June is finally upon us, and although we are still technically a few weeks away from the first day of summer on the calendar, one thing can be said about this time of the year– weddings galore! I’m sure you know at least one couple who is getting married this summer or who are at least celebrating their anniversary in June, July, or August. It is truly a very popular time of year to get married– so much so, that many people call it “wedding season.” I guess my husband and I wanted to go against the norm, as we so often do, and went to the opposite end of the calendar and got married in December.
December 5, 2009. It may have only been eight and half years ago that we said our “I do’s,” but that special day sure does feel like a lifetime ago.
Time tends to do that to us, doesn’t it?
Perhaps, this feeling isn’t the fact that physical time has gone by and that we have grown another year older. Perhaps, it is because with time comes change – for better and for worse. I know my husband and I have each changed since December 5, 2009, especially after we both became parents! Oh my, did we experience changes in our marriage once that happened! Often, in marriage, the changes may happen slowly or small enough that we don’t notice it right away, but when it comes to the person we have vowed to spend the rest of our life with, it is difficult to ignore when you finally realize that time has shaped you each in unique ways and it is starting to cause a lot of friction between the two of you.
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"Sometimes all of this friction and struggle may cause us to want to throw in the towel."
Problems and arguments arise and increase. We may get on each other’s nerves a lot. Instead of talking it out calmly and sharing our hearts with one another, we build walls around our heart to keep the other person out. We may want to spend time with someone who understands us better. Sometimes all of this friction and struggle may cause us to want to throw in the towel. When things get hard in relationships, calling it quits seems like the easy thing to do, right? After all, this isn’t the person you first married. So many people who are wrestling with this, feel stuck, and don’t know what to do or where to turn. The D-word may even have come up a time or two.
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"But take heart! There is hope for your marriage."
But I can say emphatically, divorce is not the answer! You can experience personal changes in your lives individually and still stand the test of time and grow stronger together! This might sound impossible. And honestly, in our own broken and weak human strength, it is.
But take heart! There is hope for your marriage because Matthew 19:26 tells us that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! Even if you were not a Christian when you got married but found Christ later on (or if you stumbled upon this website and are not a Christian at all), know that you cannot love your spouse and stay committed to them without God’s help. Without God’s love shed abroad in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of loving another person unconditionally.
“We love because [God] first loved us,” 1 John 4:19.
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"If Jesus is not at the center of it, your marriage will inevitably struggle."
Before we can even talk about how to stay committed in marriage when you and your spouse begin to change, we have to make it plain that if Jesus is not at the center of it, your marriage will inevitably struggle and fail miserably. With that being said, even if you are intentional about keeping Jesus at the center of your marriage, there is no step-by-step guide to have a successful and thriving marriage, but there are things we can implement to help strengthen it. Thankfully, when we make a commitment to put God first within the marriage, He gives us grace and wisdom for the journey together.
Below are some practical ways we can remain committed to our spouse even as time begins to change us:
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1. Study the Word of God regularly
The Bible is full of truths about God, who is Love Himself (1 John 4:8). The more we dive into His Word, our selfish minds are renewed to think like He does and love like He does, extending the same grace and mercy we have received from Him to others. The Word transforms us from the inside out, all for the better, and we begin to see the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) develop and mature in our life, which we need to fully love others.
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2. Pray for your spouse often
There is nothing more powerful we can do for our spouse than to pray for them, especially when we see that they are changing negatively, perhaps by straying from living honorably before God and struggling to show love toward you. Instead of pointing out flaws or wrongs constantly, be honest with them, and ask your spouse how you can pray for them. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” James 5:16.
God is the only One who can change someone’s heart and life. Don’t just pray for God to change your spouse but pray and ask God to help you love your spouse in the midst of the difficulties and obstacles. Your circumstances may not change right away, but you will be surprised at how God changes you in the middle of those circumstances and you begin to see your spouse how God sees them – with eyes of mercy and grace.
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3. Pray together as a couple
Just like praying for your spouse, praying together as a couple is even more powerful because you are coming to the Father about your marriage as a team. All issues and problems are brought before the throne of God, knowing that He alone can strengthen your marriage and help it thrive. In prayer, you are unified in faith in God that He hears your cries, pleas, and thanksgiving and longs to give you the grace to stand the test of time and see that your marriage is a light to the world because Christ reigns supreme in it.
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4. Be quick to forgive and quick to apologize
Because we have been forgiven through the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must forgive others. We have received such great mercy, therefore, we must extend that same mercy to our spouse, even if they have wronged us or offended us. Matthew 6:14-15 is an alarming verse that should encourage us to always be quick to forgive. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” No matter what was said or done to us, there is no way around it, we must forgive. When we are quick to apologize, because of humility, our heart is free of bitterness and pride and selfishness.
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"Jesus is our example of how to love one another."
Obviously, there are so many other ways we can ensure our marriage has a solid foundation that not even time can shake it or destroy it. Just like how our individual lives must be founded upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, most importantly, our marriages must have that same foundation. Jesus is our example of how to love one another, selflessly and unconditionally. We see the connection between Christ’s sacrificial love and earthly marriage in Ephesians 5: 22-33. It says the husband is to love His wife as Christ loved the Church by giving His life for it, and the wife is to respect and honor her husband.
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"God gives us the grace to do that."
God gives us the grace to do that. Ultimately, the same Love that brought you together and made you one flesh is the same Love that will help you stay committed to each other as the years pass all for the glory of God. Look to Him.
Emily Rose Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20's, and recently released her first book, Yielded in His Hands (eLectio Publishing). She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma and serving in her local church with her husband in television, worship, and youth ministry. Believing she has been forgiven of much, she loves much, and desires to point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power. If you would like to connect with Emily or learn more about her book, you can visit her website: www.emilyrosemassey.com.
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Originally published Friday, 08 June 2018.