A healthy marriage is one in which you go through the stages of self-discovery and learn to identify your healthy and less-than-healthy expectations. Then you choose to take personal responsibility for your actions and reactions. Finally, you make the commitment to honor the marriage and your spouse.
If you’re waiting for your spouse to change first before you take personal responsibility for what you can change in yourself, you may never see an improvement in the state of your marriage. So be the change agent in your relationship and begin showing your spouse how committed you are. Here are three ways guaranteed to improve the health of your marriage.
Step 1: Build Up Your Mate with Encouragement
Your spouse may feel discouraged, frustrated, and tired—not just at the end of the day, but every day. He or she may be going through a season in life when everything seems too hard to deal with. That’s why it’s so important to be a source of encouragement and hope.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He is encouraging people to watch their words, love one another, and build each other up. That applies to everyday interactions, including your marriage.
Step 2: Pray for Your Spouse
When it comes to marriage, never underestimate the power of prayer. Over the years I have literally seen hundreds of marriages on the brink of divorce come alive with joy, passion, and new life because of the power of prayer.
Hebrews 4:16 instructs, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” That’s right! The mercy and grace you need to love your spouse is available to you every day. Prayer is the key. Sometimes as you pray, you’ll see immediate changes in your spouse; but other times the transformation will be much slower. Often when you pray, the greatest change you’ll see is in yourself—in your heart, your perspective, your attitude.
Matthew 7:7-11 encourages us to be persistent. You have the opportunity to lift the name of your spouse before God every day!
It’s never too late to begin praying. All too often I have found that when my emotional and relational gauges are low, and I’m low on energy when it comes to loving my wife, there’s no faster way to refuel than spending time in prayer. It’s hard to stay disconnected from someone you are praying for on a regular basis. In fact, it’s almost impossible. You simply can’t harbor anger, bitterness, or frustration against someone and still ask God to bless him or her on a regular basis.
Step 3: Ask God to Let It Begin with You
A broken marriage begins to mend and communication is re-established when one of the partners is willing to make a breakthrough and say “Lord, begin with me. I am the one who needs to change, to love more deeply and more wisely.”
Even if you think your spouse is 100 percent wrong, when you stand in the presence of Christ, you will begin to see that you, too, have shortcomings. You will discern where you have failed to accept responsibility for your part in the marital relationship, and you will be able to say “God, change me.”
A Christian should be committed to follow Christ’s example. He went all the way in love, all the time. So, for a start, stop demanding that your partner change his or her ways. Let God start changing you.
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From As Long As We Both Shall Live
©2009 by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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