I have been blessed with 53 years of marriage to Marilyn (who died of Alzheimer’s) and three years with Clare (who died of a massive stroke). They were both Spirit-filled, wonderful women.
A good marriage is the most beautiful, satisfying and fulfilling thing on earth. To achieve it, here are three and a half suggestions from my personal experience.
First: Make a solid commitment to each other. Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulation. However, if you are committed to each other, you can make it through anything. The very wise pastor who married Clare and me had us make our vows to God first, then make our vows to each other. As a result, we made it through some difficult circumstances and had a wonderful marriage.
Second: Give love rather than expecting to get love. Quoting Jesus again, he said it is better to give than receive.1 I know from experience that he was correct. As I mentioned, Marilyn had early onset Alzheimer’s disease for 35 years. Toward the end, I couldn’t take care of her 24/7 so I placed her in a nice Alzheimer’s residence. I went to see her every day. Sometimes she didn’t respond to me at all but when I left, I still felt fulfilled because I got to love on her.
Third: Help your spouse to become all that God intended him/her to be. I don’t mean run a theological seminary; I mean do everything you can to provide a safe place for growth. That includes praying for your spouse, being a godly example, being supportive, never putting down, lavishing love, etc. It means never criticizing but leave it up to the Holy Spirit to do the changing. It means praising anything you can. Always building up.2 I told Clare my strategy and she thrived.
Now for the half-a-point: while doing all three things, remember that Jesus takes it personally. He said that inasmuch as you do it to the least of his people, you are doing it unto him.3 So if you swear at your spouse, you are swearing at Jesus; if you love your spouse, you are loving Jesus. So always speak and act with kindness.
To summarize: 1) Make an irrevocable commitment to your spouse, 2) Lavish love on your spouse and you will be fulfilled, 3) Help your spouse to become all that God intended. While doing these things remember to do/speak “as to the Lord and not unto men knowing you will receive the reward of the inheritance.”4
In reviewing these points I realized they all have one thing in common: They all require self-sacrifice for the benefit of your spouse—yet you benefit too. I have been totally fulfilled by so doing.
Photo Attribution: Nikita Shirokov – Unsplash.com