The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love. – Stephen Kendrick
About 42% of first marriages end in divorce when married for an average of eight (8) years. While 75% of divorced people will eventually remarry, these marriages are much more difficult with 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages ending in divorce.
The hidden cost of divorce is that it leads to greater poverty for women and children. Almost 44% of divorced women fall into poverty after their divorce and their incomes are 42% lower than families with two parents.
My sharing of these numbers is to confirm the obvious. Marriages are good for adults and children. Lifelong marriages are a blessing to family and community. So if you and I want a Great Marriage, how can we build toward a Lifelong commitment?
While we can see long-term marriages in the Bible, there is little shared about how they specifically maintained them. With that in mind, here are some of my personal recommendations for building a life-long commitment, with biblical support.
Pray for each Other
There are many needs for prayer, but your spouse deserves your most intentional prayers. This is challenging when we are in conflict but every answered prayer for your spouse is a blessing to you. So pray selfishly for them.
You can pray for their wisdom, insight, faithfulness, favor from God, health, healing, reconciliation, growth, sinful habits, priorities and goals.
Focus on being Friends
Marriages that build emotional intimacy last. These couples find ways to enjoy doing things with each other and value their relationship. They find ways to have fun when they are broke, flirt when they are tired and listen when they are frustrated. Friendship in marriage is something we often overlook, but it is essential.
If you are married, you will have regular conflict. That’s normal and healthy because it recognizes we are different and have different perspectives.
Sad marriages avoid conflict and sweep it under the rug where it festers in silence. They assume ignoring conflict will resolve it.
Great marriages are free to disagree but they understand the superpower of forgiveness and reconciliation. If you need help, download and read this material.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13
Focus on Growth
Living things always grow. If you and your marriage are not growing, then you are probably entering a dangerous time.
Growth is both personal and joint. Look for ways to grow spiritually. Learn more about your unique gifts from God. Read books together, attend classes, attend or serve in a ministry together ( re|engage anyone?).
Lovingly challenge each other to keep moving and you will be investing in the most valuable relationship in this world.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Leverage Your Strengths
Identify what you do best or better than your spouse, then look for ways to leverage those unique strengths. Who is best at managing money? How about discernment? Or finding good deals? Or hearing from God? Who is most organized? Most social? Most comfortable with making risky decisions? Best at cooking?
Find ways to leverage and complement each other’s gifts so that God can work through you both, for your joy.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 12
Protect your Intimacy
Decide today that your marriage relationship and it’s health is more important than your job, your career, your kids, your extended family, your next promotion, your career ladder, your hobbies, your friendships, your ministry, and your sin struggles.
Then collaborate on ideas to strengthen your intimacy. That means finding time to be alone, together, engaging in conversation, about things that matter, regularly.
But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.
1st Corinthians 7:33-34
“Til death do us part” is the best soil for a marriage relationship to grow in. With long-term commitment comes the opportunity to build deep trust.
Only with trust will you have the security to grow, live, learn and love with real transparency.
Your intimacy is fragile. It will not mature without specific boundaries and support to protect it.
Anything we do, which erodes commitment to our marriage, is stealing from our future happiness and heavenly rewards.
Give honor to marriage,
and remain faithful
to one another in marriage.
Discuss these Questions if you want to have a Great Marriage!
The longest recognized marriage lasted 86 years. How old would you both be if you were married that long?
Rank yourselves from 1 (low) to 5(high) on the six (6) ideas above. What are you excelling at? What needs more focus?
What are the reasons behind your areas of low and high ratings?
Read this article and discuss:
Secrets of a Long Marriage (There are videos in this article I do not recommend, just read it!)
What idols have you placed above your marriage relationship, but now need to be torn down?