What does Marriage mean to You? Five Keys for a Healthy Marriage...
What does Marriage mean to you? Marriage can mean so many different things to different people and it all starts with our belief system and many times on how we were raised in the home and seeing love or the lack there of with our parents. Negative cycles and history can be broken and new beginnings are possible. There are no perfect marriages, and don't let anyone try to fool you. I always say that marriage is made up of two imperfect people coming together as one. In other words marriage is WORK and it's definitely not for the faint-hearted. In marriage you have to dig your feet in and put in the necessary work required to keep the marriage alive and well. You can't be lazy in marriage because the enemy is always waiting to sift it like wheat. We must stay diligent in prayer and always alert with our eyes wide open. Marriage can be so beautiful, but work is required and we will touch on the five keys to a healthy marriage in a moment.
Marriage is what we make of it and if we respect it, believe in it and trust that God is the head of our marriage then we can definitely have the marriage we always wanted, dreamed of and prayed for.
Before I get into the five keys for a healthy marriage I really wanted to talk about the different seasons we go through in our marriages. Dr. Gary Chapman has a very good book out about the four seasons of marriage, and I highly recommend it as an excellent read.
Dr. Gary Chapman says "Life has seasons, and we change and grow over time. Doesn’t it make sense that our marriages would go through similar seasons?" Let's look at what he says about the different seasons of marriage:
“Winter marriages are characterized by coldness, harshness and bitterness. The dreams of spring are covered with layers of ice.”
Conversations are only about logistics–who will do what and when they will do it. Communication is relegated to silence, arguments, criticism and at times verbal abuse. Lives are lived independently, although under the same roof. This is caused by rigidity: unwillingness to consider the other person’s perspective and work towards compromise.
The emotions ever present in a winter season of marriage are hurt, anger, disappointment, loneliness and a sense of rejection. The attitudes of spouses in the winter season are a pervasive pessimism, seeing the worst, thinking problems are too big, discouragement, hopelessness and the nasty habit of blaming the other person.
The natural inclination of individuals within a winter season of marriage is to avoid the elements and withdraw. There is either a conscious or subconscious desire to hurt the other spouse with harsh words or even violent acts. Spouses tend to feel detached and desperate for change.
There is, however, a positive side to the winter season. According to Chapman, couples tend to “maintain hope. People don’t lay down in snow and wait to die…they seek help. Trials produce patience and perseverance, and forgiveness makes room for love.”
“Spring is where most marriages begin,” says Chapman. “The excitement of creating a new life together is not exclusively for newlyweds.”
The emotions in a spring marriage are characterized by excitement, joy, hope and happiness. Couples feel animated and buoyant, and their attitudes towards one another are positive. There is both gratitude and anticipation of the future, and an overall feeling of optimism and trust.
Just like newlyweds or second/third/fourth honeymoon couples tend to do, the actions of a spring marriage are the constant thinking of how to express love in both word and deed. Couples want to do things to deepen the relationship and benefit the other person.
But just as the harshness of winter marriages has a positive side, the excitement of spring marriages contains negativity. In natural terms, many people suffer with allergies and hay fever during the spring and a spring marriage can contain the same kind of unexpected irritations as well.
“Fun is the theme of a summer marriage,” says Chapman. “Life is beautiful and reaping benefits of efforts to understand each other. Spouses share a deep sense of commitment, satisfaction and security in each other’s love.”
Emotions include happiness, satisfaction, accomplishment, connection, peace and FUN! Attitudes are beautiful, but they must be watered, or else they will wither in the heat of the sun. There is usually a desire to keep growing together. The communication is constructive, and couples have learned to accept each other’s differences.
A couple in the summer season of marriage needs to be forewarned, though. There are unresolved conflicts under the surface that must be brought out if a marriage is to remain in the ebullience of summertime.
“These marriages look fine externally; outsiders may even comment on how happy the couple seems to be. Yet inside the marriage, things are changing.”
Fall marriages can either be a prelude to winter, or a couple can dig deep and make time reverse so they can go back to spring again. Emotions in this season include sadness, apprehension, rejection, resentment, loneliness and emotional depletion. Couples in the fall season of their marriage have attitudes of great concern over their marriages; there is an uncertainty about where things are going.
The beauty about the fall is the fork in the road that makes itself available to couples. Either they can lead into winter with attitudes of neglect and allow the marriage to drift in a negative direction, or they can go back to the spring season with actions that foster a positive relationship. A couple can either grow closer together or drift further apart in this season.
After reading about the four seasons of marriage, can you identify where your marriage is at presently? Let's move right into the five keys for a healthy marriage:
I have the five keys broken down into category because there are certain keys needed under each category to keep our marriages alive and well;
God being the head of your Marriage:
I truly believe that God is the covering that keeps marriage together. Just like an umbrella He is the covering, protector and source for every difficulty and challenge. There is a divine natural order for marriage/family and I believe it to be God then Husband as spiritual leader, provider and to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Wife as helper to her husband, to raise God fearing children, and to submit to her husband's authority. We must put God first and pray for our marriage/spouse/family. We must be obedient to what God calls us to do. There will be times that we mess up and not obey God, but thank God He gives grace and we have another chance to make things right. The bible is a blueprint for marriage and life and whenever in doubt that's the first place to look for guidance.
(Also prayer, seeking direction from God regarding your marriage, praying together and if you don't know asking God about purpose for your marriage. Every marriage has a purpose and it's not just to be married and happily ever after. There could be a purpose in ministry, business, family). Seek God for answers...
You must be committed to the marriage and not easily offended. You have to be committed to pray for your marriage/spouse and family. You have to be committed to stay and endure because as we previously touched on there are different seasons in marriage and we must be committed to stay and grow through each season. We must stay committed by being faithful and loyal to our spouse. Are you committed to doing what it takes to make your spouse feel safe and loved within your marriage? Does your spouse have to worry about your wandering eye or flirtatious ways? Be committed in every way and don't take your spouse for granted. Listen and do what it takes to be committed in every way. Be committed to one another for the rest of your lives... Marriage is suppose to be til death do us part.
(Also being faithful, loyal and committed to your spouse and marriage in every way possible. Committed to grow and learn through the different seasons of your marriage. Consider your spouse feelings and commit to making them feel safe and loved).
Always keep the lines of communication open. Don't shut your spouse out with vague answers, but be truthful and honest. Communicate in love and be respectful towards your spouse. It may not be easy, but God gives grace so remember to always pray before communicating with your spouse. Pray because you want to be sensitive to their needs and feelings, and you want your communication to be fruitful. Don't keep secrets in marriage. Respect your spouse enough to be open and honest with them. Being dishonest only breeds resentment and lack of trust so always be honest.
(Keep the lines of communication open. Be respectful and speak in love. Be honest and don't keep secrets. Don't shut your spouse out because they want to be apart of whatever is going on with you. Don't be short or snappy with your spouse, and remember to have patience with them).
There will be many, many times that we feel like not forgiving our spouse. It could be a harsh word that was spoken, an indiscretion, lack of communication, etc. It could be a number of things to offend us and cause us to not want to forgive our spouse. We have to always stay prayed up asking God for His help and direction. We will be given many opportunities to hold un-forgiveness in our hearts, but that will only block our blessings, and cause many other problems in our life such as sickness and depression to name a few. Many times we have to ask God to help us to forgive depending on the severity of the offense and sometimes the lack of remorse from our spouse. Regardless of their action we must forgive so that we can heal and stay in right fellowship with the Father. We have not always done whats right and have needed forgiveness on many occasions. We are going to need forgiveness again so why not let go of the weight of un-forgiveness and let God keep us covered in his love and forgiveness towards us.
(Forgiveness is not always about the offender, but about us personally. We don't always understand why we go through different trials, but God knows and He understands. Keep your marriage covered in prayer and ask God to help when it's hard to forgive. Trust that the Lord will help you and see you through the challenge).
Keep the romance alive and well in your marriage. Plan date nights and special times alone where you and your spouse can just love on each other and not have any other care in the world at the time. Surprise each other often with special love notes, cards or gifts that show your love and appreciation for your spouse. Keep your marriage fresh and alive at all cost. Don't allow the routine of your everyday lives to take the fun excitement away. Never allow your spouse to feel rejected or unwanted. Life gets busy with jobs, children, higher education, church, business, etc but we must never put those things before our spouse or marriage. Don't allow your comfort zone to come in and cause boredom which can cause distractions to enter in that can pull your attention away from each other. By all means don't become predictable in your marriage. Be spontaneous, adventurous and curious about doing different things with the love of your life. Keep it alive, romantic and sexy for your spouse.
(Plan getaways, cook romantic dinners together, surprise each other often with love notes, cards or small gifts. Don't take each other for granted because love and romance is necessary to keeping the sparks going in your marriage. Dates are very important. Never stop dating your spouse).
I really hope that this blog post is a blessing to all the married couples. Thanks so much for your visit and I do welcome your feedback. You can always share in the comments section of this website. As always keep praying, keep pressing and keep looking up!!!