“Find the right person, fall in love, set your hopes on them —that’s Hollywood’s path to finding a love.” That sounds like a great formula for a lasting marriage doesn’t it? It would be, if it worked for a lifetime —that falling in love in that manner meant “staying in love” for a lifetime. But God has a different prescription for a lasting marriage.
Chip Ingram, the president of Walk Thru the Bible, explains this in a Family Life Today radio interview titled, “God’s Prescription for a Lasting Relationship.” Chip did this interview with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.
In this interview Chip Ingram says that Hollywood is all about “finding the right person.”
Concerning Love and Lasting Marriage, Chip says:
“It’s built in our DNA that the whole thing about love is there’s somebody out there. You’ve got to go find them.
And then fall in love. It will be a dramatic, spine-tingling, oh, this look is in your eyes, and this feeling will come over you. And then set your hopes and dreams upon them. This person is going to come through and make your life.
So, step 1 is find the right person. Step 2 is fall in love. And step 3 is fix your hopes and dreams on them. But then they do have a step 4. When that doesn’t work go back to step 1. You have the wrong person, so find someone else.
And so we have cultivated and developed this idea that if you’re not fulfilled, if it’s not ooey-gooey, if things aren’t going you way, if you don’t feel accepted, affirmed, then you must be with the wrong person. So find the right person.”
Hmmm… I’m not thinking that this is exactly God’s Prescription for how we’re to conduct our lives. It certainly isn’t one for a marriage that will last. I wish we could give you a link to the rest of what Chip Ingram said on this subject. But sadly, Family Life Today took the interview off of their web site when they went through one of their purging.
However, we did come up with a list from other marriage experts that will give you some ideas on what God would have us do to build a lasting marriage.
First and foremost, for a lasting marriage:
• “Pray Together. Set aside time each day to pray with your spouse. My husband and I have found that first thing in the morning is the best time for us. We ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit and give us strength for the day ahead. It brings us closer together as we care for each other every day. We think about what the day ahead holds for our partner. Our loving affection goes beyond the physical realm to the emotional and spiritual realm. This develops true intimacy with each other and with God.
“Perhaps a better time for you as a couple might be just before you go to bed each night. It’s impossible to fall asleep angry when you’ve just held hands together in God’s presence.” (From the article, “5 Steps to Building a Strong Christian Marriage”)
This tip was written by Mary Fairchild but it is EXACTLY what I (Cindy) could have written. Steve and I are continually telling people that the reason our marriage is as loving, and strong as it is, is because we pray together. And first thing in the morning is the best time for us, as well. It might be different for you, but find and make the time to pray together each day. It’s an important precedence to make!
Additionally, for a Lasting Marriage:
• “Respond with love and respect when you disagree. Whenever you and your spouse disagree about something—which will happen sometimes, since you’re different people with different points of view—focus on understanding each other’s perspectives rather than trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. Listen to each other carefully and value each other’s opinions.” (Tony and Lauren Dungy, from the article, “14 Ways to Build a Lasting Marriage”)
Jon Beaty adds this to that issue:
“Show at least the same love and respect that you had for each other early in your relationship. After marriage, all the effort we put into impressing our future spouse usually slips away. The less attractive aspects of our character take the stage. Why do we despise the salesman who lures us in with the bait-and-switch, but use the same tactic to land a husband or wife? If we’re not the person we pretended to be when we convinced our partner to marry, we’re obligated to become that person.”
Here’s another one of Tony and Lauren’s prescriptive tips to building a lasting marriage:
• “Fall back on your commitment when your feelings falter. As your marital love matures, the intense romantic feelings you had for each other initially will fade, because they’ve already accomplished their purpose of getting you all to focus on each other. Going forward in your marriage, build your love on the commitment you and your spouse made to each other, which is much more reliable than your feelings.”
And then here’s a prescriptive tip for a lasting marriage that Steve Arterburn gives:
• “Forgive. If they’re breathing, your mate will eventually offend you. Learn to forgive.” This is absolutely vital! We’re told in the Bible, “I am warning you, if another believer sins, rebuke him; then if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3,4)
Additionally, for a lasting marriage:
• Keep your marital priorities straight. “Always keep in mind that success will wait, but a happy marriage may not. Marital problems are almost inevitable when couples overcommit themselves during the early years. The bonding that should occur in the first decade requires time together—time that cannot be given if it is absorbed elsewhere.” (Dr James Dobson, from his book, “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards”)
Here’s another one of God’s Prescriptions:
“Do not allow relationships with parents to become too important. A common problem is to ‘complain’ to a parent when we are not happy with a spouse. Some parents are always hearing negative things about their son-in-law or daughter-in-law. These kinds of things can accumulate in the hearts of parents and create resentment toward their child’s spouse.
“Other spouses go to their parents every time there is a problem to be solved. While it is true that parents can offer great wisdom, our first strategy should always be to pray things through and talk things over thoroughly with our spouse. Then, with his/her agreement, we may wish to discuss things with our parents.” (Steve Hall, from his article, “Biblical Principles for a Successful Marriage”)
Our guideline for this principle comes from the Bible where we are told:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31)
• Be intentional— make your marriage a priority. “Making a marriage last for a lifetime is something both partners have to make a priority. Couples whose marriages last celebrate their commitment to each other. Many couples make it a point not to even speak of divorce, even in anger. Solidifying one’s vertical relationship with God goes a long way toward ensuring the horizontal relationship between a husband and wife is a lasting, God-honoring one.” (From the web site, Gotquestions.org)
Here’s another important point that will help you to build a lasting marriage:
• Beware of comparing your marriage to others. “Awhile back, I read a great quote on Michael Hyatt’s blog: ‘Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.’ That’s a powerful statement that is applicable to marriages. It’s especially important to newly married couples. A newly married couple looking at another couple married 30 years might think, ‘Wow, look how they work together? It’s like they know each other’s thoughts. We’ll never have that.’
“Or more likely, the newly married man or woman is thinking about what their spouse is NOT doing. To them it appears that the older married couple seem to just automatically do things for each other. This is dangerous thinking because it ignores the process of building strength into a marriage.” (Robert Ferguson, from his article, “7 Ways to Build Strength into Your Marriage”)
Additionally, author Whitney Hopler wrote an interesting article on this same subject. In it, she gives several helpful guidelines so “you can prepare for a marriage that goes all the way” with one of them encouraging you to:
• Rewrite the story of your life.
Whether you are discerning marriage or already married, if your life story has been moving in the wrong direction, invite God to write the rest of your story His way. Learn from your mistakes. Confess your sins, and embrace the forgiveness and healing that God offers. Rely on God’s grace to grow. Recognize that your identity lies solely in who God says you are. It’s not in what has happened to you. Break free from the shame of your past by realizing that, while what’s done is done, God can work all things together for good. And you can choose to move into a better future.”
To learn more, please click onto the Crosswalk.com web site to read:
• BUILD A MARRIAGE THAT GOES THE DISTANCE
Sadly, it’s “now more common for marriages to fail than it is for them to last a lifetime.” But even so, as Whitney Hopler writes, “you can still get married with the confidence that you’ll enjoy the healthy, holy marriage God wants you to have if you invest time before getting married into asking wise questions.” And also being truthful in answering them —that’s also important.
So, below is a link to a Crosswalk.com article, in which Whitney gives and explains:
• 12 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE GETTING MARRIED
To learn more, you can read Whitney Hopler’s book, 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
If you have additional tips you can share, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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3 responses to “God’s Prescription For a Lasting Marriage”
(ZIMBABWE) Why wait until there is problem? Counseling should be sought before people even get married to help them unearth the little, yet important things, they are bringing into the marriage and find understanding for one another, and deal with those issues that need be worked at. Leaving it till problems come up might be homicidal, leading to the death of the marriage.
(NIGERIA) Please advise me. My fiance is still in school and he has no job but I have a job that has been sustaining us in our relationship. Do you think it is okay for us to talk about marriage, let alone plan it?
(USA) It could be much better for you if you waited to marry until things were a bit more financially stable (as long as you are not living together — then there is not much difference financially). Financial pressures can become problematic when you first marry because there are so many other pressures to work through. If you can wait, do …but if not, just know that you will need to work through the pressures as a team — even though you are the main income-earner right now.
The bigger issue though, is to make sure you’re compatible in other areas of your marriage. We have a lot of pages of questions that would be good for you to both go through together, which are posted in the “Marriage Preparation Tools” topic, which I encourage you GREATLY to do. You want to make sure you are able to see and work through your differences in healthy ways. THAT’S what’s most important, and that you are compatible in integrity and moral issues (such as being faithful to each other sexually, commitment to the sanctity of marriage and each other, and especially spiritual compatibility and like-mindedness. I hope you have that and wish you well.