If your marriage is less than blissful, and you feel like giving up, I can tell you from personal experience, marriages can be raised from the dead. My husband, Ron, and I had one of the worst marriages I’ve ever seen. But now we really love each other. We even like each other. You can too. Are you willing to begin anew? Are you ready to make a change for the better? (Nancy C. Anderson)
Change Your Marriage for the better?
Your marriage may or may not be “one of the worst marriages” anyone could ever see. But does your marriage need a few tips to help it grow even better? Whose doesn’t, right? Even the best of marriages can use at least a little improving for the better —ours included. Below is some great advice from Nancy Anderson’s book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage. It may give you hope to believe that YOUR marriage can improve for the better. And perhaps it may give hope to others, if you share this message with them. Nancy writes:
You’re probably thinking, “Why should I be the first to change, or how come I have to do all the work?” The answer is simple: God will work with whoever is available and give that person the strength to change. Are you available?
You already know that you can’t change your mate. But you can change your own behavior. The word change indicates a transformation, which is a metamorphosis. The word metamorphosis begins with the two letters “me.” Change begins with me. If you want a vibrant and loving marriage, make this verse your prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Address unmet needs.
If you ignore each other’s needs, one or both of you will be more tempted to “go” elsewhere. But having unmet needs is no excuse for bad behavior and going after satisfaction outside your marriage is always wrong. The Bible says —to both of you —to “be satisfied with the wife/husband of your youth.” That indicates that we should be content with our mates.
The best way to avoid the “Greener Grass Syndrome” is to water your own lawn.
If our marriages are well watered, the grass on our own side of the fence will be lush and soft and lovely. And if you’re both content and committed to your marriage, the Flirty Frank’s and Teasing Tina’s at the office, gym, or grocery store won’t be as tempting.
Maybe you’re saying, “But you don’t know how selfish my husband/wife is.” You’re right; I don’t know your situation. But I’m assuming that you chose to marry that person. For that reason they must have some wonderful qualities too. Unless your spouse is abusing you or your children, you can choose to be satisfied in your marriage.
Look for the best in your mate, not at his or her faults. Usually, the more you meet your spouse’s needs, the more he or she will want to meet yours. It doesn’t matter who plants the first seeds, because you’ll enjoy the harvest —together. It might be hard to start, but if you don’t, and your mate won’t, then who will? “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart [give up].” (Galatians 6:9)
Ask yourself, “Are you paying attention?”
My husband, Ron, recently had a conversation with his friend Earl. Earl said, ‘For years, my feet have been killing me. I bought insole cushions for my shoes and I even bought an expensive pair of arch supports. But nothing helped. So I finally went to a podiatrist.’
‘What did he say?’ Ron asked. Earl said, ‘First, he X-rayed my feet and looked at the films. Then the doctor asked me, ‘What size shoe do you wear?’ I answered, ‘Eleven.’ Then the he said, ‘No wonder your feet hurt, you should wear a size thirteen!’”
Earl shook his head as he told Ron, ‘I’ve been buying size eleven shoes since high school. It never occurred to me to measure my feet to see if they’d grown.’ His shoes had been too small for years! His feet had changed, but he wasn’t paying attention.
Have you measured your marriage lately? It’s easy to get complacent and just continue doing what we’ve always done. Since nothing ever stays the same, small changes can sneak up on us and cause some big problems.
Are you experiencing growing pains?
If you’re struggling in your relationship and feel like you’ve grown apart from your spouse, today can be the day of new beginnings. I know how lonely, discouraged, and exhausted you may feel. That is because I’ve felt that way.
I was in a marriage full of emptiness. I was the original desperate housewife, when 24 years ago, I had an affair and moved out of our house. Ron and I were both selfish, angry, and critical. But we aren’t anymore. Well… I’m still a little selfish, but mostly our lives are full of light and love. And yours can be too. We admitted our faults, asked for forgiveness, changed our behavior and decided to love each other. Our feelings eventually caught up with our actions and we slowly grew a lovely ‘green grass’ marriage in own backyard.
We learned that fighting and blaming won’t work. Commanding and demanding can’t work. Surrender works. If you surrender your heart to the Lord, and ask Him to work in you and through you, He will accomplish more than you could ever do on your own.
Ron and I still don’t agree on all issues. But since we’ve reached a compromise on most of the major ones, the minor ones —like where to set the thermostat or which one of us is a better driver (me) —won’t break us. We’ve learned to work together as a team, and that is our prayer for you. We’re told in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated. But two can stand back-to-back and conquer.”
Consider a Change for the Better
These are good thoughts to consider. We hope this will be helpful to your marriage, as you apply the principles Nancy brought to the forefront.
Before we close this Marriage Message, we want to pray for your marriage:
“Heavenly Father, We pray you will look with favor upon this marriage. We pray that in good times and in bad they will grow in their love for each other. May they resolve to be of one heart, blessed with the peace You will give to them as they seek You. In their struggles help them to know that You are there with them and will help them with their needs. Inspire them to be kind in their words and actions. Also inspire them to be considerate of each other’s feelings, and forgiving of each other’s human weaknesses and failings.
Bless them with your joy as they seek you. And in their joy help them to see that you are the source of every happiness they could ever know. Make their love fruitful. And because of the love that others see in them, we pray you will draw others to Yourself. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
May your marriage be blessed!
Cindy and Steve Wright
Here’s a Marriage Insight that continues on with these thoughts that we encourage you to read and apply:
• IMPROVING YOUR MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
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6 responses to “Change Your Marriage for the Better – MM #279”
(Uganda) I am a week and two days in marriage and I must say these articles are very warm and educative. I love reading them every day as I learn from them too. Every time I read I am stirred into doing something special for my husband. Thank you for sharing the marriages, and including me in your mailing.
(South Africa) I agree with you entirely that marriages can be raised from the dead. I know I have been there once. My husband and I were divorced in 1998 and remarried in 2001. God is a restorer of all things be it marriage, sickness, finances ,or whatever. All we need is to believe His Word. Trust Him for He is faithful and just put God’s Word in action. Thank you for sharing with us.
(South Africa) Just to add something on this great message. The water you give to your wife or husband is the fruits your bear!
In the first place God blessed a marriage in the garden of Eden. Unless God builds, the builders will build in vain. We need God to continue help us. Lets just surrender every marriage into His hands. We really need you Jesus Christ in our marriages.
What happens when we realise this issues before trying the knot. For example, during courtship, your partner has made it clear that she won’t worship in your church for some reason. What happens then?
This is an “unequally yoked” situation. It’s also an extremely important issue that could eventually divide you after marrying. And then what do you do if you knew there was a problem and yet you ignored it? The enemy of our faith does everything possible to try to divide those who claim to follow the Lord. Don’t give them more ammunition and opportunity to do so. One of the saddest division that occurs in a marriage is where the spouses are arguing and are divided over spiritual issues. That strikes close to the heart of God because He wants unity in His followers–His children.
Please realize that going into an “unequally yoked” marriage goes beyond a Christ follower marrying a non-believer. You can also be unequally yoked in the ways you approach worship–when your different approaches cause division between you. And then you are “unequal” when you can’t agree on the same church to attend together–where you go to different churches. This is especially huge when you are raising a family. Which church would your children attend? Also, what does this say to your children and to others, who don’t know the Lord, as they look at your marriage? If you can’t get past this division, what would make them want what you have in how they model their life together? How would your division draw them close to God–our “Prince of Peace?”
And most importantly, what are we told in Mark 3:25? “If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.” This is a HUGE division. It will always be a point of contention. Right now, you are forewarned about the possible division. If you enter into marriage knowing this, how can you rationalize this to the Lord later when huge problems occur (which this issue will)?
NOW is the time to work through these types of situations–before you would consent to marry. Don’t enter into an unequally yoked marriage willingly. You’re being warned ahead of time. Work through your issues. If you can’t, then that will give you a glimpse into the dividing type of marriage you would willingly enter. Heed the red flags here. Love will only go so far when you have such a huge mountain dividing you and the enemy of your faith pounding away at both of you to stand firm in your division.
As much as you love this woman, don’t marry if you can’t be united in your spiritual life together. Spiritual intimacy is extremely important in marriages. You will have other differences you will need to work out. That is only natural. But when you are facing this huge spiritual giant before marrying and you ignore it, you will suffer BIG time after marrying. We are warned not to enter into an “unequally yoked” marriage for a very good reason. God knows the perils. You need to take His warning very, very seriously! I pray you will.