Yesterday I posted how to have a good marriage and as promised here is the second instalment, this time focusing on what makes a strong Christian marriage. We established yesterday that every marriage is different and that we all have our own requirements of our spouse but there were some reoccurring themes like strong communication, tolerance and hard work.
The same come out again as important factors for a good Christian marriage but there are also some traits that did not come up at all in conversation with my secular friends. Prayer, you can understand being omitted but I wonder why encouragement and trust did not get mentioned? It just goes to show what an enormous subject this is. Sadly for anyone about to get married I can't tell you there is any secret that will ensure all goes well for you. Just read as much as you can and I'd highly recommend attending a marriage preparation course or speaking to some mature Christians.
I thought it might be fun to throw in a male perspective so I asked my dh what his advice or tips were in regards to marriage and he pondered for an age and then told me he was a man of few words and apparently that is what made us have a successful marriage! Hmm I think he was insinuating that I do the talking for us both and luckily that make us both chuckle and thus he gives the first tip for a good marriage, make sure you can laugh together and not take things too seriously.
He did then grow more serious and started to reel off a number of factors, such as partnership, acting as one, watching each other’s backs, trust and communication (both listening and speaking). Also not expecting everything to be done the way you want it or in your time frame (I think that was a hint for me to lighten up), being able to have difficult conversations and discuss sensitive situations and looking to encourage each other. He then said as you develop your understanding of each other and your partner’s insecurities, you need to be there to support them in their weaker areas.
Then he finished by saying it was important to look for ways to keep it fresh and not allow your marriage to get monotonous. Make sure you have things to look forward to as well as shared hopes, dreams and visions; being on the same track, travelling in the same direction. I have to say I felt he summed it all up pretty well and I was surprised to get so much from him.
As well as dh, I some excellent advise to share with you from a number of Christian bloggers -
3 Children and It – I think it's about constantly putting your spouse first and for me, that means before children....I know that is controversial for some but I truly believe kids are happiest when their parents love and respect one another....and they are willing to show it!
Johnson Babies – I think an understanding of 'forever' should exist before marriage. I think tolerance is the most important gift, before and after you have found love. Acceptance, compromise, and forgiveness follow closely after. They all appear as simple words, until exercised.
Diana Quartey – I see tolerance as accepting someone who is different from you, and loving them. Not so much having feelings of love with all the goose pimples and stuff, but working towards the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love.
Secrets of the Sandpit – Vital ingredients include trust and respect, lifting each other up not pushing each other down and keeping short accounts - sorting out issues as soon as you can. Love is a choice you make every day, not a feeling that comes and goes. Love is being responsible for your own character, but the other person's needs - not the other way round. Love is equality - you must love and respect yourself in order to have something of value to give the other person.
Gourmet Mum – Speak kindly and try not to shout. Make the effort you did when you were first together, and try to get once a week just to have fun together (even if money is tight see this as a priority as it's investing in your marriage) even if it's a dinner at home with no TV & phones.
Emily Davies – I think the best advice I was given was on the topic of communication/conflict resolution: never use the phrases "you never..." or "you always" when facing a disagreement. It forces me to bite my tongue and slow down/ focus on the real issue. Always forgive, accept that you can't change them (remember it's not your responsibility to), never go to bed on an argument, hug often. Work towards solutions rather than 'being right' and holding grudges. Pick your battles. You being right is not the most important thing
The road outside - For me, what makes our marriage work is a general acceptance of each other - good and bad - and an understanding that we are married for life, full stop! I do think that 'being ready' to be permanently joined to another person is the key - and that's not to do with age, it's to do with knowing who you are. On a lighter note, I still flirt with my husband every day, still run to greet him when he comes home, still laugh at his jokes and listen to his stories.
Everyone else is normal – Lashings of repentance (I'm sorry) and forgiveness (that's OK), making time for yourselves regularly, and time to talk about what's really going on in your heart/world and having no Plan B!
Clarinas contemplations – Communication, communication, communication... Not holding grudges or leaving things unsaid... Take time to talk! Make time to ask each other honest questions and listen to the answers. Hold short accounts and don't go to bed angry with each other. Get things resolved that evening! Most of all, have fun together. Do things together and enjoy each others company. And pray. Pray for him and for your marriage every day!
I'll leave you on that important thought for a successful Christian marriage - pray. Pray alone, pray together - just pray! I have found the Stormie O'Martian book 'The Power of a Praying Wife' to be an amazing resource that really helped me get into the habit of praying for my husband. A chapter day took me about 20 minutes and I genuinely felt my love for him grow as I focused my attention on praying for him and his needs, even when he was annoying at times. Yes, can you believe it? He can be annoying, but then so can I!
If you have any more nuggets of wisdom, then do feel free to add them to the comments. I hope you have found this post useful.
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