Everyone knows that if you want to go on a great vacation, it’s not enough to simply choose your destination. You have to also plan the journey—how you will get there, where you will stay, what you will do…or your dream vacation may fall flat.
The same is true of marriage. The destination of a marriage is not determined by were we want to be, but by the steps we take to get there.
Every Christian couple I know wants a great marriage. But not every Christian spouse is willing to make the commitments that lead to that destination. These five, in particular, can set a positive direction for your marriage:
1. Commit to the Lord
The foundation for any strong relationship is first having a relationship with God through Christ. But it doesn’t end there. It is a decision to live surrendered to the Lord and fully committed to obey whatever His Word says.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.—Romans 12:1
Think of it this way: every decision that makes you a good Christian also makes you a good spouse.
A husband who loves God will also love and serve his wife. A wife who loves God will love and have a sweet spirit toward her husband.
Walking with God makes you a better spouse. So commit to making your walk with Him the highest priority of your life.
2. Commit to the Permanence of Marriage
Marriage was never designed to be a “let’s see if we like it” proposition. It’s not a 50/50 agreement in which each person is required to keep their end of the bargain for the other to stay invested. It is a 100/100 commitment that each spouse makes to the Lord and to the other.
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.—Matthew 19:6
(If you have suffered through the tragedy of a divorce, you understand better than anyone how painful the severing of a marriage is. I thank the Lord for His grace and for how He heals broken hearts. I don’t want to make you feel condemned, but to encourage you regarding your current marriage.)
Determine that regardless of the mountains and obstacles you encounter on your journey (and they will come), you are fully committed to the permanence of your marriage.
3. Commit to Solving Conflicts
When it comes to conflict in any relationship, people tend to gravitate toward one of two responses: pretending it doesn’t exist or blowing it out of proportion. Neither helps solve the conflict.
The best relational resolutions are not found by ignoring the problem or proving a point.
They are found by caring more about the relationship than the problem, seeking to understand more than to be understood, and carefully working through misunderstandings with a desire for restitution.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:31–32
4. Commit to Getting Help when Needed
Have you ever been with someone who was lost but refused to admit it or ask for directions? (Okay, I stand guilty as accused.)
But here’s the thing—when you are the one who doesn’t want to ask for directions, you think you’ll be okay. But when you are the one traveling with the person who doesn’t want to ask for directions, it’s hard to enjoy the journey.
Terrie and I made a commitment during our engagement that if either of us ever felt we needed marriage counseling, we would both seek help together. And there has been a time or two through the years that we have done this—not because our marriage was on the brink of collapse, but because we wanted to both enjoy the journey.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.—Proverbs 11:14
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.—Proverbs 12:15
5. Commit to Serving God Together
It’s easy to develop an inward focus. It’s easy to look so intently at yourself and your marriage that you get frustrated with the journey.
God didn’t make us to serve ourselves, but to serve Him and the body of Christ. One of the best ways to find joy is to serve the Lord by serving others. And, best of all, you can do this together.
In fact, one of the purposes of marriage is to reveal Christ’s love. (See Ephesians 5:25–33.) So look for ways to demonstrate His love to others. Visit a widow from your church, make cookies for your neighbors and invite them to church, invite another family over for dinner…find a ministry you can both enjoy doing together.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.—Galatians 6:10
Take the Next Step
Remember that the destination of your marriage isn’t defined by what you want it to be, but by the steps you take to get there.
So, don’t just dream about having a great marriage journey; make the commitments to pursue one.