The 3 Keys To A Healthy Marriage
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Oh wait! That’s for another day and another time. Or is it?
To be honest, the opening line of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Tale of Two Cities”, more often than not describes the state of our marriages.
But what if I told you there are three keys to establishing and maintaining a Healthy Marriage that you both will find great joy and contentment in, that will bring fulfillment to your lives and relationship, and that will give you a God honoring marriage second to none?
Well it’s true! Now, as you know, the things in life that are of any value take hard work and dedication, but let me assure you, if you put into practice the following three keys to establishing and maintaining a healthy marriage, you will be absolutely amazed at what God does!
So here they are…
Understand the diametric difference between two Christians in a Marriage and a Christ Centered Marriage.
I’m not talking semantically here. I have known way too many couples over the years (Patty and I will be married for 35 years on August 15th of this year, and I have been in ministry a long, long, time) that I would call Christ Followers, and although they loved Jesus and He was the center of their individual lives, He is/was not the center of their relationship.
To have a healthy marriage Jesus must not only be the Center of your lives, He must be the center of your relationship as well.
The Apostle Paul writes about this very thing to the church at Ephesus, and his message rings just as true today as it did when the Holy Spirit poured these words into his heart…
Ephesians 5:21-31 - New International Version (NIV)
Instructions for Christian Households:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
This passage opens with the concept of mutual submission in the marriage relationship, and ends with the call to be fully and wholly united together as one. This can only happen when Christ is the focal point of your marriage.
What Paul is admonishing us to do in so many words is to practice spiritual intimacy together. Here’s what I believe this means to us in the 21st Century:
We are to practice praying with and for each other, study His Word together, attend church together, be in Biblical Community together, include each other in what God is teaching you daily, surrender our rights for the sake of our relationship, and submit to one another as to the Lord. Jesus laid down His life for us, and calls us to lay down our lives for each other.
You want a healthy, God honoring marriage? Build it on a foundation of Spiritual Intimacy.
Do you want a healthy marriage? You must learn to speak and to listen to each other in a way that will bless the other person. We must learn to speak life and build Emotional Intimacy into our marriages.
Ephesians 4:29New International Version (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
With this verse in mind, let me make this point perfectly clear… The person who said “Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me”, had no idea what he was talking about.
Words do hurt, and when it comes to the words we say to one another they do one of two things. Either they speak life into the recipient’s ears, heart, and life, or they speak death. There is nothing neutral about the words we speak.
But speaking in ways that build into our spouse love, peace, contentment, and safety, is only part of the equation when it comes to establishing Emotional Intimacy in our relationship.
We must work hard to practice good communication skills, in every way possible and at all times. This means a few things to you and me concerning our relationships…
- Learn to value the thoughts, opinions, and perspectives of our spouse.
- Humble ourselves before God and our spouse and always doing what we can to show honor and respect to our spouse.
- Never get caught playing the "Silent Game". Be careful not to close the “spirit” of your spouse by the words you use, or don’t use.
- Be an active listener, and take an interest in the things our spouse is interested in.
- It might seem like such a little thing, but never let the sun go down on your anger. We are to be gentle, sensitive, and should seek forgiveness when we are wrong as well as being forgiving when we feel like we have been wronged. (Ephesians 4:26, 32)
Ephesians 4:26 & 32 New International Version (NIV)
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,(A) forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
You want a healthy, God honoring marriage? Build into the heart of your relationship a healthy and vibrant portion of Emotional Intimacy.
Love with Reckless Abandon!!
That’s right, I said it! S E X U A L Intimacy!
You want a marriage that’s off the hook? One that is full of passion, romance, excitement, and more fun than you can even imagine? Then read carefully what I have to say…
Start by committing to express your love for each other as often, and in as many ways as possible. Never let the romance in your relationship fade, and work to reestablish it if it has.
Learn to be creative in how you build romance into your daily, yes, daily lives. Valentines Day, Birthdays, and Anniversaries, should not be the pentacle of the romance you share with one another, but should pale in comparison to the loving, romantic, relationship you share on an ongoing basis.
Now, at this point it is very possible that your response might be, “But Rich, Sometimes I don’t even like my spouse!”
That, my friends is a valid response. If you do feel that way let me put your mind at ease and assure that my lovely bride, Patty Green, totally feels your pain, understands where you might be coming from.
But, as I said at the very beginning of this blog, anything that has any real value in this world is going to take work.
You have to remember that true, lasting, authentic love is more than an emotion; it is an act of the will. It is a commitment you make, one to the other. Sometimes you won't feel like loving the person who wakes up on the other side of the bed from you every day; Practice love, practice romance, anyway. God will honor your commitment to doing the right thing for your relationship even when there are times the feelings don’t follow suit. (I John 4:7-21, 4:12!!)
When it comes to Sexual Intimacy, it’s important to never, ever, let anything come between, or be more important than, the relationship between you and your spouse, especially in this area of your marriage.
Love each other with reckless abandon! Enjoy exploring the beauty of this gift God has given you to share with your spouse. Work at developing the intimacy in your relationship in a deeper way.
You want a great marriage, establish a healthy and vibrant love life that will grow all the more beautiful and precious as the days, weeks, months, and years go by!!
Well, that’s it. These are the 3 Keys to a Healthy Marriage. I can guarantee, if you get out of the way, allow God to work, and put these 3 Keys into practice you will never look back, will place safeguards on your relationship, will find true and sincere joy in the journey over the years, and will never want for anything more.
At the very end of 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes these words… “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” After he pens those words he launches into this amazing and wonderful dissertation on LOVE.
You see, Paul knew the best way to live, and the absolute best thing we could ever give our spouse, the person we committed the rest of our life to, is simple….love. When we build Spiritual, Emotional, and Sexual Intimacy into our marriage, that’s exactly what we give them; Deep, sincere, and authentic love.
And to that, I simply say… AMEN!
And with that in mind, I leave you to ponder what you will do to love your spouse like no one else in the world can, and I leave you with these words from Pastor and Author Max Lucado.
Love like there’s no tomorrow,
and if tomorrow comes, love again.
~ Max Lucado ~
View All Posts