Hearing just today about yet another Christian couple separating and pursuing divorce brings me to my knees. Yet again. Tragically, this is not an unusual occurrence.
Why? What is broken in our marriages? Being Christ-followers is supposed to make our marriages different. In a 2018 Barna study, the research found that the divorce rate between believers and non-believers is statistically nearly identical.
So what do we do with this? Marriage is a sacred covenant created by God for our blessing and benefit. How do we make sure our marriage is not another divorce statistic?
Marriage takes intention. The enemy of our souls does not want our marriages to succeed. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy all that is good and God-ordained in our lives. He is looking to destroy and devour anything in our lives that would bring God glory. A functioning, healthy, growing marriage would certainly bring God glory as a stark contrast to the way the world does marriage.
There are ways to safeguard and invest in our marriages. We need to be fighting for our marriages and not fighting against our spouses.
1) Check your priorities. Of course your relationship with Christ should be your first priority, but after that your spouse should be second. Ask the Lord if you are putting your spouse before your job, ministry, kids, and most difficult of all, yourself. This takes transparency and some true self-examination. If you have not been making your spouse your second priority in life, you need to realign things, but also you probably need to have a conversation where you apologize. This will take humility and dying to self. Not popular, but you are in a fight here FOR your marriage.
2) Check your calendar. Does your calendar show that your spouse is your priority above so many other things that demand your time and attention? If you say that he/she is a priority but your time goes other places, then the reality is that you aren’t making your marriage the priority it should be. What does that look like? Investing in dating your spouse, doing things together, resting together, pursuing your spouse by knowing him/her and growing together. Your calendar doesn’t lie.
3) Check your face-time. It is easy for my spouse and me to have plenty of time where we calendar or schedule. We make time to compare schedules and make sure we are juggling things well. We connect long enough to make sure we don’t let any balls drop, but we don’t connect in a way that actually brings real connection. We need to schedule time to invest in our relationship where we are face to face. We need to make time for us. It is a lasting investment, but it doesn’t happen without intention.
4) Check your listening. Some of us are better at this than others, but it is a skill that can be developed. When you have face time with your spouse ask questions and listen! Be a student of your spouse! This is where you learn what he/she is thinking and feeling. This is where your friendship can grow!
5) Check your prayer time. Are you praying for your spouse? Your marriage? Are your praying WITH your spouse? I often get push back with this, especially from men. Many people feel intimidated about praying with anyone, especially their spouse. Maybe because prayer is an intimate conversation with God or sometimes because you are afraid of being judged or critiqued. It may take some small steps, but you want to be able to share your relationship with God with your spouse. You want to invite the person you can be most transparent with into intimate times with the Lord. It takes practice, but just as physical intimacy can initially be awkward but gets better with practice, prayer does too!
Your marriage is worth fighting for and is worth the work and investment. Don’t be lazy and overlook signs that are letting you know things need to be addressed. Open your eyes and open your heart to your spouse, before you become another statistic.
What can you do this week to invest in your marriage?