God's Blue Print for Saving Marriages
"All things were created by Him and for Him...and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16b-17a). Having a successful marriage first requires you to understand what God had in mind for marriage. After all, If you want to understand the purpose behind an invention, you consult the One who invented it, right!
Since marriage is God's creation, He is in the saving marriages business. God created marriage for three very specific reasons, just like He created you, for very specific reasons. Our lives are more satisfying when we cooperate with God in fulfilling our purposes. Marriage is no exception...
First, you've probably learned that men and women were made in God's image (Gen. 1:26-27). But, did you know that within the marriage relationship husbands and wives also bear the image of God? They do this by demonstrating love and faithfulness to each other...like God does with us. You see, God covenants with His people, husbands and wives covenant to each other and God. So marriage was created to reflect God's faithfulness in the world.
The second reason God created marriage was to meet human needs. Needs for food, shelter and clothing as well as needs for love, acceptance, intimacy, and faithfulness. In that way marriage is a picture to the world of how God provides for His people.
Marriage is God's conduit for love. It was designed to be a safe harbor where a man and a woman could be totally naked and unashamed. A place where they could experience the unconditional love and acceptance of God through each other.
Third, marriage is one of the ways God expands His Kingdom and accomplishes His work in the earth. He commanded men and women to go forth and multiply, be fruitful and take dominion over the earth(Genesis 1:28).
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do as God commanded when you are at odds with your spouse. Conflict drains our emotional and creative energies. Sadly, many husbands and wives feel like they are sleeping with the enemy instead of with their comrade in arms.
Marriage was designed with unity in mind. When a husband and wife are on the same page, so to speak, they are reflecting the unity of the Godhead. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Unity is so important that Jesus told us it would be a great sign to the world testifying that He truly is the Son of God (John 17:23).
Okay, now you have the general idea God had in mind when He designed marriage, but saving marriage requires a plan.
First, you need to decide, once and for all, are you going to commit to honoring God through your marriage. Are you going to do it God's way? Are you going to trust His word, His plan and His design? If you answered yes, let's move on...
If you're making a plan to improve or save your marriage you need to start out on the right foot. That means getting right with God and your spouse first! To get right requires humility. It requires taking responsibility for the negative, sinful things you have contributed to your marriage without justifying yourself or blaming your spouse.
Confession of sin can be a turning point in our lives. It means we are in agreement with God about our sin and we are choosing to turn away from it. When we do this, God's word promises to give us the power to accomplish that. Some of the things you may want to consider confessing are: the ways in which you have not trusted and honored God, the ways you have not obeyed His word, the consequences of your choices to you, your spouse and your marriage.
Exercising humility is a crucial part of any saving marriages plan. Making confession of sin a regular part of your marriage will keep you humble and help to maintain emotional intimacy. Apologies go a long way in keeping our hearts pliable and loving towards our spouse and God.
The next step in the saving marriages blueprint is making a plan for knowing your spouse's most important needs. You also must become intentional about meeting those needs. Your spouse will feel more connected and in love with you when you are meeting his/her most important emotional needs.
Regular prayer is necessary for a successful marriage. Pray that God would show His love and faithfulness to your spouse through you. Prayer is how we experience the personal relationship we have with God through Christ. It is also where we avail ourselves to the grace of God. Therefore, your plan for saving marriage must include daily prayer for your spouse and your ability to love them.
A marriage that reflects God's image is a safe marriage. God is our refuge, therefore your marriage should be a refuge for both you and your spouse. A safe relationship is one where both husband and wife feel accepted even if there are disagreements. A plan for saving marriages needs to include a plan for safety. Neither spouse should ever have to worry about the proverbial nuclear bomb being dropped on them!
That's why a plan for saving marriages must address conflict. Your marriage can be free from condemnation, contempt, critical attitudes and defensiveness. It's your choice! It can be a place where you are quick to take responsibility for your own actions and slow to point your finger of blame. It is not, however, a marriage that is free from conflict. But, yours can be a marriage where both parties fight fair.
Finally, your saving marriages plan needs to include specific goals, goals that are written down. After all, God wrote down His plan...we call it the Bible! Isn't that a good enough reason for you to write down your plan for your marriage. Written goals are powerful. They help move a plan into motion.
Keep in mind, your goals need to be consistent with God's purpose for your marriage. Your goals will help you stay on track and give more purpose, meaning and direction to your marriage and family life. You may want to have goals in the following areas: Spiritual (we will study and pray together regularly), parenting (we will always be unified when disciplining the children), finances ( we will decide on a budget and stick to it), health (we will exercise regularly and eat right), communication (we will speak lovingly and respectfully to one another).
Well, that should be enough to get you started developing your own personal saving marriages plan. Remember, the Creator of marriage is in the business of saving marriages. Put your hope in the Lord for with Him is unfailing love and full redemption (Psalm 130:7).
About the Author: Jean LeStourgeon, MA, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Palm Bay, Florida. She also operates the website Christian Counseling Online where you can find lots more information and tools on topics like marriage problems and marriage advice.