When they get married, every couple sets out to have a happy marriage. Couples often have ideas about how to achieve this happiness, often focusing on their own needs rather than the other person’s needs. When those needs go unmet, however, it can quickly turn into discontent, causing the couple to turn on each other to look for fulfillment. But that fulfillment only comes from Christ. Couples buy every self-help book or other resource to help them have a happy marriage. They may also go to counseling to work on their issues, which is a great first step. But there are some things couples can do to give themselves the needed attitude adjustment. Here are five simple habits for a happy marriage:
Couples who are unhappy in their marriage need to ask themselves: are my needs focused on myself or the needs of my spouse? When each spouse vows to take the focus off themselves and place it on their partners, they can have a more fulfilling marriage. Seek to put your spouse first in everything. This can range from simply helping out with chores to sacrificing your time and resources to take them out of a toxic situation that is harming them. Marriage takes sacrifice. But in this culture, sacrifice is a thing of the past. Couples often feel if their needs are not being met, they can simply get a divorce or put up a boundary that does not leave room for open, honest, and direct communication.
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
People who take this verse out of context believe the woman must allow the man to do whatever he wants. But a man who is doing his part to give himself up for her and put herself first as Christ did for the church will find a woman who wants to submit to him. This passage directs couples to put each other first. When each person can put aside their own selfish needs and focus on the other, they’ll have a much easier and ultimately happier marriage.
2. Put Christ at the Center
Above all else, couples need to put Christ at the center of their marriage. That means seeking the Lord on every decision moving forward. This is everything from how to spend their money to how to divide household chores and to how to raise their children. As humans, couples will run into issues that cause this conflict. But if both seek the Lord and his will for their lives, it will be easier for them to yield to the Lord and not to their own opinions. Christ sought for couples to have easier lives if they are yoked together with someone who has the same beliefs and perspectives. For the areas in which they disagree, Christ asks them to put aside their differences, cast their cares upon the Lord, and watch him work as they seek his will for their lives.
3. Be Good Stewards
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Couples can have a happier marriage if both seek to be good stewards of what God has given them. This means both people caring for their home, their bodies, their children, their finances, and possessions, among other things. While we all make mistakes and are far from perfect, if each partner has good time management and dedicates a portion of their time to care for the things God has given them, it will demonstrate how much they care for each other. Another great way to be a good steward is to make time for each other. Investing in your marriage is an investment in the covenant between man and wife. This is also an investment in the gospel message as it seeks to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. If couples are doing everything they can to achieve intimate connection communication and striving to make each other better in their relationship, taking care of other areas of their lives will become much simpler.
4. Leave and Cleave
Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” A couple needs to understand that once they get married, they are no longer bound to their former immediate family. This Scripture dictates that husbands and wives must come together to create a new family unit. This does not mean they have to forsake their parents and siblings altogether, but rather re-prioritize so their spouse is a part of their new family. That new family should come first, period. For example, if there is a conflict between parents and spouse, the spouse’s feelings, opinions, and perspective should come before the parent’s.
This is the same for any children. While the children are a necessary part of the family unit, you must put your spouse and their feelings ahead of your own children’s. You have eighteen years with your children, and then they grow up to have their own lives. But when you got married, you vowed to be with your spouse “till death do you part.” You’ll be with your spouse much longer than you’ll have your children in your home. Set a good example of what a healthy marriage will look like by putting each other’s opinions first, even if there are moments when you don’t agree with your parenting strategy or the other’s perspective on life.
5. Set Good Boundaries
Although both couples vow to share every part of their lives together in a marriage, there are times when couples need to set good boundaries with each other in situations where trust has been broken, or unhealthy patterns develop. Part of your vows and marriage is to honor one another. But when the trust has been broken, or one person consistently violates someone else’s space, proper boundaries must be put in place for a happy marriage to be sustainable. Talk openly about this situation and let the other person know the boundaries you were going to set. Don’t simply set the boundary and then not communicate why and what you are doing. It will be unfair to your spouse if they violate that boundary to understand where the line ends and where their access to you begins. If the partner consistently crosses over boundaries because of control or selfishness, ask them to seek the help of a professional to help them process why they do what they do. It is not honorable for someone to constantly break boundaries and create unnecessary emotional stress. Seek to set these boundaries for her time and then remove the boundaries once you feel the person has repented. Slowly build back your trust by granting them greater access to your thoughts, emotions, and feelings.
Marriage can be one of the most difficult relationships in your life. But it could also be the most rewarding. Although our true happiness only comes through Christ Jesus, Jesus places men and women in marriage covenants so that they can achieve the same contentment and joy we will feel with Jesus in heaven. By putting the tips above into practice, you may find a healthier and happier marriage in the new year.
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Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
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