What is the single most important thing I must do to improve my marriage?
– By Terry Hoskins –
Often counselors will turn to communication techniques or personality testing to improve a marriage in trouble, but both of these strategies do not lead to real heart change. They are helpful tools when significant change has already taken place inside the marriage. Real hope, true peace, and eternal joy can only be found in a God-Centered marriage! Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom and His (God’s) righteousness, and ALL these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Jesus was talking to people who were worried about the next meal they were going to eat. They were worried about how their basic needs were going to be met. Christ tells them to seek after the kingdom of God, and God will take care of the rest of what they need. Similarly, the single most important thing we can do to improve our marriage is improve our relationship with God.
As we turn to God for help in our marriage, our hearts will change and we will begin to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. As the Holy Spirit starts to work on the hearts of the couple and the fruit of the Spirit pours out of the individuals, the marriage changes forever. For example, the husband who instantly spewed out anger towards his wife in stressful situations, now handles himself with patience and self-control. The wife on the other hand who ignored her husband is now learning to love him by supporting and honoring him. Their marriage is transformed forever as God becomes the central focus.
How does one keep the affection going in a marriage?
Affections can also be called emotions or feelings. Emotions are tied to how we think and act. We cannot change how we feel, but we can start taking control of our thinking, which affects our emotions and behavior. God’s Word tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corin- thians 10:5b) When we learn to take control of our thinking and grow in self-control our thoughts and actions will bring glory to God. This change in right thinking will also result in good feelings towards our spouse. The love and affection will then flourish in the marriage.
God’s Word tells us to honor, respect, and love our spouse. This is not conditioned on our spouse’s performance, but on their position. For example, I am supposed to love my wife like Christ loved the church. This love I give to my wife is because of her position as my “wife”, which has nothing to do with her actions. I want to please God first, so I love my wife regardless of her attitude because God calls me to obedience. When I begin to think this way towards my wife then my bad feelings change because I am trying to honor my spouse, which starts in my thinking. As my thinking changes often the feelings will follow.