“Make marriage your #1 priority after your relationship with God.” (Ellyn Sanna)
Are you doing that? Are you making your marriage a priority in your life —to embody the love of Christ as the center of your marital relationship? Please know that your marriage is priority to God. You can see throughout the Bible that God portrays marriage as a visible picture of Christ’s love for the church. That shows that it’s important to Him. The question is, if God places marriage in such a high priority, shouldn’t you? Below are a few thoughts for you to consider on this issue from various marriage “experts.”
First, please recognize that:
“Being married isn’t a decision you make once and then you’re done with it. The wedding ceremony doesn’t magically transform us into married people. Instead, being married is a lifetime process —one we must commit ourselves to again and again” (Ellyn Sanna).
As Susan Yates points out,
“The marriage ceremony isn’t like a graduation ceremony; rather it’s similar to the first day of kindergarten! It’s not the culmination but the beginning.”
“Marriage has no automatic pilot. You can’t flick on a switch and lean back and forget about it. You have to stay at the controls, making adjustments, making it work. Every day you have to decide to love your mate.” (Dr Kevin Leman)
For some reason many people think that because we enter into marriage in love, our love will automatically continue to grow for each other after the wedding without putting work into keeping it going strong. That type of reasoning is a lot like saying, “My car is filled up with plenty of gas today, so it should be fine to keep driving it from now on without doing anything else to it.”
As Dr Steve Stephens says about this way of thinking:
“It’s a sad state of affairs when we take better care of our cars and houses than we do our marriages. We change the oil, fill the tank, and periodically tune up our cars. We change light bulbs, wash windows, paint walls, unplug toilets, and re-roof our houses, but what do we do to maintain our marriage?
“The truth is: more damage is done than repairs are made. How important is your marriage? Is it more important to you than your car or your home? Are you willing to put in the time and energy and whatever else it takes to prove to your partner how valuable the relationship truly is to you?”
Ask yourself this question: DO you put in the effort that shows your marriage is a top priority to you?
Steve and I (Cindy) have found that having a good, God-honoring marriage takes a lot of work to maintain it. It takes making continual choices in small and large ways to choose each other’s best interests. If I make a choice that hurts Steve, it also tears against the relationship GOD wants us to have with each other. In doing so, I displease God and please the enemy of our faith —which is the last thing I want to do. (The same is true when Steve makes choices that hurt me.)
Marriage is designed by God to send a strong message together to the world that because of the marital vows we took, we go the extra mile for each other —being lovingly supportive.
“But the plain fact is that most of us don’t take marriage as seriously as we should. We get so caught up in all the other demands that our marriage and the quality of our togetherness fall to the bottom of our “to do” list.” (Evelyn and Paul Moschetta)
“In juggling our busy lives, it’s easy to let our marriages fall into the background. We never say our marriages aren’t important —yet we act as through they’re not. Almost any time management book will tell you that one of the first steps toward using your time more effectively is to write down your priorities —and then use your time in a way that reflects those priorities. That may mean we have to say no to other responsibilities and pleasures.” (Ellyn Sanna)
And even though that means sacrifice on our parts, it’s what we signed up for when we married.
Lets face it:
“Marriage is difficult! There is a lot of real life going on in marriage with ups and downs, dreams attained and dreams lost. Real-life marriage is hard. It’s a balancing act of jobs, children, friends, and in-laws, paying bills, cooking meals and maintaining a home. Not only these, but we also deal with transitions to different stages of marriage —adjusting as newlyweds, working dual careers, having kids, kids growing up, moving, changing jobs, and growing older.
“Often the one we’re supposed to love most is lost in the confusion of life. You need to put activities into your life together to help you to enjoy and encourage each other as husband and wife as well as to foster talking, learning and growing together.” (Kandi Arnold)
It’s important to realize that LOVE is an act of will —both an intention and an action. The Bible says, “Let us not love with mere words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
It takes both saying it and proving it through what we do for our spouse that shows you truly love.
“We all live by priorities. These priorities are revealed most often by our actions. Answer these questions: ‘how do I spend my time? How do I invest my money? How do I use my energy?’ Then you’ll have the answer to the question, “What are my priorities?” (Gary Chapman)
So, how do you make sure that your priorities —the intentions of your heart line up with your actions? Here are a few suggestions:
• Pray. With a sincere heart ask God to reveal what’s out of line —what needs to be changed. Ask God,
“Search me O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
• “Balance the parent role. One of the worst mistakes a parent can make is to allow children to take priority over a spouse. While you might think you’re simply helping your children, it doesn’t work that way. Focusing primarily on the children can threaten your marriage’s stability, and when your marriage loses stability, your children will suffer.” (Dr Steve Stephens, from the Growthtrac.com article, Make Your Spouse a Priority)
• “Act out love to experience feelings of love. One of the mysteries of keeping a softened heart is that we must continue to act that way even when we don’t feel that way. When our emotions are upset or difficult to control, we need to still speak and act with a softened heart. Even if we are out of sorts, our feelings will eventually catch up with our right actions.” (Bob and Cheryl Moeller, from the Growthtrac.com article, His Needs, Her Needs)
• “Provide genuine, meaningful affirmations regularly. “Gee, your hair smells terrific” may be appropriate, but affirmations like “You do so much to keep our family working. I can never thank you enough for all you do” are more powerful and meaningful for making your spouse feel special. Affirmations come in all shapes and sizes: from verbal affirmations given in-person, to voicemail or e-mail messages to notes and cards.” (Jim Burns, from Cbn.com article, Make Your Spouse Feel Special Again)
• “Talk with your spouse about how you two can make your marriage a priority. Pull out your calendars. See when you can set aside time for just the two of you.” (Gary and Barbara Rosberg, from the Crosswalk article, Is Your Marriage a Priority?)
• Search the Scriptures for help with this mission. “If you want to determine what the correct priorities in life should be just search the Scriptures to see what was important to Christ and then follow His example.” (From Covenant Keepers article, Adjusting Your Priorities) It would be good to do this with your spouse as something you do together.
• Then actually follow through with the wisdom you’ve been given. Make it a priority to do so. “Knowledge is the acquiring of facts, understanding is the interpreting of facts, but wisdom is the application of facts.” (Dr Edwin Louis Cole)
If in the future, you find yourself sliding backwards in your commitment to make your marriage a top priority then re-work the plan. It’s difficult to stop the inertia of allowing this to happen. The very definition of “inertia” in the dictionary is “the tendency to keep moving in the same direction, unless affected by some outside force.”
So, apply the force it takes to change the inertia of allowing other pressures to interfere with making your marriage your number one priority. We hope you will.
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)
Cindy and Steve Wright