I’ve been divorced a long time. I’ve spent the better part of the past 10 years praying and writing about love in hopes to find one that represents the kind of love God wants for each of us.
While reading through some old journals, I found this entry I wrote exactly three years ago today. Time may have passed, but the dream of being loved has not. While I may not seem like the expert on keeping a marriage together, I’m keenly aware of the humility, grace, patience, and sheer determination it takes to keep a marriage from falling apart. I’ve been married and it fell apart anyway.
So, I turned to the only source I know that is the true expert on love and marriage. God and I have been spending a lot of time talking about how to keep the marriage I’m about to enter from ending up like the last one.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Loving one another is tenderly holding each other’s hearts in our hands, ever so gingerly taking care not to squish, break, or drop them. To do this well, love requires:
- We are patient with one another, holding back judgment, and leaving our pointer fingers in our pockets when our loved one makes a mistake.
- We are kind to one another, seeing each other the way Christ sees each of us and continuously reminding each other of our strengths, gifts, and all the ways we adore each other.
- We approach our everyday tasks from a spirit to serve and take care of one another and leave behind the notion that we need to be served. If we are equally serving each other, we are equally being served.
- We come to the marriage as two whole, unique individuals who appreciate and love the other for their strengths, gifts, and even weaknesses because we want the same appreciation reciprocated. When we understand that being separate individuals means we can’t control our spouse, we let go of expectations that lead to resentment and pride.
- We set and maintain guardrails to keep from falling off the cliff of infidelity, addictions, and other temptations. We each practice self-control and self-discipline to honor and protect our marriages.
- We learn to use good, calm, and wise communication skills to ask questions and ask for what we need to head off angry conflicts. Righteous anger has its place in the world, but when we are disagreeing about how the dishes are being done, we will find nothing righteous in that argument.
- We protect each other in conversations with our besties. We find a trusted Godly mentor or confidante (of the same sex) to bring our concerns, fears, frustrations and to ask for guidance.
- We choose to trust the Holy Spirit in our spouses. We trust God will unify our hearts. We choose to trust that our spouses have our best interest at heart, and if we have any doubts, we bring our concerns using our good communication skills directly to God and to our spouse.
- We persevere through the everyday struggles and triumphs. Love never fails.
I don’t know the secret easy 9 step solution that will magically keep your marriage together. What I do know is how much I need these 9 heart shifts for myself and how much I pray for them in my future husband. I know I how much I desire and need to be loved well, and I know he desires and needs as much as I do.