Like any healthy relationship, a good marriage requires work. No matter how compatible a couple may be or how in love they feel, there will be times when unforeseen challenges arise, and it’s then that the true foundation of a marriage is revealed.
Lizzy Christian shares in her article for Relevant “5 Things Every Healthy Married Couple Does” how she and her husband got married very young and, through the years, what practices they have learned are essential to maintaining a healthy marriage.
“Love is more than a feeling, it is more than the butterflies in your stomach,” writes Christian. Instead, “Love is a lifelong commitment. Love is facing obstacles together, leaning on Christ together and learning to lean on one another when things seem unbearable. Marriage is often like climbing a mountain—challenging, often an uphill battle, with beautiful scenery as we climb.”
Here are five things that Christian couples should put into practice in order to keep their marriages strong and their relationship growing and vibrant.
1.They don’t let society pull them down.
There will always be the naysayers–those who are ready to criticize you for marrying too young, or even those who are skeptical of marriage in general. I remember in high school having one jaded middle-aged woman warn me never to get married (I didn’t take her advice!). It’s important to seek out wise and Godly counsel before making a marriage commitment (and throughout your marriage), rather than allowing offhand comments from people who don’t know you best to influence such a big decision.
“Stay active in church, read your Bible together, pray together and come together as one. Be adventurous, make memories, grow together as a couple and try new things together,” writes Christian.
2. They don’t ever talk about divorce.
When my husband and I got married, we both agreed that divorce would not be an option. Allowing yourself a way to escape if the going gets tough is harmful for any relationship and doesn’t build a sense of trust and commitment. Of course, there may be more drastic cases in which divorce may actually be for the best, but in most cases, divorce could be prevented if couples were willing to work through the really challenging times of no longer feeling in love. As Christian notes, “Love is not a feeling,” so even though you may not feel in love with your spouse, you can fall back on your commitment to him or her and trust God to renew those feelings once your heart attitude is in the right place. This is a very difficult thing, and is something we cannot do without God’s grace.
3. They remember that marriage is not 50/50.
This is personally probably the hardest one for me. My sense of fairness and justice says that marriage should be 50/50 and that my husband and I should each put in half the work and pull half the weight. But that’s not the way Jesus works, and it’s not the way He engages in relationship with us, and it’s also not the way He calls us to love others. “Give 100 percent to your spouse and beautiful things will follow. Focus on what you are doing rather than looking for your spouse’s shortcomings,” writes Christian.
4. They know that you will change a lot.
Especially if you get married young, you will change as a person–and consequently as a couple–a lot. It’s important to remember that this is okay and even healthy. As you go through different seasons of life and change together, consider what you can do to grow together rather than apart. How can you and your spouse take on this new challenge as a team? How can this new season of life be a way to get to know your spouse on a deeper level? It’s sometimes tempting to look back on the first months of dating or the first months of marriage as a better or easier time, but God has given you each other to share a journey together, and that means there will be good memories that you can treasure, but also always new challenges and opportunities for growth.
5. They start every day with fresh eyes.
My husband likes to remind me of the verse that says “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26) when I am still mad after a disagreement (I’m usually the more stubborn one). God’s forgiveness is swift, and so should ours be. You may have fought and argued or just had a really bad day in your marriage, but God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Tomorrow is always another chance to start over, another chance to bask in God’s grace.
Christian concludes: “Instead of being marriage naysayers, let’s get out there and encourage young couples and all couples who are planning to say ‘I do!’ Marriage is fun and only seems to get better with each passing day—if you let it.”
Photo courtesy: Unsplash.com/Scott Webb
Publication date: August 1, 2017
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com