried to make a habit of never going to bed angry, but I know it's not always easy to do.

9. DON’T EXPECT THE IMPOSSIBLE.  I don’t know how other wives feel, but I’ve had to resist expecting more from my husband than I should. Regardless of how knowledgeable in the Scriptures or how kind our husbands may be, they are not perfect and can NEVER fill the need for us that only Christ can fill. I love what Ruth Bell Graham said: 
“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain”
10. CULTIVATE GODLY FRIENDSHIPS.   “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20 
This is so important. God has blessed us with many wonderful Christian friends over the years who have encouraged us and sharpened us spiritually. Like my mom used to say, “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Who we hang out with will have a big impact on how we think and how we treat our spouse.

11. TRUST GOD IN THE STORMS.  “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:2  
A healthy marriage will endure the whole gamut of troubles including money, family conflicts, church problems, illness, death—you name it. Run to God and trust in His sovereignty over all of it.

12. THINK POSITIVE.  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 
David Murray writes,  "Christian hope is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good and glory based on the reliable Word of God." 1 
The Christian has every reason to be cheerful. Our sins have been forgiven and we have an inheritance waiting for us in Heaven!

          I highly recommend the following class my pastor taught  Straight Talk
About Protecting Your Marriage.   It's very down to earth and practical and 
includes topics such as pornography and adultery.    

1. The Happy Christian, by David Murray, pg. 92

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