Last summer, my wife and I celebrated our 14th birthday. It was an amazing trip and I’m thankful to God for my wife. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way.
See your spouse as a gift from God
Scripture affirms the goodness and beauty of marriage (Genesis 2:18-25, Proverbs 5:18-19, Ephesians 5:22-33, Hebrews 13:4). Whether you realize it or not, your life is supremely enriched by the good gift of God from your spouse. Don’t take this for granted. Tell them often how much you appreciate them and what a blessing they are to you.
Don’t try to change each other
Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to change spouses. Often this has nothing to do with biblical/theological issues, but simply matters of personal preference. When attempts are made to reform and change your spouse more to your liking, it can put enormous pressure on the marriage. By all means, pray for your husband, pray for your wife, and do all you can to help them grow in sanctification and Christlikeness, but don’t try to change them. Accept them for who they are and how God uniquely created them.
Take (your) sin very seriously
Marriage gives you an education in your own sin like no other relationship. After my wife and I got married, I began to see my own selfishness, pride, anger, and a host of other sins in ways I had never felt before. My sin was affecting others, especially my wife, and had to be dealt with. Fortunately, the gospel of Jesus Christ kept me going. Of course, this process of sanctification and growth in grace will continue for the rest of our earthly pilgrimage, but we must be zealous and intentional to kill sin (Mark 9:43-48) and pursue Christlikeness.
Keep accounts short
The Bible says, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil a chance” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Husband and wife are forced to argue from time to time. It is almost impossible to avoid this, but in this reality it is essential to talk about things and to experience reconciliation if necessary. My wife and I had many discussions late at night, but we still have to fall asleep without first confessing our sin, forgiving each other, and being reconciled. It was painful, but at the same time powerful within our relationship. Satan constantly tries to drive a wedge between married couples. Don’t give him a foot!
Read the Bible and pray together
Scripture reading and prayer are disciplines that should be present in the life of every Christian. My wife and I strive to do this together as much as possible. Each morning, after spending time alone with the Lord, we often pray together and sometimes even read the scriptures together. It only served to unify and strengthen our marriage and bring us closer to the Lord.
Don’t let your busy schedule interfere with intimacy
If you’re like us, you have a busy schedule. Your busy schedule is filled with important things that leave very little room for each other, including those special moments of intimacy. Sex is the glue that holds marriage together. It’s an incredible gift from God that’s meant to be enjoyed, but frequent sex doesn’t just happen. Husband and wife need to be intentional (and sometimes even creative) when it comes to finding time for each other.
See Christ as more important than your spouse
Christ is the treasure of all treasures (Matthew 13:44-46). To find Christ is to find the very essence of life, joy and peace. Don’t make your spouse an idol. Love them, cherish them, but appreciate Christ above all else.
Trust God to take care of you
I could tell story after story of times Heavenly Father provided for us in incredible ways! There have been many trials and difficulties (see John 16:33) along the way, but the Lord has led us through each one. In this way, he has taken our faith to a whole new level, so that we can truly praise him for the paths we walk (James 1:2-4).
Expect your love for each other to grow
When we first got married, it was hard for me to imagine loving my wife more than I already did. But after 14 years of marriage, I can honestly say that our love for each other continues to grow and multiply. This “growing love” is a wonderful gift from God and can serve as an image of our love for God. Christians are called to “growing up” in their knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).
Go out with other couples
My wife and I were fortunate to have several “couple of friends” over the years. Some were older than us, others younger, but these types of relationships are special and some even turn out to last a lifetime. Seek to find pairs of friends who can invest in you and you can invest in them.
Reverend Daniel Stegeman is pastor of Pine Glen Alliance Church in Lewistown. You can find more articles like this on his blog www.pastoral-theology.com