As the leader of a couple’s class, new Christians will often ask me: “What are the main ingredients to having a happy marriage?”
It is a legitimate question, but the truth is—there is no secret that can transform an average marriage into a state of marital bliss. However, if we learn to put forth energy to meet the needs of our spouse, we will reap the benefits of a fulfilling marriage.
When couples marry, they often have high expectations for their partner. But not all needs can be met by a spouse. Some are only intended to be met by God, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
When we try to meet our spouse’s deepest needs, we usually begin by meeting the needs that we value most. But the needs of each individual are often vastly different. Even with the best of intentions, efforts can be a complete waste of time and ultimately fail to satisfy our spouse’s unspoken expectations. We must intentionally invest in our relationship. Here are a few basic truths to keep in mind as you seek to please the Lord by meeting the needs of your spouse:
Discover and rediscover your spouse’s needs. Your spouse is unique. We may joke about the extent, but it is by God’s design. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14). Only your spouse can communicate to you what makes them feel loved, valuable, and closely connected. Determine to grow by asking your spouse thought provoking questions—the kind of questions you asked when you were dating.
Learn how to meet the needs of your spouse. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel…” (1 Peter 3:7). Pay attention to what pleases your spouse, and consistently do those things. When you sense your spouse is tense or frustrated with home life, refuse to elevate the tension by taking it personally. Instead, take the challenge of learning how you could have prevented the situation. Ask the Lord to help you change—this is key.
Don’t just meet your spouse’s needs—exceed them. God has used this basic idea to transform Susanah and me. It is not just high maintenance people who have needs. Your spouse has needs! They are either consistently met or consistently neglected. Scripture commands us to love our spouse by meeting their needs “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself…” (Ephesians 5:33).
Here is where applying this principle can really get fun! If you know your spouse has reoccurring needs, why wait for the depletion to surface before investing in your marriage? Anticipate their needs and look for opportunities to pursue the heart of your spouse.