Many of us go CRAZY to get that important item that we just can’t live without. The television tells us. Social media shows us. It’s up close and in our faces. These kind of must-haves are just things that will without a doubt be replaced by the next, hottest must-have item next month. There are certainly some must-haves for our marriage too. However, these things aren’t anything money can buy, and they can’t be replaced by the next best thing. They are eternal and necessary, and our marriage can’t live without them.
So, what are those things that your marriage can’t live without? Well, here they are (in no particular order)…
This word gets tossed around a lot. In marriage, love takes on a deeper meaning than the love we feel for shoes or animals. We pledge our undying love to each other on our wedding day. It carries great weight with it. Love requires commitment — not just a feeling, and it is rooted in truth and transparency. Love is intentional. We can’t decide to love our spouse one day and not the next. It takes work just like tending to a garden. Love is an action that both partners must choose to do daily.
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Have you ever been around a couple who obviously don’t respect each other? It’s painful, right? How can two people who love and respect each other on their wedding day get to the point of utter disgust towards one another after being married for a few years? It happens each day we fail to take advantage of the opportunity to show respect to one another. Just like we must choose to love, we must choose to respect each other as well…even on those days when we can’t think of anything that he or she has done to gain our respect. I know this is counter-cultural, but it’s so important that we do this for our spouse. We need to let our spouse know that we appreciate what he/she DOES and, most importantly, who he/she IS. A simple, genuine compliment goes a LONG way. We can’t do it too much.
3. Mutual Submission
Submission gets a bad rap…even in the Christian community. But, it is a good thing, and God meant for it to be mutual. When both the husband and wife resist being selfish and purpose to serve one another, the marriage will thrive. Healthy marital submission occurs when we submit to God first and then to one another.
In marriage, we either both win or both lose. When we mutually submit to each other, we surrender our defenses and come together as one. When we do this, we both win every time.
There are certainly specific roles that God assigns to the husband and the wife, but I believe our culture has made seem oppressive for wives. This is simply untrue.
This should be a no-brainer, but I know too many married couples who communicate in the most unkind of ways — with words and actions — on a daily basis. This is TOXIC to our marriage and families, and it is simply wrong. We must be mindful of our words and choose kindness every time. Let’s not be kind to all of our co-workers and perfect strangers we encounter only to come home and verbally throw up on each other or ignore one another. It’s NOT OKAY. We can’t assume that our spouse “knows” that we love him/her and that we are just venting. Words hurt and leave scars.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but kind word cheers up the heart”. Let’s give our kindest words and gestures to our families and cheer them up. The world can beat us up sometimes. Our homes should be a place of peace, love, and encouragement…even when we disagree.
5. Daily communication
Again, this seems like a given, and yet so many couples struggle in this area. We need to TALK — with words — to one another. Put down the phone. Turn off the television. Close the laptop. We must remove distractions when it comes to effective communication with our spouse. Give him/her your eyes. I struggle with this too sometimes. God made us to crave connection, and in this day and age, we are more connected than ever. However, nothing replaces face-to-face conversation. Let’s give our spouse our BEST ATTENTION — not a half-hearted glance from a device. Friends, let’s put it all away and share our heart with our spouse. Dream together. Laugh together. Cry together. That daily heart-to-heart conversation is the cornerstone of true intimacy.
6. Sexual Intimacy
Sex is important. God designed it to be a beautiful culmination of love, intimacy, trust, commitment, and pleasure specifically for a husband and wife. Sex is a good thing, and it should never be abused. We shouldn’t use it as a punishment or reward, and we certainly shouldn’t withhold it or force it upon one another. In fact, we will have the best sex when we mutually submit to one another’s desires.
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7. Non-Sexual Physical Touch
Physical touch plays a vital role in our marriage, but it doesn’t always need to lead to sex. A simple hug, pat on the back, kiss, shoulder rub, foot rub, or holding of hands is an intimate gesture of reassurance for the love we feel for one another. Some couples are naturally more affectionate than others, but every couple needs to offer some non-sexual physical touch to one another. Cuddle when you watch television. Hold hands when you go on a walk. Give each other a foot rub. When we willingly serve our partner by engaging in the kind of physical touch that makes him/her feel loved, we will strengthen our marriage.
A marriage cannot survive without trust. And, it has to be earned through consistent words and actions. We can show our spouse that we are trustworthy by being open and honest with him/her every single day. No secrets. No lies. Just truth. We must be intentional about talking to one another every day and engaging in each other’s lives. When we do this, we reinforce the security and strength of our marriage, and our trust in one another grows.
Every marriage goes through difficult seasons. Some are harder than others. There will be times when we let each other down. It’s in those moments that we need to do our best to forgive one another as quickly as we can. This won’t be easy, but it is necessary to pursue healing and restoration. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that we are saying what they did is okay or that it didn’t hurt us; it just means that we are willing to move forward and pursue healing over retaliation. Forgiveness is a choice, and both spouses must actively choose to forgive one another each and every day. When we do this, more peace and understanding will be present in our marriage and family.
10. Foundation of Faith
I believe this is the most important one of all. Every marriage will go through rough patches. We are frail human beings who make mistakes and are in dire need of a Savior. I thank God every day that He chose to send his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our one and only Savior. He took on ALL of our sins — even the nastiest, most hateful, disgusting, heart-wrenching, humanly unforgivable ones. He died and paid the price for OUR SINS and rose again so we can live a life of freedom. His love is unfailing, when our love for one another falls short. His grace is ever-extended when we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive. When both the husband and wife have a strong faith in the Lord — both individually and collectively — the foundation for the marriage is strong. They can cover their marriage and family in prayer and know the peace and love that only God can provide.
If faith in Jesus is new to you, I encourage you to read the Gospels in the Bible to learn about Jesus and His tremendous love for you. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you will be perfect, but it does mean that you will know and be known by a flawless, loving God who has perfect plans for you.