SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE BETTER
Last May of 2019, my wife and I celebrated 40 years of marriage. It is amazing to me to look back and see all that God has done in our relationship. God has taught us many valuable lessons and I am incredibly blessed by the richness that has grown and developed in our marriage. I would like to share with you some of the simple yet profound things that have made our marriage so rich and enjoyable as I believe they will do the very same for yours. Some of these things you may have heard of, some you may do, some you may not have thought of, and some you may do very inconsistently. All of these things have been a tremendous blessing to my wife and me through the decades as they became our consistent pattern of living.
AN INSIGHT INTO REALITY
Let me start by painting a picture for you of the typical reality most of us face every day but do not consciously realize its impact on us. Most of you reading this have young children. For many of you, mom is home all day expending much emotional, physical, and mental energy caring for them. She is giving her very best efforts. Little children place many demands on a mother. In addition, many of you are home educating your children. This means that by early evening when most dads get home, mom is very tired and has used up much emotional energy throughout the day.
Fathers, most of you are at work all day long, facing many challenges, problems to solve, and much of the time dealing with foolish, or non-christian people. Some, of course, are very professional and competent co-workers. But others are not, and on top of your job responsibilities and tasks, dealing with these problem people takes tremendous physical and emotional energy. You have been striving to give you best efforts all day long at work. At the end of the workday when dad walks in the door, the reality is both mom and dad are very tired, having burned through a lot of emotional and physical energy that day. This is what tends to happen next: we walk in the door from work and we sort of just let our hair down, and both husband and wife tend to give each other the leftovers of our spirit. It is easy to be grumpy, or distant or in a sour mood, or very preoccupied and worn down. I know as my wife and I have experienced these very things and counseled many others who were dealing with it themselves.
I have also observed this. Wives/mothers often are more pleasant, kind, sweet and considerate to their kids than to their husband. Just examine the way you speak to your kids, versus how you may speak to your husband or the content of what you say, and how it is said. Husbands/fathers, we are often more pleasant, kind, and considerate to our co-workers, or our customers than to our wives. Ask yourself, “If I spoke to my co-workers or customers they way I speak and deal with my wife, would I still have a business?”
One of the primary reasons God created marriage was for companionship. God created marriage for our emotional and physical closeness and a deep and meaningful friendship with each other.
Let me ask you, is your spouse your best friend? If not, why? Are you letting your friendship with others get in the way of closeness and friendship with your spouse? Is it possible that the new technologies like the Smartphone, social media, and Facebook friends are interfering with your marriage relationships, just as years ago the TV interfered with a husband and wife simply talking to each other?
Did you know in a study conducted by Bausch+Lomb that the average woman spends 12 hours more per week with her smartphone than with her partner? Is it possible that all the people who now expect you to get back to them either through a text message or a phone call, or Voxer or email are interfering with the precious time you need to connect emotionally with your spouse?
Don’t laugh, the studies are in and the smartphone has brought tremendous change and many negative impacts on our most important human relationships. Think of this for a moment. Without realizing it, are you getting your emotional needs met by other people because you are not getting those needs met at home by your spouse? It would be very easy today with all the social media available, to have this happen to you and you don’t even realize it. Ladies, it is so important that you look for your primary source of companionship with your husband and not your other girlfriends.
Men, you must understand God gave you a wife so you would not be alone!! Remember what God said? He looked for a helper suitable for Adam and he found none. God said it is not good for man to be alone! He didn’t create friends for Adam! He didn’t create the church for him! He made him a female companion. God gave Adam a wife!! I have watched a lot of married men over the years fill their lives with substitute stuff to replace time and emotional connection with their wife and it left them feeling very unfulfilled and very lonely.
Here is a very important lesson I learned in my 40 years of marriage: An enjoyable marriage relationship comes down to lots of good, strategic little things, done over and over again. We must intentionally and consistently practice our Christianity on our spouse or when we get home from a long day at work, we go to the default mode of our flesh! I spent a lot of time over the years pondering these passages from the Bible and applying them directly to my relationship with my wife, Kathy.
Phil. 4:5 (Berkley)
“Be known by all people for your considerateness; the Lord is near.”
James 3:13-17 (NIV)
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.”
1 Peter 3:8
“Finally, let all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, loving as brothers, deeply compassionate, humble-minded.”
Here then are the simple ways I applied these truths and they made my marriage so much better and richer than I ever thought it could be.
1. Be thoughtful and considerate of your mate. Be polite and say thank you and please. Little things like this make a very big difference. You are sweet to your kids, be sweet with your spouse. Don’t be abrasive. The word considerate means we are careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others.
2. Be pleasant and cheerful. Do you go to work a grouch? Why do we live at home this way? The Bible says a cheerful heart is good medicine. My cheery attitude, my winsome, faithfilled attitude has a great impact on my mate.
3. Make your marriage an enjoyable experience as much as possible. Find out what pleases your mate. I genuinely try to do things that please Kathy, that are meaningful to her. It is often just little things that mean so much. I strive to honor her preferences.
4. Share your life with your spouse. Talk to them and patiently listen well to them. Let them in on your thoughts, your feelings, and the situations of your life. We long for connection and to be understood. This will only happen if you learn to listen and hear their heart, without condemning them or harshly judging them.
5. Be patient with each other and extend lots of grace and mercy. Life is not easy at all. So many stresses bearing down on us. Patience and grace go such a long way to creating marital joy.
6. Show empathy to your spouse. Learn to share their feelings and experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in their shoes. Be sensitive and attentive to their needs. Share each other’s joys and share each others sorrows.
7. Be cooperative. Strive to get along well, and be harmonious. Don’t be disagreeable, contentious and argumentative. Be peace-loving, peaceable. One famous Bible proverb says it is better to live in the corner of an attic than with a contentious, argumentative woman. It could be applied to us men as well.
8. Stop doing things that hurt your marriage. Like a football team always getting silly penalties or making foolish mistakes. Avoid sarcasm, or making fun of each other. Work hard to stop doing things you know they just don’t like and have asked you not to do.
9. Be for each other. Does your spouse believe you are for them? That you want their best? That you want their success? Remember you are on the same team. Cheer them on.
10. Nourish your marriage, cherish your spouse in your thoughts and your heart and emotions. Speak well of them to yourself!! Speak encouraging, complimentary things to them often. Say I love you often and mean it. Tell them you are really glad you married them.
11. Stop comparing your spouse in unfavorable ways to others. Embrace them for who they are. Appreciate their strengths. Rejoice in who they are, and be deeply grateful for their love and devotion to you.
12. Be appreciative of them and the things they do for you and the family. Don’t take them for granted. When we do not appreciate them, we drift. If you do not sow gratitude, you will reap discontent and become very unhappy. Appreciate, treasure, value, admire, grasp, comprehend, and understand their full value to you.
13. Be helpful. Look for ways to simply help them out. Watch the kids, empty the trash, change a diaper, pick up a room, run an errand, just pitch in and help each other. Do it with a good attitude that is eager to serve and bless them.
14. Be affectionate. A simple warm hug or a soft kiss on the cheek means so much in a marriage relationship.
15. Pray together every day. This unites you and places your dependency on God. GOD ANSWERS PRAYER!
Always remember, your marriage is always a work in progress. All of us must make it our intentional practice to keep growing in all of these things. We can all become more thoughtful, more kind, more considerate, a better listener, a better mate! Your marriage will become what you make it to be together.
Please take some time to hear this series. I believe it will be a tremendous help to you.