At the start of our marriage, our vision for marital success was limited by our pursuit of selfish desires. We often bring our own “baggage” into the marriage covenant, but remembering that marriage is a covenant that we make with God is key to growing as a Christian and as spouse. Once we realized that our spouse was not created for our own pleasures, and that marriage was more about giving than getting, we started to grope around for help to repair our twisted dreams. We started ingesting volumes of materials on marriage until we felt like self-help junkies. Applying all that material became a real challenge, so we began to forget what we had read and then resorted to the flawed reflex responses that were programmed within us from our separate dysfunctional childhoods.
Realizing that we were getting nowhere, we cried out to God to help us make lasting changes in our marriage relationship. God helped us organize what we had learned and through the help of the Holy Spirit, we were able to recall needed techniques in a crisis. God has used every trial and success to give us stepping-stones to a higher marital experience and to make our marriage SHARP. Although it is not all-inclusive, this acronym has served as a quick reference to check the barometer of our marriage.
Sweet communication is needed to keep love alive at home. If our words are harsh, critical, demeaning or full of gossip, they will wound a person to the point of creating barriers between the couple that are difficult to remove. Negative words also create a negative atmosphere in the home making it less of a place where angels love to dwell. Words of affirmation, encouragement, inspiration and words that seek to build your relationship and spouse, make for openness and love to be experienced. Death and life are in the power of the tongue(1) so we need to carefully consider how we speak to one another.
Humor is indispensable and can turn moments of frustration and deep challenges into fun learning experiences and profound oneness. Early in our marriage, a lost set of keys could turn into a nightmare of accusations and blame. One Saturday morning when David could not find his belt for his dress pants, he stormed about using accusatory words in an attempt to have others assist him on his seek and find mission. In the midst of a tense moment, our two-year-old son wisely asked, “Daddy shouldn’t you pray and ask God to help you?” Convicted at this moment, the grown man smiled and said, “Yes, son, you are right and I am sorry for the way that I have behaved. Let’s pray and ask Jesus to help us.” As soon as Dad and son got of their knees, the belt was found, to which our son joyfully exclaimed, “Hallelujah, now we can go to church!” At that moment, we all laughed. Since that incident, we have learned to smile, laugh and allow God to be the keeper of our attitudes.
Acts of kindness on a regular basis keeps a marriage thriving. Daily as we seek to give of ourselves to show that our spouse is special to us nurtures a loving environment. Doing a chore for your spouse while maintaining a cheerful disposition, paying attention to their day and just jumping in and helping out where needed are actions that breed romance, deep appreciation and unity.
Repentance is paramount in preventing cold, distant communication and can even repair marital brokenness. We will all make mistakes, but being able to acknowledge your wrong, confessing the misdeed and then developing a plan as a couple to keep the error from recurring, while simultaneously working on a plan to grow from the mistakes, can add significant depth to a Godly relationship.
Prayer and Praise round off the ingredients that have kept our marriage invigorated. Daily holding hands and praying together (praying for and with your spouse) has been one of the richest experiences in our marriage. As the saying goes, you can’t remain at odds with each other when you are regularly praying for one another. In addition to prayer, the continual praise and thanksgiving to God for what He has done(2) has been monumental for our growth as we have allowed praise to God to overflow onto our spouse with praises for them instead of complaining.
Overall, in order to keep your marriage sharp and achieve true marital success you must practice the presence of Christ to guide you on this journey. Our marriage is far from perfect, but if we keep our hands in God’s hands, we will stay on the right path.
Pastor David and Jacquelyn Guerrero are co-founders of Rekindle the Flame Ministries and reside in Central Wisconsin with their four children.
(1) Proverbs 18:21
(2) 1 Thess. 5:18