4 principles for a strong marriage

I love weddings. It’s so fun to be a part of people celebrating their relationship and making commitments to each other. Weddings are a great date with Ashley (without kids!) that remind us when we walked down the aisle together. Being a pastor that gets to help with pre-marriage counseling, I get to see the amount of work people have to put in to prepare for their marriages. Being a pastor that also does marriage counseling, I see the need to continue to stay strong and invest in marriage. We need strong marriages from the start and strong marriages that last.

I love weddings, but I also love anniversaries. It’s a joy to see people who keep celebrating and working on their relationship. Marriage is something worth committing to and to keep caring for. It takes work and focus to keep building and growing in relationship with your spouse. Whether you are just getting off the plane from your honeymoon or are getting ready for the 20 year anniversary, the goal is to have strong, God-honoring marriages on every level.

Marriage is the most important relationship we can have as people. The Bible gives us a framework on how to have solid relationships in Ephesians 4:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” - Ephesians 4:2-3

From this passage there are four practical principles to start strong and stay strong in your marriage.

1. A STRONG MARRIAGE takes humility.

Humility is key to any relationship, but especially in marriage. Humility is having an accurate view of yourself, realizing that you are strong in some spots and have lots of work to do in others. It takes a strong person to admit they don’t have it all together.

Marriage is worth committing to and keep caring for.

It is hard to put down your pride. God uses the humility you show each other as an example of how Jesus humbled himself to his Father. Humility is key to show love even in difficult situations, because we know that we have many areas where we fall short. Make it a goal to bring humility to every aspect of your marriage.

2. A STRONG MARRIAGE needs patience.

There are times in any relationship, including marriage, where you will struggle. Patience assumes that life isn’t perfect, and it’s a choice to trust God and to wait on him. You need this day 1, you need this when toddlers are running around, and you will need it when the kids move to college. There will be times when you will disagree or hurt each other. There will be multiple times in life where you will need to endure through hardships together, where you feel like all you have is each other. You will both have to be steadfast through disappointments, unmet expectations, episodes of miscommunication, and selfish decisions. God is patient with us. In your marriage, be patient.

3. A STRONG MARRIAGE says “I’m sorry” & “I forgive you.”

People sin against each other. It even happens in marriage. As a Christian, your life consists of breathing, sinning, saying sorry, and forgiving other people. The greatest example of love you can show each another is to be able to forgive, to acknowledge fault, accept repentance, and advance together. We forgive because we have been forgiven by God. Because God has forgiven us by His Son we can be honest when we mess up and be quick to forgive and move forward. He gives us the way to approach marriage, with love and forgiveness.

4. A STRONG MARRIAGE points to Jesus.

Peace is given to us through Jesus. You want to have something to celebrate in your marriage? There is nothing greater for your marriage than the peace you have with God through Jesus, and nothing more beautiful than you extending that to your spouse. A relationship defined by peace shows the people around you a picture of your Savior. You need Jesus to have peace, both individually and as a couple. He is the perfect example of leadership because he loved and served his people. He is the perfect example of submission because he obeyed his Father all the way to dying on a cross. He is the one who gives us peace because of the cross, and the way we love and stay at peace with each other points right back to Him.

Marriage is a lot of hard work, but marriage is amazing. In the midst of it, be humble, patient, quick to say sorry and to forgive, and look at Jesus all the time. Keep doing that more and more and watch your marriage get stronger. Start strong. Stay strong. Your marriage is worth it.