When something is valuable, we take care of it. When something has the potential to appreciate in value, we invest in its upkeep, preservation, safety, and appearance. The writer in Hebrews 13 reminds us that “Marriage is honorable … ” Another translation sheds light on this by telling us that “Marriage is precious.” If your marriage is precious, are you investing in it? If so, how do you do it? What is the coinage you place in the bank of marriage with the hope of reaping long-term gains?
There is little question that this endeavor will involve time. It will mean sacrificing to make time for each other and for the growth of the relationship. Do not allow other things to fill the time. If the marital is not going well, other things will fill the void and bring the satisfaction which marriage was intended to bring. Do not allow even children to steal the time that your relationship requires. It will take thought. It will require forethought about what can be done to enhance the marriage. Each should become a student of the other – likes and dislikes and sensitivity to the emotional needs of each other.
But perhaps most of all it will require tenacity. You will have to keep at it in each stage of marriage: the early years, parenting of small children, teenage years, empty nest years, and latter years. Never take each other and love for granted. Just as our spiritual relationship with the Lord is intended to grow, appreciating fresh unfoldings of His love, so in marriage. There should be the appreciation of fresh and new aspects of love as the marriage grows.
Nourishing the Spiritual Relationship
The Establishing of Spiritual Customs
This is a vital aspect of your marriage, especially the early years. Reading and praying should be part of everyday life. When and how you implement this is a very individual issue. All couples differ in the style of their marriage. While this is vital, it must never be allowed to interfere with time for individual devotion.
The Determining of Spiritual Convictions
This is a mutual exercise between spouses as to how they will govern their home and raise their children. Although the husband is the head and takes the lead, it is done with input from his wife. God intended a home to be a place where the Scriptures were honored, saints respected, standards upheld, and sanctity maintained. In other words, it is supposed to be a reflection of heaven’s values. Couples need to allow the Word of God to regulate the home. While Scriptural understanding is vital, this mutual determining of convictions will test communication skills and respect for each other.
Enhancing by Spiritual Conversation
What do you talk about? Our conversation has potential for good, but also has pitfalls. God never intended spouses to be preaching at one another, and using Scripture to get what each wants from the other. The Word of God is never something given to me to manipulate another believer.
The Richness of Spiritual Cultivation
There is the incalculable potential that in a marital relationship molded by the Word of God, each can encourage the other, supporting each other in spiritual service and gift. This was God’s original intention in giving Eve to Adam, to be a “help-meet” for him.
Cherishing in the Emotional Realm
Aware of Emotional Needs – Col 3:19
In every relationship, God intends us to be kind, tender-hearted, speaking grace one to another. There is no relationship in which this is so critical as the marriage relationship. Words spoken in anger, long-restrained frustration venting itself in one mighty eruption, can destroy a marriage. Care for another and consideration of the needs of another will teach me to use words wisely.
Available for Emotional Support
There is, especially in our fast-paced society, the danger of being distant, aloof, too busy for the emotional side of marriage. Notice 1 Peter 3 where the husband is exhorted to support his wife’s emotional need without any hint that it is weakness. It is not weakness but her constitution. Males have areas of special vulnerability as well. A wise wife will know how and when to address his emotional needs.
Appreciative of Emotional Communion
It is vital that couples make every effort to share in the emotional dimension of married life together. God intends oneness at every level of marriage. Men and women will define and measure this element of emotional communion differently. Part of the growth of marriage involves an understanding of each other’s goals and perspectives.
Enhancing the Physical Realm
The Purity of Intimacy in the Marital Relationship
If Hebrews 13:4 tells us of the preciousness of marriage, it also underlines the purity of it. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul touches on the physical aspects of the marriage relationship. Uniquely in this passage, he omits any mention of headship or submission; the overriding principle is mutuality and consideration. He does not legislate my rights, but my responsibilities in this regard. No demands are to be made in this sphere of marriage. No “games” are played to manipulate another. Yet each must appreciate the Scriptural principle that they have ceded the ownership of the body to another.
The Beauty of the Marital Relationship
God intended physical intimacy as an expression of love, not a concession to human weakness. It not only symbolizes a oneness which has occurred at every level of a human relationship, but also solidifies it.
Reality in a Marital Relationship
Wrong expectations will lead to disappointment and doubt. Our world has so glamorized and publicized the physical aspects of marital relationships, that many couples approach it with wrong expectations. Lack of fulfillment or something less than the anticipated ecstasy, can lead some to question if they really are in love. This doubt can begin to fester and, as it grows, can foster a distance between spouses which scars and undermines a marriage. There is need for patience, communication, and consideration in this aspect of marriage, as well as all others.
Infidelity in the Marital Relationship
Nothing will so strike at the most sensitive aspect of a marriage with the incredible power to destroy it as this act. When it occurs, it is the greatest test a marriage can endure. God intends absolute purity and fidelity within a marriage (1 Thess 4; 1 Cor 6).