How to Have a Great Marriage, One Day at a Time

It’s just easier to tackle big things in small chunks.  I want my marriage to be happy and solid, all the time.  Since I know where my weaknesses lie, that can be an overwhelming prospect.  I know I need to stop being selfish, swallow my pride, smile more, be patient, sacrifice, compromise, grow up…. Oh boy, we’re doomed, UNLESS I view each day as a manageable challenge.  Bite-sized bits of  well-being add up to a lifetime of wedded bliss.  So here are some daily do’s and don’ts that might just spell the difference between a dreary marriage and a dreamy one.

1.  Commit your marriage to God.  First thing in the morning, whether you’re on the treadmill, carpooling, or sipping coffee on the patio, pray about your relationship.  Every day, ask God to help you be a loving spouse.  Thank God for blessing you with a life-long best friend.  Determine to make sure everything you do in your marriage glorifies God.

2.  Refuse to fall into the critic trap.  Everything gets a rating these days.  Want to know whether or not a movie is worth watching or a car is worth buying?  Check out the rating.  Whether it’s books, products, or recipes, you can look it up to see how many stars it rates.  We even get to determine whether or not we ‘like’ someone’s facebook status.  It feels like we’ve been conditioned to voice our opinion on everything.  “I like this.  I don’t like this.  I agree with this.  I disagree with this.”  How dangerous that can be in marriage!  If we’ve been conditioned to spot imperfections, the relationship will never measure up.  Don’t critique your spouse; just do your part each day to make it a 5-star marriage.

3.  Dare to be transparent.  Life is too short for guessing games.  Share your feelings.  Don’t be hard to figure out.  Be transparent in your affection.  Let your spouse know beyond the shadow of a doubt that your love is growing day by day.  Don’t fear rejection (or ridicule from others); just make the most of every opportunity to generously give your heart.  Every day, greet your mate with enthusiasm, and voice your admiration.  What spouse would hate that?

4.  Neglect the cyber world.  Is your marriage getting smothered by social media or other online activities?  Are you always looking at a screen?  Is the outside world connected to your hip?  Unplug!  Step awaaaaay from the tentacles of technology.  Do you really have to check every text, inbox message or email as soon as it shows up?  Sure there are advantages (I say as I’m blogging), but there should be some boundaries.  When the work day is over, enjoy real face-to-face time.  We have a goldendoodle puppy, and we learned real quick that as long as we take time to play with him, he behaves better.  If we neglect to stop what we’re doing to play fetch for few minutes each day, he acts up.  Forgive me for comparing a spouse to a dog, but the same basic principle applies.  Which am I spending more time with? My laptop or my mate?  Put it to the test and see if this simple philosophy enhances your marriage:  when your spouse walks in the door, everything else can wait till tomorrow.  My guess is that instead of feeling like you’re missing out, you’ll feel like you’re catching up.

5.  Don’t focus on what’s fair.  If you’re going to all this trouble to do your part, it’s easy to expect immediate reciprocation.  Well, it might take some time, or it might never happen.  The important thing is to not fixate on who’s doing what, who’s giving more, who’s compromising.  Focus, instead, on going the second mile, out-giving, and acknowledging even the smallest effort on your spouse’s part.  Miserable marriages are filled with a sense of entitlement.  There’s way more joy in looking for ways each day to offer yourself freely.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful blessing of marriage!  May I show my gratitude to You by making the most of our precious union.

Renewing our Vows

Live Brightly

At Higher Ground this year, Mandy Thomas started our day off one morning with a beautiful devotional thought.  Based on Matthew 5:16, she said our goal is to “live brightly.”  This phrase has stuck in my mind ever since.  I am thankful for the many in my life who shine consistently.

Some shine by smiling.  Such a simple thing, really, but what an impact!  I have to remind myself that my face doesn’t naturally fall into a joyful expression.  Instead, it looks rather annoyed, or “long,” as someone recently pointed out.  But I know many who are smiling every time I see them.  It lifts me up, and makes me want to smile in return.  I imagine all who come in contact with them are blessed, simply because the joy in their heart is reflected on their face (Phil. 4:4; Psa. 16:9; Prov. 10:28).   I can smile more.  Surely I can do that.

Some shine by having a positive outlook.   Their life isn’t easy, but you wouldn’t know it from their words.  They talk (and post) about the good in life, and the Source of their blessings.  They keep looking up.  Their trust in God permeates their attitude and demeanor.  Because of their serenity, others are drawn to them, and want to know the secret to their peaceful confidence.  How are they living brightly?  Their lack of pessimism and complaint stands out, and points the way to Christ (Phil. 2:14; 4:11).  If being optimistic helps others see Jesus, what does my grumbling do?  I need to remember that.

Some shine by encouraging others to see the Word.  Their posts contain Scripture.  They turn their life experiences into  teaching opportunities.  They remind us why we’re here, what the Bible has to say, and how we can make it real.  With all of the worldly messages swirling around us, I am especially grateful for those who combat it with glimpses into the eternal, hope-giving Word.  We can never get enough of that.  They shine by turning simple, daily rituals into opportunities to plant the Seed (Mark 16:15; Psa. 96:3; Rom. 1:16).   What if each day I look for at least one way to share the Word.  Will it make a difference?  Oh yes.  God’s Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  All I have to do is remember to help others see it.

Looking at how others are living brightly, I notice that none of the three ways I’ve mentioned involve money or a great deal of time.  There’s no fear of embarrassment or persecution, usually.   They’re just letting God’s love shine through them.  And I’ve been blessed because of it.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for those who spread Your love by reflecting Your Son.  

Mandy Thomas & Monique Martin (photo credit: Mandy Thomas)
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