My husband and I have been married almost 23 years. We have an old devotional book that highlights what we’ve learned about marriage over all these years. On the outside of our devotional there is a beautiful paper cover, but as soon as you pull it off, you’ll see duct tape covering the spine of the book, holding it in place. There were years seeking God in our marriage with anger, immaturity, and arguments. That book got thrown across the room and broke.
No marriage is perfect, and no beautiful marriage comes without growth. We wouldn’t be happily married today if it weren’t for the work of Jesus, His Word, and prayer transforming us as individuals and as a couple.
As we submitted to the Lord and to each other, God brought restoration. Here are a few tips that helped us:
1.) Start with yourself.
We individually had to seek the Lord. We opened the Bible on our own. We read Scripture that fed us personally. As we did this, the Holy Spirit started working on us. We read in our personal time and God began heal hurts and hang ups that the other one was not even aware of. The Lord was meeting our needs.
2.) Come together.
We set aside time to communicate and to learn about each other. We used tools — like marriage devotionals — to help us. It caused us to answer questions and communicate in deeper ways than we would have done on our own. It grew us.
3.) Pray individually and together.
Talk with your heavenly Father individually. I remember sitting in my room praying to God about the changes I wanted to see in my husband. The Holy Spirit convicted me and said, “I will take care of his spiritual growth, you be his wife.”
My job was to love my husband, encourage him, and build him up. It’s the Lord’s job to transform us.
It’s also important to pray together. There were many late nights that we stayed up hashing things out, but as we matured and learned to pray together more, the late nights got shorter. Prayer has a remarkable way of helping us see one another’s hearts. It’s humbling ourselves to the One who lifts us up.
4.) Have fun!
Laugh together! Our teenagers will look at us like we are crazy when we laugh at each other, but we enjoy each other.
When we look to our spouse to change into what we desire and to fulfill all of our needs, we put them in a position that isn’t theirs to own. We inevitably put them above the Lord and it doesn’t work. God meant for marriage to be a partnership; an enjoyment, not a hardship.
Like the beauty that shines in our individual lives from the work that Christ has done in us, is the marriage that shines so brightly as it comes together as one. (Mark 10:8) The work that is done underneath comes shining through not into a picture-perfect marriage but a beautiful picture of marriage that God holds together.