Yesterday my wife and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage. Over those 14 years, God has been pleased to teach this poor sinner a few things about being married and how to experience it with joy and hope. Here are my Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Marriage Full of Joy and Hope:
10. Know Your Spouse. What does your spouse enjoy? Know what would be of particular benefit to their joy, and if possible, seek to do it.
9. Appreciate God Ordained Roles. God has made men and women different on many levels. These roles are for God's glory and our good. When we learn to walk in them and to find our satisfaction in them, we find joy and hope.
8. Public Display of Affection. I have learned and am still learning to receive and give this most important aspect of marital relationship. We all need to be affirmed physically with a touch and a look. My wife does this well. I could do it better.
7. Speak Well Of Your Spouse. Never, but never, make derogatory remarks about your spouse in the company of others. Give others the assurance that your spouse has your confidence. Believe me, your spouse will eventually hear of it, one way or another.
6. Publicly Commend. When given the opportunity, be complimentary of your spouse in public. Thank God for them and how God is using them to make you more Christ-like.
5. Serve. Give up your comfort for theirs. In fact, find your joy in bringing them joy. My wife puts me to shame in this department.
4. Love Your Children. Any parent will tell you that they are inclined to love those who love on their children. Most spouses are no different.
3. Keep Sex Fresh and Selfless. Intimacy in marriage is one of the first things to go sour when a marriage begins to fade. So keep it fresh. Learn what your spouse enjoys and learn to do it well. Also (especially for men), seek the satisfaction and pleasure of your spouse before your own. Remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Forgive Freely. If more of the couples I counsel with could learn to not be offended too easily and to forgive even before their spouses ask, they would find that their joy and hope would be greatly enhanced. Most of our bitterness is due to unforgiveness. Make forgiveness a lifestyle, rather than an event. Know that sooner or later the shoe will be on the other foot.
And the number one way to keep your marriage full of joy and hope...
1. Love God and the Gospel. Jesus said it best when He told us to Love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourself. The glory of the gospel is that we know that in our unloveliness, we have been loved by God. In return we can love our spouses even when they are unlovely. Not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is. Not because of what our spouses do, but because of what Christ has done.
The Gospel makes all the Difference!