Someone asked me the other day if I knew how many marriage ceremonies I had performed over the years. I don’t, but I wish I’d kept count. Thinking back, I can tell you there have been many ceremonies performed and many counseling sessions scheduled.
I’ve done this a while, performing weddings and counseling couples both pre and post ceremony. Myself, I have been married for over 31 years. The other day, I sat down and drafted a list of things that I wish everyone knew about better relational practices in marriage.
Here’s my list:
Spend time communicating. Most problems in the marriage relationship fall into the communication category. Do more listening than talking and make the conversations meaningful. Talk about things other than the bills and schedules.
Learn to express love and respect to one another. Demonstrate regard, care and admiration. She wants to know that you love her. He wants to know he’s respected. Learn how to communicate love and respect that speaks your spouse’s language. Remember, you’re working for the benefit of the other.
Give space to each other. Two thoughts here. First, allow for alone time; it is a valuable commodity. Secondly, give your spouse space to cultivate giftedness, interests and passions. How can you encourage your spouse to live out their individual potential?
Dream big together. Couples who dream together stay together. I’ve noticed a common quality in troubled marriages over the years, they quit dreaming about a future together. When you dream about a future together, you invite and validate a future together. What future are you dreaming about with your spouse?
Remember to go out and play. Healthy couples play together. In other words, they have fun together and enjoy the company of each other. Do something fun together. Go to the movies, the gym, take a walk, play a game or go out on date. What are you doing together that’s fun?
Work to build trust. Don’t take it for granted or do anything to jeopardize your spouse’s trust.
Talk about spiritual things together. Share with each other what you are learning. A believing spouse is an incredible gift; there is a beauty in faith’s commonality. When you hold similar spiritual values there’s an intimacy your share together through faith. What spiritual insights and lessons are you sharing with your spouse?
Serve together. There’s something about a husband and wife serving on mission together that deepens the relationship. Living purpose and mission together fosters greater intimacy. Where are you on mission tougher?
Forgive much and often. Extend grace and mercy daily to your spouse. Relationships are intentional and forgiveness is a decision. Its absence makes navigating a relationship nearly impossible. What do you need to forgive your spouse for today?
Practice commitment daily. We read in Genesis 2:24 that a man is to leave his parents and hold fast to his wife. Do you know what that means? To hold fast mean that you’ve been glued together and you now “ stick” to each other. Commitment is the adhesive. To hold fast implies an action, a repeated action. At a minimum, we must remind ourself of the commitment daily and perhaps hourly. You made a commitment on that wedding day, practice the commitment.
There’s more I could add here, but this is my short list on a healthy marriage relationship. Hopefully, these words made you think about your own marriage (if you’re married) and the responsibility we carry to make marriage work well. What else would you add to the list?