Let's start with a bang, shall we?
Saying Jesus is at the center of our marriage doesn't give us some magical hall pass to walk right into a fulfilling and thriving marriage.
There have been plenty of couples who've walked into church every week, worshipped Jesus together, and are now divorced or have been on the tipping point of getting divorced multiple times. The reason is that, without knowing it, the habits in their marriage are similar to a leak in a car tire. These habits slowly suck the life and vibrance out of their marriage until one day they've become stranded in the middle of nowhere wondering how in the world they got there and how this could have happened to them. Habits, that's how. We've yet to meet anyone who have told us, "I'm really hoping that my marriage is completely unfulfilling, life-sucking, and never thrives." The reason is because that's not what anyone wants! We want a blessed, fulfilling, exciting, thriving, and amazing marriage! Our habits are what get us to either destination.
In Galatians 6:7 it says, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that he will also reap." And in 2 Corinthians 9:6 it says, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."
Our habits are "seeds" that we sow. The future harvest in our marriage will be a direct result of the seeds we are planting today. Here are 5 habits that we've consistently found in marriages that are thriving.
1. They intentionally speak life over their spouse
Without question, our words have the power to create. What we create is up to us. The Word says that we can either create life or death with our words. How do we talk about and/or describe our spouse when we're at work or with our friends? What words do we use to describe their behavior when things get heated? Do we speak life or death? When we see a marriage that is thriving, we also see two people that intentionally make the choice to speak life in and over their spouse.
2. They repent quickly and often
We are human. We make mistakes. When it comes to saying something that we shouldn't, having a toxic attitude, or making a mistake in our marriage it's not a matter of if these things will happen, but a matter of when and how often. When we are the ones who have made the mistake our first inclination is to run the other way and not confront the issue(s) at hand. As humans we are wired to avoid pain, but when it comes to the "pain of repentance" its important not to run from it, but embrace it. When we make a mistake, we need to own it, repent, and move forward in unity.
3. They pray together
Here are some pretty amazing words that come straight from the mouth of Jesus himself in Matthew 18:
"I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you."
Wow. That promise is too good to pass up! How often are we sitting down with our spouse praying together, agreeing together, and asking Jesus together about our present and our future? So many of the battles fought in marriages are fought in the natural, but when we choose to pray together we invite the supernatural into our marriage.
4. They have a servant's heart
The Bible is very clear that Jesus himself came to serve and not be served. As we pursue becoming more like Him this quality must be reflected in our marriage. Having a servant's heart is just that: the posture of our heart. With that said, how's our heart? Do we find ourselves being selfish, demanding, or belittling our spouse when they don't meet our needs? When two people choose to lovingly serve and fulfill the needs of their spouse, instead of demanding their own way, the atmosphere of that marriage will drastically change. Let’s choose to be a servant.
5. They spend time investing in their marriage
We say great marriages don't happen on accident. Most people invest in their marriages like they take care of their cars; they wait until the "check engine" light comes on to fix it. Too many people think investing in their marriage means fixing problems when they come up rather than consistent maintenance to prevent catastrophic breakdowns. What are we doing daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to intentionally invest in and create the marriage that we want? Remember the promise in Galatians 6: we will reap what we sow. If we want to reap a healthy marriage, what kinds of seeds are we sowing to get that kind of harvest?
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