What does it take to make a marriage flourish?
Recently I shared a dilemma on Facebook
“Sometimes do you need to remind yourself that you are no longer doing life alone? I do. I have days when I get busy and run ahead – thinking, planning, doing, deciding, wanting, controlling – and in my busyness, forget I am joined to another.
I forget consulting. And that consulting with my husband has nothing to do with my value or level of intelligence; I am smart and capable. But I joined my life to another and that means honor, an attitude of the heart that esteems his thoughts and our one-flesh union.
I have to remember that running ahead and creating singular success might seem like a grand thing but it’s completely empty if you get there alone. It is much better to reach our destination slower and together. Than run ahead and get everything done and our unity suffers.”
Making a marriage flourish is not a walk in the park
Most couples want a unified front – the sweet intimacy and depth that comes from being of one mind and heart. But we struggle when it comes to the “how of it.”
Making a marriage flourish is possible but it requires wives (and husbands of course) to switch on a different part of their brain and heart.
The part that makes the determination “marriage is for keeps and I am here for the long haul and I will do my part to make it a happy journey!”
So let’s talk about 4 important mind shifts to help your marriage prosper. These apply to husbands too!
To make your marriage garden flourish, remember
1. Creating an uncommon marriage is a process, not an event.
Just because you got a ring and said “I do” does not mean you fully understand the ways of a wife.
Or he knows everything it takes to be a good husband.
Both roles are learned. On the job.
Look at it this way; sometimes it takes the same amount of time it took to learn a habit to unlearn the habit.
It took you years to perfect singular living.
Chances are, it will take you time to unlearn those ways and replace them with marriage-friendly ones.
A ring and a vow does not change everything about you and everything about him.
Practice, faith, applying yourselves does.
Judith Viorst says
“One advantage of marriage, it seems to me, is that when you fall out of love with each other, it keeps you together until you fall in love again. “
Here’s what I am saying.
Don’t be depressed and frustrated when you exhibit anti-one-flesh tendencies, like not wanting to make love because he was unkind, or wanting to tattle on him or “dying” to go back to single life.
Just because you feel a certain way does not mean you are that way.
Feelings are fickle; at the end of the day, it’s what we do, in-spite of how we feel that counts.
Work on your attitudes, process your feelings; ask God to help you work thought the emotions.
But don’t allow your feelings and flesh to dissuade you from what God started. (Mark 10;9)
When you feel like walking in the opposite direction of unity, keep walking into the arms of Jesus; allow Him in to the confused dark places of your heart and marriage.
Don’t assume your trials mean you were not meant to be together.
2. Hard times can help you love deeper
If you and your spouse allow them.
I smile when people tell me I have the most perfect, the most effortless marriage; I thank God for His grace that makes it look effortless but the truth is there’s nothing like an effortless marriage.
Most couples, yours truly included, are like the sweet pair of ducks floating down the river; looking all suave and cute and effortless.. but underneath the surface their little feet are paddling like crazy!
A good marriage is hard work… especially at the beginning.
People with beautiful relationships have found that beauty in difficult times.
You don’t need hardships to create a great marriage, of course. But pain and difficulties have way of searing lessons into our hearts like nothing else can.
So don’t run away from difficulties and pain. Don’t grow faint of heart because you got a test.
“In marriage it is never about not falling. It is always about getting back up” Dr Emerson Eggerichs
3. Lack of an exit helps you work on your marriage like there’s no plan B
When you know there’s a plan B, you work like there’s a plan B.
But when you know there’s no exit, you work like there’s no exit.
Feel like sleeping on the couch? You take yourself by the ear and put yourself in that bed. You might sleep on the edge, but at least you are in the same bed. You are feeding the connecter, not the separator.
So often we disconnect from our spouse or make silly choices because we gave ourselves more wriggle room than we should have.
We allowed ourselves to think that grass can be greener on the other side. That friends will understand us more than our spouse. That “why, my mum didn’t put up with such and such, why should I?”
Yet to have a marriage that lasts a lifetime, we must treat it like we want it to last a lifetime.
We must nurture and protect and cover it like it’s our highest treasure. Because if it is, your mind and actions need to get in on it.If you want a marriage that lasts a lifetime, you must treat it like you want it to last a lifetime. Nurture and protect like it's your highest treasure.
Bottom line; make up you mind there’s no plan B.
And you’ll be working on your marriage like there’s no other plan.
4. When you feel like God is absent, it doesn’t mean He is
Marriage is one of those places where when it’s hard, it can be incredibly hard and when its good, it can be gloriously good.
In the early years of marriage and whenever there’s conflict, one of the things that fly out of the window is the concept of God’s presence in the middle of our marital mess.
(I really struggled with that and I talk about it here.)
“If God is in this marriage, why is it so hard?”
“If we are meant to be happy, how come we are not?”
“If God is for us, why don’t we feel Him?”
Well, marriage is hard because its made up of two imperfect people.
It’s impossible to have a perfect relationship when you are married to an imperfect person.
But even in our messes, we can still experience His incredible presence and joy and peace. Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 23;4
Ecclesiastes 4:12 talks about “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” A great marriage is not made up of two people, but three. The third person is God and He’s the One that holds everything together.
God can make the marriage work, even when the odds are stacked against you.
He will still your heart and give you unfathomable peace right in the middle of your storm. He will comfort you and help you.
But for Him to work in you and your marriage, you must look to Him, not your feelings or circumstances.
PS. This post is for wives in relatively healthy and but growing marriages where disappointment and heartache are part of the growing process. It takes intentional effort by both spouses to make a marriage flourish.
If you are in an abusive or adulterous marriage, other posts on the blog might be more helpful. See this
Question: What can you add? What is the one (or two or three) things that have helped your marriage? Lets talk in comments.