My husband and I love to have guests in our home. Especially those who stay a few days. I try to make their room as comfortable as possible, even personally testing the bed with a little nap.
My husband takes pleasure in wowing guests with favorite and “guinea pig” recipes. In most cases, the time flies by and we’re saying good-byes with hopes to gather again. We consider our gift of hospitality a gift to us as much as to our guests.
When we were first married, as if we were one another’s guest, my husband and I treated each other the same way. I loved spending time with him and making him feel… welcomed. There were things we had to work through, but the tension and journey to agreement or acceptance usually ended up with us actively searching to find a way back to each other.
As welcomes go and time went by, through day to day life and wedding anniversaries, a few places on the welcome mat unraveled and before long, the places that were stepped on often became threadbare.
Though we’re clearly told our stay on this earth is brief, God provided us with several gifts to make our fleeting stay more enjoyable, productive, and, in some instances, simply bearable. One of those gifts is marriage.
In a 2019 Pew Research study, it was discovered that 88% of Americans cited love as their top reason to get married, ahead of making a lifelong commitment at 81%, and 76% married for companionship. However, the book of Genesis, which sets the stage for the entire Bible, made it clear God’s creative work was not complete until He made a woman to become one with the man. Marriage is God’s idea and throughout the Bible, God instructs us to treat it as a special gift.
God also informs us that our stay on earth is brief. In short, the journey’s short. Living knowing that our life and therefore marriage is a vapor is different than just living it. When we develop an everyday awareness that we only have so much time and only one shot at it, we tend to hold on to what will stand.
Savor what matters.
A psalmist wrote, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” Ps 39:4
Without knowing much detail of what the future would hold, we entered a covenant with someone promising in some form to honor, serve, love, support, and stay united with them. Now that some time has passed, are you shortchanging them and yourself with anger, self-centeredness, un-forgiveness, apathy, and bad or sinful behavior?
This is your marriage story. It belongs to you. How are you caring for it?
I’ve compiled a 40-year long list of some tried and tested marriage tips that I pray you will put into practice and allow them to help you on your marriage journey:
- Pray for your spouse. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so. Prayer enables us to align with God’s heavenly will here on earth and in our marriage. Pray God’s Word back to Him. You can talk any problem over with God; however, the solution lies in what He has to say about it. Be aware: prayer can change us. Pray a blessing out loud over your spouse. Want to know when to start – how about at the dinner table?
- Forgive. If it is an offense that needs intervention, get help. There are too many Bible- believing churches, Christian counseling centers, and Biblical counselors to hold on to something because we don’t know what to do. If I find a crack in my home’s foundation, I pray and I call the repairman. If you have to go alone – go. Do the work. A marriage will not fix itself. Remember, life is short.
- Make plans to be together. Find friends, find experiences you both want, attend Church together, even if on-line. If your spouse will do a devotional, buy one you would enjoy and set aside a designated time. If things are good and you think you don’t really need a devotional, it’s the perfect time to start.
- Sleep together. Yes, this is loaded. Unless one of you is very ill, learn to sleep in the same room. Earplugs anyone? After infancy, let your children sleep in a separate room.
- Don’t just sleep. That’s right, you’re free to have sex – all your married life! Practice. Plan if necessary. If you don’t enjoy it, or you find there’s trouble, talk to a professional or your doctor. People do all the time. As time goes on, continue to talk to each other about it. Needs, desires, bodies may change, but keep in mind that Moses was a 120 years old when he died and his eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. The book of Ecclesiastes also says to enjoy life with your wife all of your days.
- Forgive. All the best tips bear repetition. Forgive the little things. Forgive as you want to be forgiven. Your spouse is imperfect. You are, too. That will never change. What can you do to overlook the imperfections? Remember, love keeps no record of wrongs.
- Communicate often. Ask them questions. Listen to what they say. Look at them when you talk. Observehow they respond. Respond with what you think they said. Tip: “What should we talk about?” is not a good conversation opener.
- Do things for them. Take out the trash, call to make their appointment if they’re short on time, change the sheets, make them coffee. A great marriage building phrase is “I will take care of that for you.”
- DO NOT speak badly or use sarcasm about your spouse when you’re alone or in front of others. We are warned, the tongue can set the whole course of one’s life on fire. I think the next verse in Scripture mentions hell. It’s not the direction anyone wants to go. Frankly, no one else derives pleasure from hearing you talk like that either.
- Love God first. Follow Christ’s example. Your spouse is not your God. You can’t depend on them to save you. The pressure on them would be too great and they will fail. Your spouse can complement you, walk alongside you, and be your best friend on earth. Only Jesus can save, heal, and restore your spirit, mind, and body.
Finally, unless it’s a great surprise party, don’t hide things from each other. If you’re struggling with something, freedom begins with confession. Secrecy breeds sin and sin destroys relationships.
Your marriage story can become the gift God intended for your life. People love being treated like they’re someone special. You reap the benefit as well as give lasting enjoyment to your spouse by honoring and serving one another in love.
Cindi Killen loves being part of the Spiritual Development team at Christian Care Ministry. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 40 years and are transitioning with the last of their 7 children going off to college this year. They enjoy days off, entertaining in their home, and exploring small towns and out of the way places.