Did you know 86 percent of divorces are the result of what researchers call “non-severe circumstances”? That means the marriage-ending circumstances are not related to severe problems like abuse, abandonment or adultery. Instead, they are because of fights about money, kids, sex and other emotional issues. These are emotional decisions. They happen in the heat of the moment.
One of the most important characteristics of a healthy marriage is to make decisions without regard to emotions. Emotions are fickle and unpredictable. They may be very real, but they can also be very wrong.
But at the same time, we’re humans. We are emotional creatures. So, how can you keep emotions from impacting the health of your marriage? The best approach is to pre-make your decisions now. Instead of making decisions based on how you feel, make them based on what is right and what is best for your relationship.
Here are ten decisions to make today about your marriage:
1. We will never threaten divorce. You were married for life, so take divorce off the table. Don’t use threats of divorce as leverage to get your spouse to do something. In fact, take the word out of your vocabulary altogether. Work out your problems without using that word.
2. We will never go to bed angry. Work out your disagreements on a daily basis or resentment will begin to fester. If you can’t find a solution, submit to Godly counsel. There will always be times in a marriage where you can’t work out problems on your own, so get help. Getting help is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom.
3. We will never “agree to disagree.” Marriage is the longest journey you’ll take in your life, but if one spouse is going one direction and the other spouse goes the other way, you will always have conflict. Seek agreement by seeking the Lord together. Submit to God and godly counsel until the two of you can get on the same page.
4. We will respect and celebrate our differences. You are two distinct individuals, which means you won’t always look at the world the same way. Do not dishonor each other or disrespect each other because your spouse thinks differently than you. Refuse to judge each other or talk bad about each other. Instead, be thankful for the ways you are different. It makes you a better team.
5. We will give each other the right to complain and be honest without paying a price.Think of yourself as a customer relations counter for your marriage. If your customer—your spouse—brings a complaint to you, then listen to that complaint and work to make it right. Accept it with a good attitude. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t be defensive. Don’t shame your spouse for being honest with you.
6. We will be faithful to each other. Faithfulness means more than just sexual faithfulness (though of course that is a big part of your marriage vows). Faithfulness also refers to your emotions. Even during times of frustration or difficulty, never let your heart be turned away from each other to another person.
7. We will develop healthy relationships with fellow believers. If you want to know what your marriage will look like in five years, observe the couples you’re spending time with today. Divorces run in packs. You want friends who will encourage you to do the right thing, even during hard times. You also need to remain connected to a Bible-believing local church where you can hear God’s Word preached on a weekly basis. Church is where you’ll find your best friends.
8. We will make our decisions together. The two of you are equal partners. There should not be one spouse who is dominant and one spouse who is more submissive. When you are making any significant decision, both of you have equal input and both of you respect each other’s opinions. Never bully each other to change or influence a decision.
9. We will prioritize our marriage above everything else. Apart from your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship in your life. It is more important than your children, your job, your personal interests or your hobbies. Determine to work hard to meet each other’s needs, and refuse to sacrifice your marriage for anything or anyone else.
10. We will base our marriage on Christ-like love. His love never fails. Marriage is a covenant designed by God. It is sacrificial and permanent. It is not a relationship of convenience. The vows “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health” are covenant vows. That means your marriage is based on the decision to love and cherish each other and not on feelings, convenience or comfort.
Don’t make important decisions in your marriage based on emotions. If you do, you’ll regret it. Make these ten important decisions now and you’ll create a marriage strong enough to withstand difficulties, disagreements and fleeting emotions.