Most of my counseling is with couples who are having trouble in their marriage. Many of these couples feel hopeless that anything could be done to help their situation. However, for those who are willing to continue to seek God and implement some practical steps, great strides can be made toward restoring the intimacy of partnership.
In Matthew 19:5-6 (KJV paraphrase) Jesus says: "...For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and the two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."
If we desire these two wills and minds to come together, we must be willing to work at our marriage relationship. Following are 18 practical rules for success in marriage:
- Maintain your personal attractiveness. This is important both for the husband and wife.
- Eliminate needless irritations and antagonisms. Stop the little annoying things that get on each other's nerves. Also, don't criticize or joke about each other in public, as to embarrass or make one feel inferior.
- Do not cherish feelings of resentment. Learn to forgive and forget. Don't keep bringing up past troubles that have been settled.
- Keep looking for more ways to do joyful things together; keep the spirit of courtship and romance alive. Don't neglect each other when children come along. Be attentive to them, but remember that the ties of husband and wife will last long after the children have left home.
- Be loyal. Don't talk about faults or troubles to outsiders. If you need help, talk to the Lord, your pastor or doctor, or some trusted friend or advisor.
- Neither one should try to dominate the other. Respect each other's personality, convictions and sincerity.
- Remember the importance of the little courtesies of life. Be as courteous after marriage as you were when you were courting.
- Don't keep wondering what would have happened if you had married someone else. Such dreams do no good.
- Be partners in every sense of the word. Cultivate common interests, and share your joys and problems. Always put the other's happiness first.
- Learn to talk things over at the right time and in the right place. Expect to disagree sometimes, but resolve to love always. Learn to give in and admit when you are wrong. The first one to do this usually wins in the end anyway.
- Don't try to get your way by unfair means such as getting mad, crying, sulking or other childish tricks. The right way out is through reconciliation where both parties gain as opposed to mere compromise in which both parties feel they have lost.
- Remember, the impulse to criticize others often comes from dissatisfaction within ones own self. Make it your business to always be at your best.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Put your partner first in your life, and be sure he or she knows it. This is basic in dealing with in-laws and many other problems.
- Make the best of whatever life brings. You and God can meet any challenge life presents.
- Plan your finances together. Remember, you both earn money, no matter who gets the paycheck. God should be a partner in your finances too. Try tithing and see what a difference it makes.
- Don't neglect yourself. Your body is the temple of the Spirit of God. Respect it.
- Cultivate your own spiritual life. Take time for prayer and meditation; talk daily with God and give Him a chance to talk to you.
Keep the Spirit of Hope alive by being willing to implement some of these suggestions in order for your marriage to accurately reflect to the world the relationship that God has with the church.