2) Start and end your day with praise & thanksgiving
If you opened your eyes this morning and discovered that you still have breath, you have reason to rejoice! God gave you life, thank Him for it! Practice praise. Make it a priority at the start and end of each day.
Sometimes, it may look something like wrapping your arms around each other in the morning, saying I love you, and thanking God for another day. Other times, it’s the two of you grabbing a coffee (or a nutritional beverage), sitting on the couch, and reading a Psalm together. And still other times it might just be enjoying a beautiful drive, a walk at a nearby park, or a trip through the mountains, or by the ocean, in awe of the Creator.
From the very morning, as a couple, learn to turn your thoughts and focus upon God. It will put the rest of your day in proper perspective.
Worship is the expression of adoration for God. It is an acknowledgement of His worth (and, oh, what unfathomable worth) and all that He is.
1) Attend and be active at a church together
Worship is not only for Sunday mornings, or whatever day you gather with fellow believers. However, the accountability, inspiration, and discipline of leaving your home to join with other Christians, worshipping God and learning from His Word, is a powerful act of obedience in your marriage.
If you’re currently engaged and happen to live far apart, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to attend church together. But that doesn’t mean you can’t share what’s happening and the different ways you are involved at the church you attend. Don’t worry, the day will shortly come when you can go to “church” together (I’m referring to the building).
God did not create us to function independently of the body of Christ, the believers. We need each other. Church is not only a place where you can use your gifts to bless others (see 1 Pet.4:10,11, NKJV) but a place where God uses others to bless you. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) tells us that meeting together is an essential part of growing in our faith.
We’ve seen couples drift because participating in the gathering of the saints was not a priority for them. One common narrative that we’ve heard from these couples goes something like this: We can’t seem to find a church that’s right for us. They’ll stay at one church for several months, maybe even a year or two and then go to another one. Then, the narrative repeats. Do you see a pattern? At some point, you must search yourselves and come to the hard reality that you may be the problem.
There is no perfect church because there are no perfect people. But that shouldn’t keep us from gathering in the presence of the One who is perfecting us.
Some might think that it can be a sacrifice to give up that one chance during the week to sleep in. If you have young children, you know that it can be a challenge getting everyone out the door on time. But the sacrifice is well worth it when you connect with a faith-community that resonates with your soul.
On that note, we need to be careful about what we call sacrifice. In the western world, we might get puffed up thinking that we are making a “sacrifice” by taking 2 hours out of our jam-packed week to attend a church service. Jesus didn’t die so that you can get a high on good performance. We go to church out of love. Go back to where we talked about The Circle of Spiritual Discipline, and you’ll recall that everything we do as a Christian is but a response of love to the love God has shown us.
Being active together with the church of God, the world-wide community of true believers, will be a means for much encouragement and correction. Speaking from experience, as you do life and ministry with your brothers and sisters, you will often be reminded about how much you don’t know, and how much you must learn. At the same time, you’ll also be reminded about how faithful God has been, and how far you’ve come, by His grace.
We grow as a couple in the context of a community. We need to hear the stories and perspectives of others to be encouraged to keep doing good.
[Excerpt from Daily Altar: 7 Disciplines of a Power Couple]
"...we should not make a career, so to speak, out of misapplying Galatians 6:2. Making it known to God is often sufficient. There are some, and for this context we’ll focus on married couples, who have a habit of sharing absolutely everything about their lives. The good, the bad, and the very ugly. Be wise. Some couples misuse this command to bear one another’s burdens to avoid their own responsibilities.
Habitually coming to the church family with requests and expectations for help or intervention is not a sign of maturity.
You may be quick to share publicly that your husband has a bad temper and got into a verbal altercation with a cop when he was stopped for speeding, but did you tell God about it?
If we err too far on the side of silence, we tend to become self-reliant (so we think), creating a distance between us and our brothers and sisters. But if we spill out complaints from an attitude of self-pity or self-righteousness, in the case of a spouse who shames their partner in public, we fail to mature and become dependent on others to solve all our problems."
1. Intimacy doesn't start or end in the bedroom
Sex is holy (set apart for a specific purpose). In marriage, it is a beautiful gift, and we honor God, the Giver, when we accept the gift with joy and enthusiasm. A husband and wife honors Him when they cultivate physical, spiritual and emotional intimacy. And that's the key - all three of these areas must be cultivated.
[This is an excerpt and shortened version from the study series called 'Marriage: The Myth & The Meaning', shared with the young adults of our church earlier this year (2021)]
How it sounds: “There is one perfect person out there for me.”
Compatibility is not something you find, discover, test for, or stumble into. Compatibility is something you create over a lifetime of marriage. The biblical term for compatibility is “oneness.” Genesis 2:24 says, “they become one flesh.” You don’t find compatibility, you become compatible (Focus on the Family).
The idea that God designed a specific spouse for each person as a soulmate or perfect fit and apart from them you can never be happy is not Biblical. God does not have “the one” as your perfect spouse created from the beginning of time.
I didn't marry Daniela because she was my soulmate I married her because I love her and knew it was God's will for me to marry her. I had peace. Peace from God, not from a movie, novel or catchy love song. So much to unpack here but the order is vital. If you seek a soulmate you may end up with only that, a person who you label or think of as a soulmate, and around whom you can talk about your favorite shows, Insta-influencers, political videos, and even conspiracy theories (deep stuff). You might even get warm, fuzzy feelings, a fast heartbeat and sweaty palms...but they may have nothing to do with God. But if you seek God - sincerely, wholeheartedly - He will bless you with wisdom in choosing a spouse. A spouse who also loves God and seeks His kingdom and righteousness above all other things, including above marriage!
Whether you recently got married or you've been married for several years, intimacy is important.
The men reading this probably thought immediately of sex. Yes, that's important, but keep in mind, it's a byproduct of spiritual and emotional intimacy, just as I wrote about HERE. I'm talking about intimacy in communication. Sharing, dreaming, exploring, challenging, learning, listening, explaining, and so much more. The problem is, it doesn't just happen. You have to work at it.
Here's a simple tip: Don't start with verbal communication. Start with written communication.
For the last few years, Daniela and I have been using a journal that we write in and then give back to each other. I even drew pictures in it to make it more creative and entertaining. Make it your own. I haven't wrote in it as much as I would have liked but it's getting better. The key is to keep it somewhat consistent and the purpose is to allow the written communication to spark/lead to verbal communication. Sometimes the entries are long and deep, other times they're short and simple.
So, if you have a spouse who is not very talkative and finds it hard to keep a discussion, grab a journal. Or, even if both of you have no problems with verbal communication, this is still a great way to keep the fire burning! Start small, maybe a simple love note or a thoughtful 'thank you.'
The back and forth creates a sense of excitement and the both of you start to look forward to the next entry. When you're done writing, place the journal in a spot where you know your spouse will see it, like on the table by their side of the bed or on an office chair. Again, make it your own!
Attention all husbands (especially the newbies): Don't give your wife reasons to stress.
I know, sometimes this might seem impossible...and some of you are probably thinking, "Have you met my wife!?" LOL
The reality is, she already has enough to think about it.
After nearly 17 years of marriage (beginner here), I have made a mental (and now, written) list of some of the actions, lack of action, words, attitudes, or phrases that have triggered worry, stress or irritation in my wife. I like to think I have a good pulse on the state of our relationship but, of course, I must always keep learning. And I'd like to help you along the way. So...
As of July 2021, here is my short list of the things that will trigger stress in your wife. Yes, these are universal and commonly found in all couples who will be honest and care to admit to them.
King Solomon and his Shulamite wife had a relationship that many married couples would probably like to have (if you haven't read Song of Solomon, go read it). What was at the heart of their relationship? The Shulamite revealed one of the key characteristics. Speaking of her husband, she declared, "This is my beloved, and this is my friend" (Song 5:16). Friendship was clearly at the foundation of their marital relationship and probably had to do a lot with their romance and intimacy.
Whether you've been married for 30 years or 30 weeks, this is an important question to consider: Why do some married couples stop being friends?
I've made an inventory from my own experience and from observing couples around us. Here's a short list:
1) He/She/Both stopped meeting with God regularly
2) Something or someone else got them more excited and 'stole' their attention
3) They stopped doing things together
4) The husband settled for the low bar of simply being a provider (such a misused and misinterpreted term)
5) The wife settled for the low bar of simply being, well, a wife (she is so much more, not to get cliche or anything but read Proverbs 31)
6) Children became more important (sometimes even used as an excuse not to spend time together; a huge No-No!)
7) They stopped surprising each other (Remember how you'd do things for each other? Unplanned, spontaneous things...)
8) They stopped praying together
9) They wanted some 'space' (whatever that means); They started living independently, like a single person
10) They talked and listened to each other less and less (with their eyes, ears, and heart)
How can a husband and wife be friends again?
If you think dating websites and social media apps are destroying relationships today, you would have steered clear of cars in the 1900s (pun intended). Cars didn’t just speed up a historical shift from teenage codependence to independence, they fed the growth of an entire sub-culture.
Think about it: Buses began to drive students further from their homes. One-room schoolhouses eventually gave way to large buildings (schools) filled with unsettled crowds of adolescents and their hormones.*
According to historians and spiritual leaders, this is pretty much what started the moral decay of young men and women of teen age years and what eventually led to, or influenced in some way, the sexual revolution of the 1960's in the USA.
Things have come a long way since then.
They are way worse.
There is a new line being crossed
When talking with a younger couple, not yet married, it does not take long to get a sense of whether or not they have passed the line. (I know, some of you are thinking, Did he just go there?)
Here is a brief excerpt from the teaching series we are currently covering with the young men and women from our church (Marriage: The Myth & The Meaning). Additional resources will be available later this year, with Gods help.
1. Because your friends are getting married
If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? This is an absurd, rhetorical question, of course! The point is, you must live the life God gave you and not copy what someone else is doing. Just because it is time for your friend to get married doesn’t mean it’s time for you to get married. Plus, you may be seeing just the exterior of someone’s love life. Deep down, they may be entering marriage foolishly; don’t be envious. If anything, pray for any/all of your friends who seem to be rushing into marriage, without counting the cost.
Not a few have entered marriage because it’s the popular thing to do. Seeing everyone’s proposals and engagements on your social media feed doesn’t help the matter. All my friends are getting married, why should I be left behind? Peer pressure is so great at certain times in life that it can dull or blind your focus; some even become delinquent or irresponsible in certain areas of life such as school, work, ministry or family life. Far too many have impulsively run off to get married on a dare, or because others were doing it.
Hasty decisions can generate a life-time of bitter experiences. Marriage should not be entered into carelessly!
How can a single man or woman overcome this pressure?
a. By seeking to please God.
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
Getting married because your friends are getting married might be exciting but it can be short-lived. Before thinking of how your friends will react or seeking to fit in, be concerned with what God thinks. Is it His will? Are your motives pure? In all we do, especially marriage, we should seek to please God.
b. By growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
With God, there is always more. More to learn, to discover, to embrace. Make spiritual maturity a priority, while you are single (and after too, of course). This will be a blessing for you and your future spouse.
c. By walking/associating with wise people.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
If your ‘friends’ are causing you to awaken love at a time when love should not be awakened, stop hanging out with them. We know that whoever we associate with we tend to become like and if we’re associating with people who are Christ-like, we’ll become wise. We know that wisdom tends to rub off so why not walk or associate with those who are wise, meaning Biblically wise. The only other choice is to suffer harm from being the companion of fools (or those who don’t have the Spirit of God).
Short, Biblical lessons and free resources on all things love & marriage. A pocket-guide for married couples and for single adults who want Gods best for their life.