Who has priority in your family household—the kids? Your spouse? You? The dog? Some of you may be laughing, but I bet there are a few of you out there who are saying, “This is hitting close to home”.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’a]”> This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Every marriage is confronted with making priorities, and the priorities we choose often receive the majority of our time, resources and energy. The quality of our marriage today is likely the result of decisions and priorities we have made (or neglected) along the way.
These are the principles from God’s Word that have helped us along our near 33 year journey in marriage. Let’s dig in.
- Intentionally cultivate – growing, thriving marriages do not happen by chance; they are cultivated by years of mutual effort and radical dependence (Proverbs 3:5-6) on the grace of God. Do you have a vision of what you want your marriage to look like? Every organization expects the CEO to cast a vision, do you have one for your marriage?
- Purposeful partnering – do my words “build up” or “put down” my spouse? Ephesians 4:29 equips us, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up….” How are you speaking life into your soulmate?
- Nurture friendship – our mates should be our best friends (Proverbs 17:17). Sadly, this may rarely occur in marriages. Too often, couples get over-committed, too wrapped up being busy with their children (or work); they barely have margin to know each other. Colleen and I unfortunately learned the hard way, early on our marriage was receiving the “crumbs” and not the main course. We learned one of the best gifts of love we could give our children was to let them know that mom and dad, our marriage, is a higher priority than them. [Hint: for us, this was not easy at first, but over time it has paid great dividends].
- Develop spiritual oneness – as a couple develop this goal of becoming one by taking time to read God’s Word together and pray together. Over the years our marriage has discovered a sweet oasis as a result of learning the habit of praying together. For some of us this may not come easily, it’s worth working toward.
One of the best things you can do for your partner is love Jesus more. If we look to Christ, daily renew our minds with the truth of His Word, and believe His promise that our deepest longings are satisfied in Him, we are then free to give to our spouse without demanding anything in return.
Life is all about relationships—i.e., with God, marriage, family, school, teams, bands, church, neighbors…etc. A key discipline of building healthy, growing relationships is learning the art of saying, “I am sorry…” and asking for forgiveness. Whether married or single, old or young, a parent or child… we can all exercise our “humility muscle” more. Right? Is there someone you could apologize to today and ask for forgiveness?