Marriage is a wonderful, God-ordained gift to a man and a woman. Genesis 1:27- 2:25 (with special emphasis on Gen. 2:24) gives us a clear picture of God's intentions when he created them male and female. At its best, the blessings of marriage are innumerable. You float from day to day with the partner of your heart, forging a new life together filled with happiness, laughter and joy. When problems arise, you work as a team to solve them. When children arrive, you marvel that the two of you created such an amazing creature. Truly, marriage is like no other relationship.
But after 26+ years of marriage to my best friend, I'm here to tell you marriage can also be work. Hard work at times. The same blessings I've mentioned can also become obstacles. Jobs, kids, even mundane household chores are suddenly areas to argue over. Money especially can cause arguments in even the happiest marriage. Whether it is the lack of money or how it is spent, many relationships are seriously damaged by money issues. Sex is another area where marriages suffer. Many husbands and some wives feel neglected in this area, which eventually trickles into feelings of dissatisfaction in other areas. A few years ago we attended the "Love & Respect" marriage conference with Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs and his wife Sarah. I remember Dr. Eggerichs discussing sex. He said, "The Enemy of this world will do everything he can to get you to have sex before you're married. After you're married, he'll do everything he can to prevent you from having sex with your spouse."
Whether you're married or single, you're probably nodding your head in agreement, because it's true. The Enemy of this world doesn't want happy marriages. He doesn't want whole families. He'd much rather see us fighting, bickering, blaming, and finally, divorcing. He tried to destroy the very first marriage -- Adam and Eve -- while they were still living in paradise. They didn't have all the distractions and cares we have in our daily lives, yet because of Satan's lies they had the first marital blame-game recorded in history.
So what can we do to keep our marriages strong in the face of all this adversity? Here are some things I've learned to do and not to do over the years:
- Pray for your spouse and for your marriage. Daily. Hourly if needed.
- Pray together at least once a day. At a different marriage conference with Dr. Gary Smalley, he suggested simply holding hands at night and praying silently if you aren't comfortable praying out loud.
- Stop playing the blame-game. Eve may have given the fruit to Adam, but he ate it. It takes two to make a marriage work, and it takes two to make a marriage fail.
- Don't talk negatively about your spouse to others. You may need to share your burden for your marriage with someone you trust who can join you in prayer, but stop short of bashing your spouse.
- Make a point of spending time together alone. Go on a date. Take a walk. Visit an antique store. Whatever you enjoy doing, do it together.
- Your children are not your first priority. Your marriage is. A healthy marriage will help you raise happy kids.
- Don't let your job, your ministry, your friends create problems in your marriage. Again, your marriage and your spouse are your number one priority.
- Revisit the beginning of your relationship often. Look at pictures. Reread love letters. Go to the places you went to on your first date. That person you fell in love with is the same person you're married to. Don't look back with regret. Look forward with hope!
- Remember your vows. The promises we make during the wedding ceremony should never be forgotten. Live them out every single day.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Genesis 2:24
May the Lord our God bless your marriage today!
This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, Philippines, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy United Kingdom, South Korea