When God created the world, the first thing that He declared not good comes in Genesis 2:18. He made the heavens and the earth, the animals and birds, and after he made Adam he said: “It is not good for man to be alone.”
And so He made Eve.
Had Adam and Eve rejected the temptations of Satan and remained in the paradise of Eden, it can be assumed that there would be no difficulty for them to maintain a strong marriage. Yet marriage has a difficult time throughout the pages of Scripture. Most biblical heroes in the Old Testament have multiple wives and concubines. And marriage continues to have a difficult time today, as we consider statistics on divorce and experience the busyness and pressure of our own lives.
Yet God still desires for us to maintain a strong marriage.
And let’s be honest – so do we! No one gets married expecting to suffer together through years of conflict. The marital relationship sets the tone for family life, and if it is drudgery then the home will be tense, shallow, and unstable.
So don’t wait until your marriage is in trouble to begin to focus on it. The more that we invest in our marriages today, and every day, the stronger they will become. And healthy, strong Christian marriages not only bless the husbands, wives, and children who enjoy them, but also show an unbelieving world the goodness of God (see Ephesians 5).
Here are four tips to maintain a strong marriage.
- Invest in spiritual intimacy. Pray together. Read God’s Word together. Attend church together. Serve together. Yes, we each need a personal relationship with God, but couples are strengthened by sharing that relationship with each other.
- Invest in communication. Talk regularly. Talk about important things as well as daily experiences. Share emotions, decisions, doubts, fears, and joys. Schedule time for checking in about the calendar, dating each other, reviewing the budget, and other important aspects of your relationship.
- Invest in physical intimacy. Husbands and wives are called to give themselves to each other joyfully. While this certainly goes beyond sex, it does include sex! When sexual intimacy declines, couples are in trouble. Invest the time and emotional needed to show each other how much you desire them.
- Invest in clear boundary setting. Life can get busy, and it is easy to spend time – maybe a little too much time – with people outside of our marriage. Consider your schedule, your social media accounts, your work commitments, and the people with whom you spend your time. Make sure both spouses are on the same page about healthy boundaries. No one purposefully steps onto a slippery slope, but our outside relationships can quickly take a turn that we would never have planned.
Good, enjoyable, healthy marriages do not just happen. We cannot go on autopilot and expect to wind up somewhere that we actually enjoy. Be purposeful in your marriage and invest in the relationship daily.
If you aren’t sure where to start, start in Scripture. Read a chapter a day together, alternating who reads the chapter out loud, and then each share one thing that jumps out to you. Maybe it encourages you, or maybe it challenges you. You’ll see each of these areas above jump out in the pages of Scripture – and, of course, so much more!
Some helpful books on this topic may be:
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman