What Makes a Christian Marriage Work? by Anjilou and Angel Flores

It is always a mystery that in a world with billions of people, two unique individuals find each other, fall in love and get married. In our ever-changing world where keeping families together has become a constant struggle, we sometimes wonder how love can still survive and how marriage can still work; but we don’t need to worry because we know that the God who loves us so much is also the God of our marriage.  Having God in the center of our marriage eliminates our fear of failing marriage. The Love Triangle reveals God’s design for marriage as detailed in Ephesians 5:22-33. Husbands learn what it means to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and wives understand the importance of submission to their husbands. The more the couple gets closer to God, the more they will be closer to each other. The more we love God, the more we will love our spouses.

Marriage is not a matter of compatibility, but it’s a matter of commonality– having God as the common denominator in your life and mutual admiration to each other. Here are some tips from Christian couples who enjoy the Christian marriage adventure together:

 1. Put God in the center of your marriage – make sure to spend time praying, meditating God’s Word and worshipping God together. One couple said, Joining bible study groups, fellowshipping with Christian friends, maintaining individual quiet time with the Lord early in the morning each day, lifting up to God our plans and desires, these are some of the things the we put in place to support the growth in our marriage. Time might be an issue, but we make “time” for it! Putting God in the center in our marriage is a decision that we have made earlier, and we have to be religious about it.”image

2. Spend time together, date and surprise each other – there are plenty of ways to spend quality time together like strolling around the park, jogging or exercising together, sipping a cup of coffee or tea at home together, grabbing a videoke/ karaoke and singing, turning on the Xbox or Wii and dancing to the groove of whatever music, going out on a movie date, celebrating special days like birthdays and wedding anniversaries, writing notes and love letters, sending a card, a text message or an email, composing a song or a poem, giving gifts like flowers, chocolates— something that will make him/her happy and surprised. Even with the demand of children around, couples need to make time for themselves.

 3. When having a fight, at least one must stay cool- one couple said  “Silent treatment but civil to each other in front of the kids when we’re mad at each other then we talk about the issue later on when we’ve cooled off; we don’t raise our voices to each other even if we are arguing.”  A personality or preference talk can be helpful. Couples need to understand their limitation and boundaries; talk about how both of you would handle conflict ahead of time, if one needs some space, talk about it. Don’t just storm out without prior agreement. When discussion is set ahead of time, couples are aware of what to expect when conflicts arise.

4. Honest and open communication – be transparent to each other, from simple questions like “how’s your day?” to deeper conversations like  “what are we going to do with this problem?”. One couple said, “ We have undergone a lot of trials in our 37 years of marriage, and we have learned a lot because of proper communication. We make sure that we listen to each other’s idea and opinions. We make decisions together especially when it comes to our children.” Telling your partners the truth means avoiding future conflicts; however, you must be sensitive to your language and tone. Again, it is not all about what you say, but how you say it that oftentimes matters to the discussion. So be very cognizant about your words! Yes, we want you to be honest, but you have to be like an engineer who constructs a building from a preplan blueprint. You should know your goal and how you would achieve that goal!

5. Read good books for self and relationship improvement- one couple said “ we read books to enrich us as whole persons”. Reading widens our understanding about God, prayer, marriage, family, communication, business and life. Think reading as a continuous process for discoveries; like explorers learning more and more as new terrain is discovered. As we read, we learn more things about ourselves and our surroundings; as we read, we give ourselves a chance for enrichment through the wisdom from people who have had the experience and eventually learn from them. Now, how you enjoy the new things you both will learn can be intimidating at times. New learning can only be in two ways, either you enjoy the new learning and readjust your current mode of living or dispose, reject it because you don’t agree with it. No matter how you would like to treat the new discovery, you must have an intended purpose.  Your end goal is for enrichment, and stick with it. Also, it is important that you get good reading materials from trusted sources. Join a book club or read reviews about the book you’re about to read. The quality of reading is as important as the quality of sources.

6.  Intimacy and enjoying sex as God intends it to be (and lots of surprises that come with it) take time to cuddle each other, hold hands, hug and kiss. Ask your spouse what makes him/her happy in bed. One couple said, “We share our thoughts in bed.” This might not be as easy as it seems for most couples, particularly when you have not made it a habit yet to talk about things. But one good start is to just play about it or make fun of it. Try to be casual and not serious, but subtly get your message across. You know your spouse and you should know how to get them on board. It is a process. Will it happen overnight? Definitely not! But you have to start at some point.

 7. Lots of God’s grace and forgiveness – know how to compromise and forgive each other, not being hysterical nor historical, avoid digging the past mistakes. This is a common problem with all marriages; oftentimes, we catch ourselves looking back to the past mistakes because a similar event has occurred recently. This is very dangerous because we are blinded by the past mistakes that aggravate the present crisis. Be very forgiving and focus on the good side, avoid making unnecessary strings that will only dampen both of your spirit; if you were to look back, look behind good things. This will lighten up the load, or better yet, decide earlier what you want to achieve when the talk is over. Do not be confrontational, if you want to clarify some things, ask with a purpose. In order to achieve harmony even with conflicts is to have self-control. This can be a frightening experience, but with constant practice, it can be very rewarding as you both get experience on how to handle conflicts, and how you get into the habit of not asking too many questions but show more of a forgiving spirit.

8. Greet each other with a smile – start the day greeting each other “Good morning & I love you” and end the day with “Good night & I love you.” This might be too simplistic, but we should not undermine the positive effect of a smile and words of affirmation of love. On a bad day, a simple smile coupled with “I love you” is like saying subtly “It is going to be alright! I’ll be here for you!” That makes a big difference. Again, this takes some time to develop especially with personality differences, but with practice, it’ll be second nature! But a word of caution: you must not do this haphazardly, rather be genuine about it!

 9. Know who & what matters most – in today’s world we are surrounded by a lot of distractions, one couple said “We always have a family night with kids: we put our money together and get from the same- meaning we have a common fund; we don’t assign household chores, we do them voluntarily; family bonding comes first over household chores.” With the ever-increasing demands in our workplace, we sometimes forget why we work so hard anyways, and that is for our family. Oftentimes, our jobs dictate how much time we devote with our families. Now, jobs are important, but they should not hold the string especially with our families. As much as possible, work at work, don’t bring it at home! Your home is not an extension of your workplace; treat your home as a sanctuary and bringing work is a sacrilege!

10. Respect and serve each other– accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses, always be thankful to God in all circumstances. Serve each other by doing household chores. Know and honor each other’s love language- words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service or physical touch. One spouse said His love language is the acts of service so I try to do stuffs for him like ironing his clothes, cooking for him (it’s really challenging coz he cooks better than me), and mine’s love language is receiving gifts, so he makes sure that he gives gifts on my birthday and Christmas. He never fails to give flowers and chocolates on our anniversary.”

 11. Serve God together – use your talents and skills in serving the Lord; take part in the church ministry together.  Express your love for God through tithes, offering your time and talents to serve the community. Serving God together eliminates the “time issue” in many ways. Now, some might have difficulties as couples have different preferences; the most important thing is you talk about it. Discuss and agree on things together. When you put God as the center of your marriage and you both know that you love your spouses secondary to God, then you eliminate “jealousy” in many ways.  When both of you serve God, you strengthen your marriage exponentially by the binding love of God.

 12. Laugh and play together- be a kid sometimes and play together, chase each other around the house or outside, play games, find a sport that you are both familiar or you’re both inclined to, have a good sense of humor, crack some good jokes and be happy.

13. Be selfless– true love is always ready to sacrifice and give way to push our partner’s dreams and goals in life even if it means setting aside ours. One couple said, “We always bring out the best in each other.”

 14. Always remember the first time you fall in love with your spouse- the only constant thing in life is change and whether we like it or not our spouses will change over time, when the change is uncomfortable or inconvenient we always look back to that very first time that we fall in love with our spouses.

15. Never argue about money – it is important to share responsibilities in finances. Remember we can always replace the money lost but a broken heart will leave a permanent mark. Money is not evil, but the act of making it more important than our marriage is evil in itself. Money can be a powerful tool to strengthen our marriage, if you have the means, then do extraordinary things for your spouse; but if you don’t, don’t worry, it’s not all about money! The most important thing is to have an open communication and understand that money is not your marriage!

No marriage is perfect because we are not perfect as individuals but God’s love helps us overcome the trials that come our way. As God has never promised our married life to be easy, it will surely be tested. Let’s treasure God’s word in James 1:2-4 “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

Our marriage goes deeper and stronger as we overcome each and every obstacle in life. It is our faith in God and love for our husband or wife that will help our marriage work amidst all the trials and storms. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:17